The daughter of the last Russian Tsar, Nicolas II, Anastasia is found by two Russian con men, Dimitri and Vladimir, who seek the reward that her grandmother, the Dowager Empress Marie, promised to the ones who'll find her. But the evil mystic of the Tsar family, Rasputin, still wants the Romanov family to be destroyed forever. Written by
When Don Bluth and Gary Goldman began researching the actual events, they discovered the history of Anastasia and the Romanov dynasty was too dark for their film, and decided to use the basic facts of the Romanovs' demise and the Russian Revolution as a starting point and ask, "What if this girl escaped, and what would have happened to her?" opting to "'tell a myth or a fairy tale.'" Bluth also did not take into consideration depicting Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks as the villains, and instead incorporated Grigori Rasputin, explaining "We wanted to stay out of politics." In reality, Rasputin was already dead when the Romanovs were assassinated. In addition to this, Bluth created the idea for Bartok, the albino bat, as a sidekick for Rasputin. "I just thought the villain had to have a comic sidekick, just to let everyone know that it was all right to laugh. A bat seemed a natural friend for Rasputin. Making him a white bat came later - just to make him different." See more »
Marie did not flee Russia during or immediately after the overthrow of the Russian monarchy. She remained in Russia until 1919. See more »
Dowager Empress Marie:
There was a time, not very long ago, where we lived in an enchanted world of elegant palaces and grand parties. The year was 1916, and my son, Nicholas, was the czar of Imperial Russia.
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Clips of the characters shown are shown along with the names of their respective actors during the the beginning of the second part of the initial credits. See more »
The story/legend of Princess Anastasia of Russia is an unlikely tale to be told in an animated musical. But it works, mainly because it doesn't confuse its main audience, children; but yet, at the same time, it provides enough entertainment for its older audience, adults.
"Anastasia" is based loosely on the same legendary tale as the 1956 motion picture starring Ingrid Bergman. Supposedly, as the legend goes, Russia's ruling Romanov family was murdered in the upheaval of revolution, and one child, Anastasia, escaped the carnage and survived to make a valid claim for the throne. Anastasia was the granddaughter of the Dowager Empress Marie (voiced, in this film, by Angela Lansbury), who herself escaped to Paris and now wearily rejects one imposter after another.
Meg Ryan provides the vocals for Anastasia. The film opens with her escaping from Rasputin (Christopher Lloyd); the only survivor is Anastasia and her grandmother. She spends years in a cruel orphanage, losing all memory of her earlier days. Then as a lithe and spirited teenager, she falls into the clutches of two con men named Dimitri (John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammer). They both worked in the royal court and have insider knowledge; their scheme is to tutor an imposter until she can fool the Dowager Empress. The irony, which the movie makes much of, is that this impostor is, in fact, the real thing.
The only minor problem with "Anastasia" is how it tries to fill in the story with an overly-evil (and truly unbelievable) villian. The ending is more than ridiculous. If the entire tale was a "Sleeping Beauty"-type-story, it might be more believable, but right as we are led to believe this story is BASED on something somewhat true and based on true events, they throw in a living-dead-monster, Rasputin, to try and kill Anastasia. Good if the movie was a fantasy set up from the beginning, but it wasn't. It was a more serious 'toon turned into a fantasy one by the end.
The film's directors and producers (and former Disney artists) Don Bluth and Gary Goldman put together this film. Their film credits include "An American Tail" and "All Dogs Go to Heaven." No surprise, because the film, "Anastasia," like the other films, is darker than most fairy-tale-Disney-movies. It's more graphic, gritty and real, which is why the end is so disappointing.
In a time when CGI seems to be taking over the animation world, "Anastasia" is a good reminder that cartoon films can still be made good. A "Monsters, Inc.," it isn't, but it is definitely good.
I would give "Anastasia" a solid "4," but the end was ridiculous and predictable, and way out of turn for a film of its nature. It set itself up as a serious animated film, but then dropped everything and switched to fantasy. Its only blunder is this.
3/5 stars -
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