BARBIE OF SWAN LAKE
Much of Mainframes work has been produced in conjunction with toy companies where they have spun a number of tv series out from successful toy lines. Such is the case with Barbie of Swan Lake, where they craft a film around Mattels trademark girls doll. They had made two previous Barbie movies Barbie in the Nutcracker (2001), which also combined Barbie with classical music, and another fairytale adaptation, Barbie as Rapunzel (2002), and then subsequently placed her in the Mark Twain classic in Barbie as The Princess and the Pauper (2004) and went onto the likes of Barbie Fairytopia (2004), Barbie and the Magic of the Pegasus in 3D (2005), Barbie in The 12 Dancing Princesses (2006), Barbie Mermaidia (2006), Barbie Fairytopia: Magic of the Rainbow (2007), Barbie as The Island Princess (2007), Barbie & the Diamond Castle (2008), Barbie in A Christmas Carol (2008), Barbie Mariposa (2008), Barbie and the Three Musketeers (2009), Barbie Presents Thumbelina (2009), Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (2010), Barbie in a Mermaid Tale (2010), Barbie: A Perfect Christmas (2011), Barbie: A Fairy Secret (2011), Barbie: Princess Charm School (2011), Barbie in a Mermaid Tale 2 (2012), Barbie: The Princess & The Popstar (2012), Barbie and Her Sisters in a Pony Tale (2013), Barbie in The Pink Shoes (2013), Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess (2013), Barbie and the Secret Door (2014), Barbie: The Pearl Princess (2014), Barbie and Her Sisters in the Great Puppy Adventure (2015), Barbie in Princess Power (2015), Barbie in Rock'n'Royals (2015), Barbie and Her Sisters in a Puppy Chase (2016), Barbie Spy Squad (2016) and Barbie Star Light Adventures (2016).
Somewhat incongruously, Barbie is cast here as the princess in an adaptation of Tchaikovskys Swan Lake (1895). [The same fairytale was also adapted, sans Tchaikovsky, by animator Richard Rich as The Swan Princess (1994)]. The two genres do seem somewhat mismatched a girls doll that has become synonymous parlance for a bimbo sitting alongside a classical ballet. In order to highlight various accessories for toy sales, Barbie undergoes various costume changes throughout and rides in a pink swan-like coach. That said, Barbie of Swan Lake works amiably.
Clearly, Mainframe are not working with the budget that Pixars films have and their animation here is much plainer and has a certain glassy plasticity to it. This tends to jar somewhat with the nature of the fairytale, which centres on a romantic flight of the imagination more so than it does the three-dimensional roundedness of computer animation. Nevertheless, the film eventually manages to tell the fairytale with a plaintive sincerity and romantic/heroic sweep. All the requisite talking animal supporting characters are thrown in with a likable degree of humour.
The film even conducts several animated ballet sequences. Although one might notice that in comparison to the Tchaikovsky version of the story, Mainframe have watered the fairytale down to the anodyne level of the childrens film in the original, for instance, Odette and the prince are only united together in the afterlife, while the film also institutes a happy ending that is much less grim than it is in the ballet.