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Bartok the Magnificent

Bartok the Magnificent is a 1999 American direct-to-video animated adventure comedy film directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman.[1] It is a spin-off and prequel to the 1997 film Anastasia (also directed by Bluth and Goldman).

Bartok the Magnificent
Bartok the Magnificent.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byDon Bluth
Gary Goldman
Produced byDon Bluth
Gary Goldman
Hank Azaria
Screenplay byJay Lacopo
Based onAnastasia
by Susan Gauthier
Bruce Graham
Bob Tzudiker
Noni White
Eric Tuchman
by Arthur Laurents
by Marcelle Maurette
StarringHank Azaria
Kelsey Grammer
Catherine O'Hara
Andrea Martin
Tim Curry
Jennifer Tilly
Music byStephen Flaherty
Edited byBob Bender
Fiona Trayler
Distributed by20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release date
  • November 16, 1999 (1999-11-16)
Running time
68 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film centres around the kidnapping of the young czar prior to the Russian Revolution. Hank Azaria reprises his role from the previous film as Bartok, Rasputin's former bumbling small albino bat sidekick.[2]

While several of Bluth's films have received sequels, spin-offs and television series, this is the only project he has been involved with.


Albino bat Bartok arrives in Moscow and makes himself known by performing for the locals. His grand finale involves defeating a grizzly bear. Delighted with Bartok's bravery, the townspeople shower him with gold, including the young czar Ivan Romanov, who gifts Bartok with a royal ring, much to the chagrin of Ivan's assistant Ludmilla. After the show, Bartok counts his earnings and is startled by the stirring bear, revealed to be his business partner Zozi. Although Zozi is apprehensive about the ring, Bartok refuses as it was gifted.

When Ivan is kidnapped by the witch Baba Yaga, there is an immediate investigation. In seeking a rescuer, two children nominate Bartok, who, with Zozi, was already on his way to St. Petersburg when spotted by Cossacks. Bartok is brought before the townspeople, who are relying on his courage to save Ivan. Reluctantly, Bartok accepts, and he and Zozi set out for the Iron Forest. Upon arriving at Baba Yaga's hut, the duo must answer a riddle given by the entrance, a giant skull. With the riddle solved, Bartok is then captured by Baba Yaga, who explains that, in order to save Ivan, Bartok must retrieve three artifacts from the forest, without any assistance: her pet Piloff, Oblie's Crown and the Magic Feather. However, Bartok quickly finds that these tasks are difficult, as Piloff is frozen to a boulder; Oblie, a giant blacksmith surrounded by an aura of fire, must be tricked into letting his crown be stolen; and the Magic Feather must be obtained without flight, utilizing only the previous two items.

Returning to Baba Yaga with the objectives completed, the witch reveals that she needs something from Bartok himself. Baba Yaga rejects all his offers, and, outraged, Bartok lashes out at her, accusing her of lying and cheating, and claiming that everyone hates her. Suddenly stricken with guilt, Bartok apologizes and cries, allowing Baba Yaga to obtain the most important ingredient: tears from the heart. She conjures up a potion from the objects, and reveals that she never kidnapped Ivan and that the potion was intended for Bartok himself; it will make whatever he is in his heart ten times on the outside. Bartok and Zozi return to town and lead Ludmilla and Vol, the Captain of the Guard, up to the top of the tower, where Ivan is imprisoned.

There, Ludmilla locks Bartok and Vol in with Ivan, revealing that she had Vol kidnap the prince (telling him to "get him out of the way" as in kill him, while Vol misunderstood and locked him up, supposedly for his own safety) while she framed Baba Yaga as part of her scheme to steal the throne. She steals Bartok's potion and leaves her prisoners in a well tower, quickly flooding with water. Ludmilla consumes the potion, thinking her beauty will become tenfold. Unbeknownst to her, the potion, in fact, causes her to transform into a giant pink dragon, as it unveils her true wickedness.

Ludmilla's mind degrades to a mere beast, setting her on a rampage, burning the town with her fiery breath. Zozi comes and rescues Bartok, Ivan and Vol. Bartok battles Ludmilla and tricks her into climbing the tower. When she reaches the top, the tower crumbles, causing Ludmilla to fall to her death, and the gushing water dousing the flames. As the townsfolk gather around the wreckage, Zozi hails Bartok as a true hero, not only for defeating Ludmilla but also for showing Baba Yaga compassion.

