Anastasia (1997 movie)

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Anastasia-don-bluth.jpg
Original theatrical poster for Anastasia.

Anastasia is an animated feature created at Fox Animation Studios, produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, and released on November 21, 1997 by Twentieth Century Fox. A musical in the vein of then-popular Disney animated features, the film features songs by Stephen Flaherty and David Newman. A fairy-tale style adaptation of the legend of the Russian grand duchess Anastasia, the plot of the film imagines that Anastasia, daughter of the last Russian Tsar, survives the slaughter of the Imperial family, loses her memory, battles the ghost of the evil monk Rasputin and his sidekick Bartok, a singing white fruit bat, convinces her grandmother of her true identity, and falls in love with the kitchen boy (Dmitri) who helped her survive. The film is notable for being one of Bluth's most critically acclaimed works, and for being one of the few animated features produced in the widescreen CinemaScope process.

The idea for the film originates from Fox's 1956 live-action film version of Anastasia. Fox executives gave Bluth and Goldman the choice of creating either an animated adaptation of that film or of the musical My Fair Lady.

The movie features the voices of Meg Ryan as Anastasia, John Cusack as Dimitri, Kelsey Grammer as Vladimir, Christopher Lloyd as Rasputin, Hank Azaria as Bartok, Bernadette Peters as Sophie, Kirsten Dunst as the young Anastasia, Angela Lansbury as Dowager Empress Marie, Rick Jones as Tzar Nicholas II, Liz Callaway, and Andrea Martin.

Anastasia was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score and Best Music, Original Song for "Journey to the Past". At the awards ceremony, "Journey to the Past" was performed by R&B singer Aaliyah, who recorded the pop single version of the song.

Fictionalization of historic events

While it may seem uncourteous to cavil at inaccuracies in a fictional film in which a bat can sing, the movie did inspire some controversy as many history teachers quailed at the prospect of having to correct the misimpressions of a generation of students educated only by its tutelage, and several Orthodox Christians were offended due to the historical Anastasia's sainthood (declared formally the next year).

Some of the differences with actual history include:

  • Though the body of two members of the Russian Imperial Family, including one of the daughters, have not been found, there is no evidence that any family members, including Anastasia, survived.
  • In the film, a curse from Rasputin brings about the Russian Revolution. In actuality, it was Russia's dismal performance in World War I that caused the Revolution, and Rasputin was a religious pilgrim and friend to the royal family who gained the trust of the czarina Alexandra when he seemed to alleviate the symptoms of hemophilia that her son suffered from, although he was often drunk.
  • The film depicts Anastasia as escaping from the Imperial Palace during the Revolution, when in fact she stayed with her family, living at first in Tsarskoe Selo and later in Tobolsk in Siberia until they were executed by the Bolsheviks in Yekaterinburg more than a year after the Revolution.
  • In the film, Anastasia is only a young child at the time of the Revolution, when in fact, she was nearly 16.
  • The Dowager Empress did not live in Paris, either before or after the Revolution. She lived in Russia until 1920, when she evacuated the Crimea with White forces, and thereafter in her native Denmark.
  • At the times the story takes place, St. Petersburg was known as Petrograd or Leningrad, not St. Petersburg, as it is called in the movie.


Bluth and Goldman, who did extensive historical research on the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia and the Russian Revolution for the film, never intended for their film to be scrupulously analyzed for historical accuracy; their film is based upon the (fictional) legend of Anastasia having survived the slaughter of the family. A disclaimer can be found at the end of the credits for the film. It reads as follows:

"While some of the characters and events depicted in this film were inspired by well-known historical figures and events, the portrayal of such characters and the depiction of such events are fictional. All other characters and incidents protrayed and names used were created for the purpose of fictitious dramatization and any similarity to the names, characters, and history of actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and unintentional."

External link

sv:Anastasia (film)

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