Anastasia

Cassi Misciagna, Feature Editor

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Rating: TV-PG

Score: 7 out of 10

 

Anastasia is an hour and a half-long animated movie that was created by former Disney employees Don Bluth and Gary Goldman in 1997 inspired by the rumored survival of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. In the film, an eight-year-old Anastasia is separated from her family while escaping from the palace with her grandmother, and is then sent to live in an orphanage. Unfortunately, though, she is unable to remember anything of her prior life and longs to find her family again. Upon her release from the orphanage though, she accidently discovers Dimitri and Vlad, two con-men trying to become rich by finding a girl to pose as the lost Grand Duchess, and is unwittingly caught up in their scheme.  

 

The protagonist, Anastasia, is an amazingly dynamic female character throughout the film. During the first act, she is portrayed as arrogant and snobby to the audience by often fighting with and disobeying Dimitri and Vlad over the smallest of things, but eventually gets along with each after learning of their own struggles. In addition, she is quick-thinking, brave, and determined, which allows her to keep going throughout the journey despite the trials Rasputin puts in her path. Throughout their voyage, Dimitri and Vlad keep her ignorant of their plans claiming to only want to help her, which initially leads to hesitation on her part and anger upon the realization. However, in the end she is reunited with her grandmother, and finds out more about her past and what she wants for her future which she lacks at the start of the film.    

 

Dimitri is a primary supporting character who acts as her romantic interest throughout the film, and one of the two con-artists who initially inspire her to travel to Paris. During the start of the film, he attempts to convince Anastasia to continue, yet at the same time vexes her at every opportunity. However, as the movie progresses, he tries to redeem himself for his wrongdoings by convincing Anastasia to stay for her own future upon realizing she is the true princess. In fact, he even forces Maria Feodorovna, Anastasia’s grandmother, to meet with her to achieve his goal while also relinquishing the money that would make him rich.  

 

In the film, Rasputin, an evil wizard who sold his soul to destroy the royal family, serves as the main antagonist and the cause of the Russian Revolution. Much like the villain Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, he doesn’t seem to have much of a motive for his actions, but is nonetheless entertaining to watch. However, unlike many movie villains, he also doesn’t really act seriously throughout a remainder of the story, and is often just asking for cologne. Furthermore, many of his minions are downright laughable except for his shadow creatures that end up doing most of his bidding. Within the final act, he is also noticeably absent up until the finale because of the movie’s focus on Anastasia’s reunion with her grandmother instead.  

 

Throughout the film, the scenery is bright and cheery with an array of colors, but in scenes with Rasputin the abundance is immediately substituted with dark browns and greens. For example, in the first act, the screen is covered in white to represent the snowy climate of Russia, yet as the group travels onward, bright greens and oranges quickly consume the screen. However, despite the picturesque scenery, there are equally odd and creepy scenes as well. One example would be when Rasputin stretches and separates his limbs throughout the movie. In fact, in one scene he even places his head inside of his ribcage as he talks to himself about attacking Anastasia. Fortunately, the imagery is brief and logical since Rasputin is undead.  

 

The movie, though a family friendly tale, rewrites history in almost every way to do so. Sadly, Anastasia was assassinated at the age of seventeen in 1918 during the Russian revolution along with the rest of the Romanov’s monarchy. Furthermore, Rasputin was obviously not an undead wizard who caused the Russian Revolution, however he did know the royal family during his lifetime. In fact, he helped cure Czar Nicholas II’s son, Prince Alexis, of his hemophilia and was one of Czarina Alexandra’s closest advisors. He also seemingly did have abilities that at the time seemed otherworldly. For example, he possessed an amazing ability to predict the future and survived multiple attempts of poisoning before his death in 1916 by gunshot.  
For fans of classic two-dimensional Disney animations, the movie is a perfect spiritual successor to many of their animated musicals created during the Disney renaissance of the early 90’s. Taking heavy inspiration from Disney, Bluth and Goldman replicate the basic feeling of their light-hearted music, humorous characters, and colorful art style as a flattering homage to their well-known predecessor. Furthermore, due to the films initial success, Anastasia has spawned a live-action play of the same name that will be coming to Broadway this year on April 24, 2017. Today, the film can be bought at a relatively cheap price of $5 for DVD and around $10 for Blu-ray on its own, but it is also often sold in collections along with another movies Don Bluth has worked on.

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