Bartok returns Ivan's ring and Baba Yaga appears, writing "Bartok, The Magnificent" in the sky. Bartok bids Baba Yaga and Piloff goodbye, undoubtedly counting on seeing him again someday.


A young Grigori Rasputin makes a silent cameo among the crowd at the Romanov castle.


A spin-off film was devised as "Hollywood audiences went batty over the impish Bartok in Fox's 1997 animated musical Anastasia".[3] Chris Meledandri, then-president of 20th Century Fox Animation said "Once we thought about a lot of ideas, our favorite idea was the one you see".[3]


The film's songs were written by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, both returning from Anastasia.

Musical numbers
Song number Title Performers Length
1 Baba Yaga Ensemble vocals 1:00
2 Bartok the Magnificent Bartok and village people 2:40
3 A Possible Hero Zozi and Bartok 1:40
4 Someone's in My House Baba Yaga and magically animated/enhanced objects/witch ingredients 1:55
5 The Real Ludmilla Ludmilla and prisoners 2:05



In late 1999, pancake purveyor IHOP started selling two versions of Bartok, as part of promotion. The company planned "to sell about 500,000 of the six-inch-high toys - Bartok Puppet and Turban Bartok - for $2.99 with any food purchase". It was "also offering $2 mail-in rebate coupons for the $20 video...and free activity books for children".[4]

Home mediaEdit

Bartok the Magnificent was first released on VHS and DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on November 16, 1999,[1] and was later re-released in 2005 as part of a 2-disc set alongside Anastasia entitled Family Fun Edition.[5] Bartok the Magnificent was also included as a special feature on Anastasia Blu-ray, released in March 2011.

The tape and DVD conclude with sing-along segments that reprise the ... original tunes by Stephen Flaherty ... and Lynn Ahrens"[2] - "Bartok the Magnificent", "A Possible Hero", "Someone's in My House" and "Once Upon a December" (from Anastasia).[6] Other DVD extras include also include Bartok and Anastasia trailers, and a Maze Game that features three ... mazes that you control with your remote control".[6]

Visual and audio

The aspect ratio is 1.33:1 – Full Frame. The DVD release has the original aspect ratio, and it is not anamorphic. As the source is video and not film, and because there is no widescreen aspect ratio available, the quality is at the same level of the original film. Digitally Obsessed says "The colors are nicely rendered, with a minimum of bleeding" but when viewed on "a 115 foot projection screen through a progressive scan player...the image was fairly grainy and uneven".[6] The film has English and French audio. Digitally Obsessed says "The DS2.0 mix is more than adequate for this fun little bat romp [though there is a] lack of directionality in the mix. The dialogue is clear and center speaker weighted". It concluded by saying "This is a great DVD for kids, because besides just watching the movie they can enjoy the three sing-alongs or try to find Prince Ivan in the mazes. Bartok teaches moral values in a way that kids can understand"[6] According to LoveFilm, the film has been dubbed into: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and Dutch. It has subtitles in: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish.[7] Fort Worth Star-Telegram implied this was one of the rare direct-to-video films that is great quality, saying "the made-for-tape bin can yield an undiscovered bargain [such as] Bartok the Magnificent".[8] Lexington Herald-Leader said "to my surprise...the movie overall [is] quite good."[9]

Critical responseEdit

In a review written on January 1, 2000, Dan Jardine of Apollo Guide gave the film a score of 71/100.[10] On December 8, 2004, Michael Dequina of The Movie Report wrote a review in which he scored it 1.5/4, and wrote "This uninspired, but mercifully short, adventure will hold some amusement for little kids but bore everyone else".[10] Family Video said "The film is marked by imaginative scenery, catchy songs, comic characters and Bartok's own funny and neurotic commentary".[11] Hartford Courant described the film as "enjoyable".[12] Indianapolis Star said "'Bartok' is quite good for video-only release".[13] Digitally Obsessed gave the film a Style grade of B+, Substance rating of A, Image Transfer rating of C, Audio Transfer rating of B, and Extras rating of B+ - averaging out to a B+ rating of the film as a whole. It said "Stephen Flaherty's score is very nice".[6] On Love Film, the film has a rating of three of five stars based on 222 member ratings.[7]

