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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Just do not expect historical accuracy in a cartoon musical, January 16, 2003
This review is from: Anastasia (DVD)
"Anastasia" is a animated musical that works despite some serious problems fundamental to the story for anybody who knows anything about Russian history. The legend of Anastasia has in roots in a historical truth: that when the Communists executed the Romanovs and gunned them down, the young Grand Duchess was not shot; she fainted. When it was discovered she was still alive she was clubbed and bayoneted to death. But the "truth" remains, she was not shot dead with the rest of her family. In this version that issued is rendered moot because the young Anastasia never joins her parents as they fled St. Petersburg. However, the greatest historical liberty is the idea that the Russian Revolution was the result of a curse the mad monk Gregorei Rasputin laid on the Romanovs. Forget Lenin and the Communists overthrowing the Czar; it was a crazy monk and his friend, an albino bat named Bartok.
However, "Anastasia" has several things working in its favor to counter-attack this nonsense. First, there is the haunting "Once Upon a December," which carries the mood of the story perfectly and comes into play at several key moments in the film. The rest of the music is above average and avoids cuteness for the most part (the bad guys get the fun song with "In the Dark of the Night"), but "Once Upon a December" is musically the cornerstone of the whole film. Second, there is the wonderful vocal work by Kelsey Grammer and Angela Landsbury as the supporting characters Vladimir and the Dowager Empress Marie; they are the pair who provide the film with its heart while Anna and Dmitri wait for their brains to catch up with their hearts. Third, in true giant cartoon movie style, the film reduces everything to the fundamental desire to go home and be part of a family.
Ultimately, the backbone of the story is more the 1956 Ingrid Bergman film version of the "Anastasia" story than history: a con artist wants to earn the reward for finding the lost heiress to the Russian thrown and turns an amnesia victim into Anastasia only to discover that she is the real thing and that he is in love with her. Then basically they throw in the standard evil person trying to keep the princess and her boyfriend apart (think Disney's "Sleeping Beauty" except instead of an evil queen it is a mad monk and instead of a giant dragon there is a small albino bat and the princess is really a Grand Duchess and the prince is now a former servant boy, but other than that they are remarkably the same). Besides, kids like this film and they should be allowed to do so for a few years before they discover they can not learn history from movies (and should never let watching a movie substitute for reading an assigned book).
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 3, 2010 7:20:04 PM PST
Alison Myers says:
Dude, it's a cartoon movie for kids. Of course it's not going to follow history. Yeah, because our 8-year-olds want to see her clubbed to death.

Posted on Oct 1, 2013 9:56:06 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 1, 2013 10:01:54 AM PDT
Morgana1986 says:
Of course its just a cartoon, it doesn't have to and isn't supposed to make sense!

I mean does anything make sense about gargoyles coming to live in "the Hunchback of Notre Dame" or marrying aliens with humans in countless Scifi movies and Animes?

There was even a version long before this along the same lines with Yul Brynner! This isn't a new concept, while yes it is indeed idealist its also good entertainment!

Where else are you going to find a bunch of cartoons that make sense? In this cartoon, that brought the romance of Russia out of it and I wanted to go there since I was a child. I mean think about Paris' bloody history and how much its called "The City of Lights" and sometimes "The City of Love", when in real life it has lot of bloody history too.

Think about how they romance England, when in real life England is famous for being bloodthirsty tea drinkers who take no responsibility for their bloody history.

So why are you all the sudden having a cow when Russia is allowed to romance their own history with this wonderful cartoon? Where else are you going to find a talkative albino bat? Where else will you find an evil monk who wants to kill the last Romanov to the throne?

I can handle the bloody history of Russia and I will take my chances to see this wonderful and beautiful country! Since when wasn't it human or Hollywood to romance something, or rewrite the truth?

This is Hollywood, you can't take it very seriously, when they do bios on famous historical figures, they still embellish the truth!
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Lawrance M. Bernabo
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