An American Tail (1986)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

USA, 1986.  Universal Pictures, U-Drive Productions, Sullivan Studios, Amblin Entertainment, Don Bluth Productions.  Story by , , , Screenplay by Judy Freudberg, Tony Geiss.  Produced by Don Bluth, , .  Music by .  Production Design by Don Bluth.  Film Editing by .  

Charming animated film created by Don Bluth who, along with his animation team, left Disney in the hopes of developing projects that the studio wasn’t interested in. Following the success of their magical The Secret Of Nimh, Bluth’s team (executive produced by Steven Spielberg) came up with this dark but sweet tale of a Russian mouse named Fievel who emigrates to America with his family in the hopes of finding a land without cats.   Upon arrival, family members are separated and Fievel finds himself in the big city of New York all alone, with no one to help him and with lots of unexpected cats everywhere just waiting to hurt him.

The story is a clever allegory for the experience of immigrants (Russian Jews specifically in this case) who came to America at the turn of the century in the hope of an easier life and found things to be equally bad, or in some cases, worse, but the film doesn’t hit you too hard over the head with its symbolism. Instead, it enjoys playing towards its target small-fry audience, and features lovely animation and some fun characters (one voiced by the unmistakable ). The pretty theme song, “Somewhere Out There”, sung by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, became a huge hit and the film was followed by a sequel, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Original Song (“Somewhere Out There”)

Golden Globe Award Nomination:  Best Original Song (“Somewhere Out There”)


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