In a 1999 review, John Laydon of Variety explained: "Tykes will likely be charmed by the brisk pacing, vibrant (albeit stereotypical) characters and engaging storyline, while parents may be especially grateful for a cartoon with much better production values than Pokémon. He noted "even very small children will notice early on that Ludmilla...a duplicitous regent, is the real villain of the piece". He said co-directors Bluth and Goldman "do a respectable job of establishing what promises to be a new direct-to-video franchise", adding that "though certainly not as lavish as its bigscreen predecessor Anastasia, the sequel is attractive and involving, with Tim Curry and Jennifer Tilly well cast as supporting-character voices". He said Azaria has "amusing brio", while Grammer "is the real scene-stealer this time". He described the songs as "pleasant but unremarkable".[2] Also in 1999, Fort Oglethorpe Press described the film as "spectacular", "frolicking" and "fun-filled", adding that it is "loaded with breathtaking, feature-quality animation", and "spectacular music", and "enchanting new songs".[1]

The Trades questioned its existence, saying "I am unsure what reason this spinoff was made, but regardless, it was a well done one". It added that "the same team directed and produced the second movie, and unlike many direct to video movies, it is animated as well as the first and uses a healthy portion of CGI, something many movies of that nature tend to lack. Backgrounds have the same detail as the original movie, making this a definite worthwhile watch".[14] The Dallas Morning News notes "Bartok the Magnificent does even more disservice to Russian history than Anastasia did".[15]


Bartok the Magnificent was nominated for "Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production" at the 28th Annie Awards in 2000, losing to Disney's An Extremely Goofy Movie.[16] It also received Gold Reel Award nominations for "Best Sound Editing" for both television films and direct-to-video presentations from the Motion Picture Sound Editors that same year, beaten by Shake, Rattle and Roll: An American Love Story and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, respectively.[17]

Award Nomination Nominee Result
Annie Award Outstanding Achievement in an Animated Home Video Production Bartok the Magnificent Nominated
Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing - Television Movies and Specials - Music Paul Silver, Mark Server (music editors) Nominated
Best Sound Editing - Direct to Video - Sound Editorial Mark Server, Scott Seymann, Michael Ferdie, Tom Wheeler, Fiona Trayler, Robert Bender, Jeff Snodgrass (editors)


  1. ^ a b c NAPSI (November 17, 1999). "No tall tail-bats are making a comeback in some areas". Fort Oglethorpe Press. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c Joe Leydon (1999-11-28). "Bartok the Magnificent". Variety. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  3. ^ a b King, Susan (1999-12-10). "Bartok the bat flies solo in new movie". Chicago Sun-Times.
  4. ^ "IHOP ENTERS MARKETING PARTNERSHIP WITH STUDIO". Daily News. October 30, 1999. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  5. ^ "Anastasia: Family Fun Edition on DVD". DVD Town. December 31, 2005. Archived from the original on December 31, 2005. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e "dOc DVD Review: Bartok The Magnificent (1999)". 2008-05-06. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  7. ^ a b "Bartok The Magnificent reviews (1999)". Lovefilm. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  8. ^ "Steer clear of these video losers". Star-Telegram. January 7, 2000. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  9. ^ "GRAB SOME VIDEOS FOR THE WEEKEND". Lexington Herald Leader. November 26, 1999. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Bartok the Magnificent - Movie Reviews". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  11. ^ "Bartok the Magnificent DVD". Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  12. ^ "Proquest -". 1999-11-25. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  13. ^ Slosarek, Steve (1999-12-10). "Bartok is quite good for video-only release". Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  14. ^ Ends Oct 21, 2013 (2006-04-04). "DVD Review: Anastasia (Family Fun Edition)". The Trades. Archived from the original on October 19, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  15. ^ Churnin, Nancy (1999-12-27). "Archives | The Dallas Morning News,". Retrieved 2013-10-18.
  16. ^ "Annie Awards :: 28th Annual Annie Awards". Annie Awards. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  17. ^ "Motion Picture Sound Editors, USA (2000)". IMDb. Retrieved October 23, 2015.

External linksEdit