Get the Facts
Did you know Fievel was named after Steven Spielberg's grandfather? That An American Tail was released to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the completion of the Statue of Liberty? Or that Nellie Brie was based off an actual historical figure? Here you'll find this and more trivia.
- Fievel, or rather, Feivel, was the name of producer Steven Spielberg's grandfather. The name is Hebrew and Yiddish in origin, meaning "Bright One".
- The name Fievel is related to the Greek name Phoebus, who was an ancient sun god.
- The spelling "Fievel" was adopted in English speaking countries so as to avoid confusion, however in Yiddish and most Germanic languages, the spelling would sound out like "Fee-vel".
- The name 'Feivel' is still in the opening credits of the first movie.
- Don Bluth originally didn't like the name Fievel because it sounded too foreign in his opinion and he was worried that audiences would forget it, but a compromise was reached by having Fievel recieve the nickname 'Philly'.
The evil cat from Secret of NIMH, Dragon, makes a sneak cameo appearance during the attack on the market place shortly after Tony
meet. This is a recycled animation from Secret of NIMH Bluth's crew threw in, perhaps to save a little money and time.
- The Statue of Liberty originally was the golden color that it appears to be in the first movie. It is made of copper, and slowly rusted into the greenish color it is today. The direct-to-video sequels incorrectly show the statue in its modern green color.
- Some of the animators referred to An American Tail as NIMH II when making it, because of it's many similarities with their first film The Secret of NIMH. Of course we know, AAT turned out much better than the real NIMH II...according to popular opinion.
- Scenes in which the Mousekewitz family travel from Shostka to Hamburg, Fievel's life in the sweatshop (including a song), Fievel and Tony searching for Fievel's family together, and how the Mousekewitz family meets Tiger near the end of the film were regrettably cut from the script. However some of these scenes do show up in the novelization of the movie.
- Phillip Glasser was chosen to do the voice of Fievel after Don Bluth over heard him auditioning for an Oscar Meyer commercial. He would continue to voice Fievel in all of the character's appearances until the making of The Treasure of Manhattan Island. By then, he was too old, and Thomas Dekker, who'd been voicing Littlefoot in some of the Land Before Time sequels, took over as Fievel.
- Steven Spielberg was against the idea of having the animation for An American Tail done entirely in Ireland, wanting it to be done in America, but he allowed for it to be painted there. Fievel Goes West on the other hand, which Spielberg also was involved with, was made entirely in England.
- An American Tail not only topped The Great Mouse Detective's box office profits, a Disney movie released the same year, but it also beat out two other Disney movies in theaters at the time, Song of the South and Lady and the Tramp, which were re-issued by Disney during AAT's initial run in the movie theaters. It became the biggest animated blockbuster of all time up to that point. It's sequel, Fievel Goes West, may not have done as well in comparison, but it did well enough considering it was up against Disney's Beauty and the Beast. One could easily credit An American Tail for jumpstarting the sagging animation industry of the time and directly leading to the animation renaissance, once Disney reacted to this new competition from Don Bluth and Amblin.
An early version of Warren T. Rat
was to be the villain of one of Bluth's earlier works, Banjo the Woodpile Cat. It was also to have a termite similar to Digit
. However Banjo was made into a shorter feature rather than a full length motion picture, and the villain, to be named Rocko, was cut, as was the termite. Though not identical, Rocko seems to have been a prototype for Warren.
An American Tail is known as 'Feivel Der Mauswanderer' in Germany, and 'Un Cuento Americano' in Spanish speaking countries, with the 'tail' pun dropped.
, Pat Musick
, and Dom Deluise
were the only voice actors to continuously reprise their respective character's voices throughout the series, even in the direct-to-video sequels, though Pat Musick's Tony Toponi doesn't appear in every installment, and Nehemiah Persoff does not voice Papa in Fievel's American Tails.
It's no suprise, given the historical theme of the AAT series, that many of the events are based off of history. But also, many of the characters are based off of actual historical figures. Examples are Honest John
, who is based of Boss Tweed, a corrupt polititian in charge of Tammany Hall in the 1800's, Wylie Burp
, based off of Wyatt Earp who was a famous lawman in the West, and Nellie Brie
, based off an investigative reporter of the era named Nellie Bly.
The Statue of Liberty was completed in 1886, exactly 100 years before An American Tail was released.
- The mouse working at Castle Garden in the first movie refers to someone as Emily Mousekewitz when the Mousekewitz family first arrives in America. This may be Mama's real first name, though it's also possible that it's her or Yasha's new American name.
The Beach Neumatic Railway, the underground train in The Treasure of Manhattan Island, was actually real. The Native American mice? Hmm...plausable but I don't know.
Art Spiegelman, cartoonist behind the Maus comic series about the Holocaust only with mice as Jews and cats as Nazi's, is not a very big AAT fan. He thinks Kirschner and Spielberg stole his idea. Hey, not all of the mice in An American Tail are Jewish...
Simon Wells, co-director of Fievel Goes West, is the great-grandson of H.G. Wells.
Not only did An American Tail kickstart the animation industry into a renaissance, it also started a new trend with the song "Somewhere Out There
". Nearly every animated movie and even a few live action movies for the next decade or so had one slow touchy-feely song
that was normally guaranteed to at least be nominated for an award, and this can be credited to the success of Somewhere Out There.
Unless we didn't see Fievel go through immigration after he finds his family, Fievel is actually an illegal immigrant!
You can hear the melody that would later inspire the song "Dreams to Dream
" in the background orchestration during the Orphan Alley scene in An American Tail, when the camera begins to pan out and we see the Alley as a whole.
In the beginning of the first An American Tail movie, Papa Mousekewitz gives Fievel and Tanya presents for Hanukkah; in fact, Fievel seems to fully expect to recieve a present. The truth is that recieving presents for Hanukkah was a tradition started in America much later, perhaps because Jewish children felt left out when hearing their non-Jewish friends go on and on about getting Christmas presents. Hanukkah isn't even the most important of the Jewish holidays, at least traditionally, it seems to have been elevated to such a status in response to Christmas.
The Giant Mouse of Minsk folktale told by Papa seems to be a mouse version of the Jewish folktale the Golem of Prague
It's quite possible that Fievel Goes West takes place in Utah, because there is a town there called Green River
there. The Green River is an actual river that runs through Wyoming, Colorado and Utah.
Rumor has it that Mrs. Brisby makes a cameo during the scene in the first movie when mice are waving farewell to the ship as it leaves Hamburg. The mouse in question is a caped mouse at the far right of the screen. Upon closer inspection, however, it doesn't look much like Mrs. Brisby. It is perhaps due to the fact that you only see the mouse for a couple seconds.
During the production of 'Fievel Goes West', Steven Spielberg finished a nasty divorce with Amy Irving, voice actress of Miss Kitty. What does the film introduce Miss Kitty doing? Breaking up with Tiger. Think about that now. Ouch.