It was Jessica Maria MacFarlane who, in her recently published post on Nerdist, brought our eyes back to the 1986 animated film “An American Tail,” in which Fievel Mousekewitz is forced to leave his country along with his family after their mousehole (along with the human house around it) is destroyed by soldiers. If this rings any contemporary bells, it is because it is supposed to.
The film, which was originally thought of as “too depressing” for children, is filled with 19th-century cultural references, the most evident of them all the forced exile of Russian-Jewish families during the fin-de-siècle. But the film is more than just some sort of animated reconstruction of historical events with documentary value. As the author emphasizes, the film is also about family love, the determination to overcome hardships, and courage — especially the courage needed to embark oneself “on an odyssey to the promised land of cat-free, cheese-paved roads, a.k.a. America.” Yes, it is also a story about immigration. It gives immigrants a face we probably do not get to see that often in our regular news broadcasts.
But it is also a film that, contrary to what we might be used to, does not have a single hero. Actually, as MacFarlane points out, the whole Mousekewitz clan is heroic, and Fievel draws his own personal strength from his Papa’s optimistic view of life (in spite of all the disgraces they go through), his older sister Tanya’s never-exhausted hope, and his Mama’s down-to-earth practical common sense. Far from being the victim of his evil siblings and relatives, Fievel is rather supported by them – and by the most unlikely of friends, a cat who is willing to set their apparently insurmountable differences aside! — as he makes his way through a not-so-utopian New York.
To read the original article on Nerdist, click here.