Producer Steven Spielberg's first dabble in animation follows the 19th century adventures of a young Russian mouse who is washed overboard when his family moves to America. Smashing attention to detail and a menagerie of oddball characters ensure the skittery immigrant finds plenty of local colour in his adopted country. But yikes, despite all the rumours, the place is actually swarming with cats!
This faintly offbeat cartoon feature from independent director Don Bluth outpointed anything the rival Disney studio had produced since The Jungle Book almost 20 years earlier.
There certainly can't be many animated features that would dare start their story in 1885 Russia.
Beneath the Moscowitz family, fleeing repression to start a new life in America, live the Mousekewitzes, emigrating to the States because they think, in the words of the film's catchiest song 'There are no cats in America'!
The grim voyage of the mice is nicely caught by the animators without any recourse to over-sombre detail.
The Mousekewitz son, Fievel, is washed overboard, arrives in America in a bottle and sets out to find his family.
From here on, the film slips into slightly more routine cat-and-mouse stuff, but there are two or three excellent characters.
There's a calculating cockroach; Henri le Pigeon, busy decorating the Statue of Liberty; and a fat orange cat (voiced by Dom DeLuise) who's vegetarian (apart from the occasional fish), a thicko and a softie and becomes Fievel's friend.
Although the film drifts a bit at the end, the body of its story bulges with invention and bright ideas.