Does anyone remember the movie "An American Tail"? It was an animated movie by Don Bluth about a little mouse named Fievel, who falls off of a immigration ship while immigrating with his family to America from Russia, after an anti-Jewish attack by Cossack cats destroyed their home, as well as the promise by Fievel's father that there are no cats in America. This ends up being false, however. Fievel survives by slipping into a glass bottle in the ocean and floats to a shore in America, and through the movie searches for his family, all the while meeting new friends and exposing a character named Warren T Rat for extorting the American mice for protection from the cats, of which he never gives. The movie was rather dark and depressing for a children's film, which made it very different from the other children's movies released during the 80s. Still, the movie got great reception, although it was still outshined by Don Bluth's other classics, such as The Secret of NIMH and The Land Before Time. A few days ago, I had a conversation with my friends through Discord about some of our favorite movies, and of course, I brought up An American Tail. A wave of nostalgia hit me as I remembered watching the movie for the first time, back when I was 8 or 9. Memories of scenes and characters flooded back as I remembered the joy I felt while watching the story of Fievel unfold. It was then I decided I should watch the movie again, for old times sake. However, I didn't have the DVD of the movie I had all those years ago, as I had gotten it from Blockbuster when they were still around, and I didn't have the patience to wait a week for another copy from Amazon or eBay, so I decided to be a bit risky and see what I could find on some torrent sites.
It wasn't long until I found a plethora of torrents to choose from. As I was looking around the list, checking to see if they would work as well as not have any deadly viruses that would kill my laptop, one of the torrents caught my eye. I stopped myself from scrolling down the list to read the title, and that's when my curiosity made sense:
"An American Tail Original Version 1986"
My curiosity grew after I read that. I had never heard of an "original version" of the movie. Maybe they were referring to an first-release VHS copy from 1986? I thought about that for a moment, figuring that that was what the person was most likely referring to. I clicked on it to see some more info about the torrent, maybe they would explain a bit more in the description. Even if it was what I expected, it would be cool to watch one of the first copies of the movie made.
First thing I noticed was the date of upload: it was uploaded just yesterday. I found that a little weird, seeing as most torrents of the movie had been uploaded years ago, but I didn't mind it much. The date didn't really matter anyways. The second thing I noticed was that there was no comments, only a few seeders and leachers, but I figured that was because it was a recent upload. I don't remember the uploader's username, although I think it was something like "elnt" or something like that, followed by four random numbers.
I then looked at the description, hoping I'd find some answers there, only to find this:
"An American Tail original version date 6-17-86 video format .mp4"
That date couldn't be correct; the movie was released on November 21st, not June 17th. The uploader must have gotten the release date wrong, although I can't see how looking up the released date, as well as making an organized description, was so hard for them to do. Maybe they were in a rush, or too lazy? I really had no idea.
Well, I was here now, so despite my suspicion about the authenticity of the torrent, I downloaded it, and after a few minutes, it was finished. I ran a quick virus scan of the file, and nothing harmful was detected. I grabbed myself a drink and sat back down on my chair, making myself comfortable as I started to play the movie, excited for an hour of pure nostalgia. Not to my surprise, the movie was completely normal. All the characters looked and acted like how I had remembered them, and the songs were still as memorable as ever. I smiled as I watched the familiar scenes of Fievel's story unfold in front of me once more. I figured that my theory about the torrent had been correct.
That was until the movie reached it's ending.
In the actual movie, Fievel ends up in Orphan Alley, where three orphans end up convincing him that his parents don't care that he is lost, because if they did, they would have found him already. He believes them, and ends up crying himself to sleep. The next day, he is found by his family, Tony, Bridget, and Tiger, and all ends well. This was not the case with the version I watched. Instead, I was greeted with what I assume is either a fan made or unreleased alternate ending.
In this version, Fievel ends up in Orphan Alley as usual, except no one else is there but him, as well as Orphan Alley being unnamed. Rain started to pour down as Fievel looks around for a moment, and then sighs, a look of pure sadness plastered on his face.
"They'll never find me. I should've known." Fievel said. "Do they even care? Did they even try?"
Fievel seemed to think about it for a moment. His facial emotion then quickly changed from sadness to anger. It was then that the sound of thunder boomed.
"Yeah! If they did care, they would've found me right now!" Fievel shouted, his rage over the failure of his family finally being released. It was then I started to hear a faint sound in the background: It was Tanya, Fievel's sister, softly singing 'Somewhere Out There' like a lullaby. "They never cared about me! Never! Not even for a moment!"
As soon as that sentence came out, tears swelled in Fievel's eyes. He fell back onto the brick wall behind him as he broke down, covering his face with his arms as he sobbed. The sound of his crying was gut-wrenching, and I had a hard time listening to it. It sounded painful, reflecting Fievel's situation; he had lost everything, including all his hope.
The sounds of Fievel's crying and Tanya's singing was now accompanied by a low droning noise. Thunder boomed again, and different scenes from the movie, such as Fievel falling off of the ship, meeting Tony, and dancing with Tiger, flashed blurrily on the screen as his crying began getting even worse. It was then that the sound of giggling started becoming audible, the tone of it sounding malevolent and malicious. It took a moment for me to realize that the giggling was in Tony and Bridget's voices.
The low droning started to intensify as thunder boomed once more, and the two's giggling turned into hysterical laughter. The flashing scenes were then replaced by a transparent picture of Tony and Bridget. The camera slowly started to zoom in on Fievel as the picture slowly started to change, becoming black and white. The smiles on Tony and Bridget's faces became a bit bigger, and their eyes became black voids. Accompanying this terrifying transition were all these indescribable sounds that quickly began increasing in volume, overshadowing all other sounds, including Fievel's cries, which were now practically screams. Everything was in complete chaos.
It then quickly cut to the next scene, with a small group of birds bathing in a bird bath. I paused the movie and took a moment to collect myself. What the hell did I just see? There were so many questions running through my head. This had to be a fan made version, made by some kind of sicko with nothing better to do. But it all seemed to be perfectly done in Don Bluth's style. If it really was Don Bluth that made this, I couldn't understand why he did, considering this is supposed to be a movie for children. I know the man didn't exactly sugarcoat his stories for a younger audience, but this was really pushing it.
I found myself in a dilemma: either shut off of my laptop and try to forget about this, or watch the final scene of the movie. Although shutting off my laptop would seem like the better option, I knew if I did, I would just leave myself at a cliffhanger and probably go back to see the ending anyways. Besides, I was already this far into it. Might as well see how it all ends. I pressed the play button.
The scene with the birds ended, and a shot of Fievel, still in the fetal position, came on screen. It was still a bit dark out, due to the fact it was in the early morning. There was no music; in fact, there was no sound whatsoever. Fievel didn't move from his position at all, making it seem as if I was just staring at a picture of him. After a moment, he started leaning to his left, and then fell on his side in an almost ragdoll-ish way. That's when I saw why he wasn't moving.
Fievel was nothing more than a rotten mouse skeleton. Each of his bones had a tinge of light brown in them, as if he was discovered in the ground, decayed by time. The only ones I could see, however, was his skull and feet bones. His head was the first thing to hit the ground, the force of which caused that side of it to shatter on impact. His blue hat slid off because of this, and laid right beside his skull. The camera focused on this as the soft sound of distant calls from Fievel's mother became audible. Her calls echoed through the wind, never to be answered as the screen faded to black.