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For its first animated feature, Bavaria Film turned its back on centuries of German folklore for a story linked to the hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of Columbus's first visit to the Americas. The Magic Voyage is a clumsy copy of Disney's Ben and Me, with Christopher Columbus and Pico the woodworm taking the places of Benjamin Franklin and Amos the mouse. (Although he's supposed to be a worm, Pico sports arms and legs--but the designs are the least of the film's problems.) Pico gnaws Columbus's cube of the world into a globe, giving him the first of many ideas. While Columbus obtains financing for his voyage from hotheaded Ferdinand, flirtatious Isabella, and their weasely friar-counselor, Pico falls in love with Marilyn, the firefly princess. Marilyn is the prisoner of an evil but unexplained swarm of bugs, which take her west. Pico and Columbus follow them to the New World, where they steal a golden pseudo-Aztec idol and "make squishy" with the swarm. Although some talented artists worked on Voyage, the animation is crude, and the songs utterly forgettable. It's no wonder this maladroit film never received an American theatrical release. --Charles Solomon
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