Barbie of Swan Lake: The best kind of nostalgia


Barbie of Swan Lake

Barbie movies were a staple for so many children, and they were certainly a must-watch for me. One that was always on replay for me was Barbie of Swan Lake, and to this day I think it holds up pretty well. Between the beautiful soundtrack, the entrancingly weird story and delicate and the wistful memories it brings back, I think this is definitely a DVD worth dusting off. 

One of the most notable aspects of this movie is the soundtrack. Most of the music is performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, and the feeling it adds to this film is unreal. It can obviously be hard to take this kind of movie seriously, but between the gentle piano of the intro, and the large and loud instrumental of the fight scenes, the soundtrack adds a whole new layer to the film.

However, a part where this film struggles is the animation. While I do give some leeway considering it was made in 2003, sometimes it’s just too much to bear. A majority of the cast of this movie is animals, which is unfortunate because that does not seem to be the animator’s strong suit. 

One character in particular, Lila, is so uncomfortable to look at that much of this movie feels unwatchable, considering the amount of screen time she’s given. I understand that a horse would be hard to animate, much less a unicorn. But the complete lack of texture on her, plus the weird clumps of smooth hair on her back, all mixed with the fact that her entire model is this weird shade of pink that blends in with everything around her makes it a little difficult to deal with her character. 

Despite the mediocre animation, you can tell a lot of love was put into making this. The story loosely follows that of the ballet, Swan Lake, by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It’s not just one of those “princess falls in love with prince they get married yay!” kind of stories. It talks about how one’s lack of self confidence can be the thing that holds them back. And how overcoming your doubts can open a world of possibilities. At the beginning we see our main character Odette struggle with her lack of confidence in herself, but by the end she’s empowered, and is able to defeat the villain that threatens her with the help of her friends. It’s a very sweet message, and I think the writers did a great job of portraying it in a realistic- but comprehensible- way. 

In short, this movie does have its fair share of problems, I won’t deny that. But in spite of its flaws, this film really is great. It’s empowering for women and girls, it has a cute story, and if anything, it has a charm you can’t find anywhere else. If you’re interested in revisiting some childhood nostalgia, I would start with Barbie of Swan Lake, no questions asked.