Animated Ballet

Ballet star Michaela DePrince headlines this partially animated modern twist on the classical ballet Coppelia. Marrying Hollywood visual effects with traditional ballet, human dancers are placed in exciting animated settings. Visually stimulating, the experimental Coppelia breaks new ground in the world of ballet with an eye towards younger audiences distracted by the latest CGI wonders.

The original Coppelia ballet dates back to 1870 with more comedy woven into its narrative than most ballet productions. This new adaptation from Europe is a modern retelling of the enchanting love story between Swan (Michaela DePrince) and Franz (Daniel Camargo). Doctor Coppelius (Vito Mazzeo) is the literal mustache-twirling villain, a devious cosmetic surgeon who has grown quite popular in Swan’s home town. The nefarious doctor has designs on Franz’s heart as the fuel for a perfect robot companion he’s dubbed Coppelia. Swan has to save her love before it’s too late.

Michaela DePrince headlines this partially animated modern twist on the classical ballet Coppelia

This recent adaptation of Coppelia by the Dutch National Ballet features a fine international cast of dancers and soaring music. Camargo and DePrince share the screen with understandable chemistry. Combining animated backgrounds, the dancers move freely through them via the magic of blue and green screen effects. Producing engaging results, the fairy tale now connects better with modern audiences accustomed to animated wonders such as Toy Story and Finding Nemo.

Coppelia’s message is pointedly aimed at today’s youth, touching on vanity and superficial measures of self-esteem. As society places ever more importance on image, it’s important remaining true to yourself. The timely and heartfelt moral is well-intended, even if it comes off as a little after-school special when all is said and done.

The alluring, gentle visuals should delight audiences, especially younger children. The CGI animation isn’t state-of-the-art by Hollywood’s standards but certainly works for Coppelia’s purpose. The rousing score is wonderfully performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra. The diverse cast of performers are well known in the world of ballet. With no dialogue, their poetic ballet dancing carries the simple storytelling with flair and verve.

Coppelia is made for specialized audiences, either those bored with traditional classical ballet or looking for something new from the art form. The exciting visuals should earn it newcomers to ballet hoping for an entirely fresh experience.


The 1.78:1 presentation from Shout Factory exudes a bright, detailed aesthetic which fits the dazzling video. Boldly saturated colors and sharp definition typify the animated backgrounds. The dancers are filmed in crystal-clear clarity with impressive Hi-Def quality. Integration between the CGI animation and live-action is satisfactory. It’s not on par with the best Hollywood efforts but the European production holds its own.

The main feature runs 82 minutes on a BD-50. Coppelia receives a solid AVC encode. Nearly pristine scenes have a faint hint of banding in the highly animated segments. Shout Factory has done a fantastic job bringing the exciting visuals to Blu-ray in largely flawless video.


Made with no dialogue, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio showcases an excellent and superbly recorded orchestral score. It’s a dramatic and moving effort. Sweeping across the entire soundstage with smooth fidelity, excellent dynamics offer a pure sound closer to a musical recording than a traditional film score. Coppelia’s music soars with instrumental precision and delicate flourishes. The lovely surround mix makes elegant and tactful usage of the rear channels. The superb music entertains even when the ballet falters.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. A fine secondary 2.0 stereo DTS-HD MA soundtrack nearly mirrors the excellent surround mix.


Shout Factory includes a smattering of bonus features for Coppelia in this Blu-ray and DVD combo package. It does not appear a slipcover is available.

The Blu-ray is listed as Region A.

A Look Behind The Scenes With Star Michaela DePrince (03:11 in HD) – A brief featurette exploring how the dancing scenes were filmed in front of green screens, hosted by Michaela DePrince.

Interview With Michaela DePrince and Vito Mazzeo (06:18 in HD) – The two stars sit down together with an interviewer, discussing their characters and the ballet’s finer points.

Interview With Filmmakers From The Annecy International Film Festival (06:39 in HD) – Directors Steven deBuel, Ben Tesseur, and Jeff Tudor sit down at the French festival going over their background and how they came together for Coppelia in this joint interview.

Coppelia Trailer (02:13 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

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The visual delight seamlessly combines ballet and modern CGI animation for an enriching new experience which expands ballet’s horizons.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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