Royally Mysterious: ‘Anastasia’ Retrospective

Updated on March 26, 2018
Neutrastaff profile image

Mr. Oneil is a professional journalist who graduated from Norfolk State University with a BA in journalism.

Original Film Poster

There are other beautiful visuals like this in the film.
There are other beautiful visuals like this in the film. | Source

The Best of Fox Animation Studios

Thought I’d take a moment to look back at my favorite Christmas movie. While not actually a Christmas movie, it did come out around Christmas time in 1997. Directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, the film is the animated musical adventure fantasy Anastasia.

The plot follows a very fictionalized version of the real life Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov. The former royal advisor to the Romanovs, Grigori Rasputin, wants revenge for being fired so he sells his soul for the power to destroy them. He places a curse on the family, which causes the Russian Revolution that ends their reign. As Anastasia and her grandmother, Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna, are escaping, Anastasia becomes separated and bumps her head while her grandmother watches helplessly.

A decade later, rumors circle around Russia that the grand duchess may still be alive. The Dowager Empress has a reward for anyone who can reunite her with her granddaughter. Conman Dimitri and his friend Vladimir attempt to capitalize on this by finding a girl that they can play off as Anastasia. They meet amnesiac orphan Anya who’s attempting to regain her memories. Dimitri and Vladimir convince Anya that she’s probably Anastasia and the trio, along with Anya’s dog Pooka, embark on a journey to Paris to meet the Dowager Empress.

Rasputin, who died during the revolution, has revived and hears rumors that Anastasia is still alive. Believing that Anya is Anastasia, he uses his supernatural abilities to go after her to finally finish off the Romanovs.

The film has a cast that has good chemistry. Meg Ryan plays Anya, who has no idea who she is or where she came from. A bit of a spoiler, while the film wants you to think that Anya is a completely new character after the intro, near the end it’s revealed that she is indeed Anastasia. She has quite a hard journey on her way from the orphanage to reuniting with her grandmother. She’s pretty sarcastic, especially towards Dimitri, however they both have good interactions with one another. Anya is strong and independent. Her drive and determination rivals that of even the fiercest Disney princesses.

John Cusack plays Dimitri. As a child he worked in the Catherine Palace. In the prologue he actually helps Anastasia and the Dowager Empress escape the Russian Revolution. Older Dimitri is a con-artist who’s looking for someone to pretend to be Anastasia. He starts off selfish but eventually gains a conscious once he realizes that Anya is actually Anastasia. He then cares less for the reward and focuses more on reuniting Anastasia with her grandmother, though he also gains feelings for her, which is a stereotypical trope for a film like this.

Kelsey Grammer plays Vladimir or Vlad. He’s Dimitri's colleague who helps him hold auditions to find an Anastasia lookalike. Despite this he’s actually very likable. He has a close connection with Sophie, voiced by Bernadette Peters, who’s the Dowager Empress’s cousin.

Grigori Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd, is the main antagonist. He was once the Romanov’s royal advisor but was apparently fired. It’s never specifically stated that he was fired but it’s strongly hinted that he was. Out of spite he sells his soul for power, which he uses to curse the Romanov family. He does die similarly to the real Rasputin, drowning in a river, but later revives. Rasputin is another over-the-top large ham villain who completely steals the spotlight whenever he’s onscreen. Hank Azaria voices Bartok, a talking bat who’s Rasputin’s pet sidekick. He's a minor character who mostly serves as minor comic relief.

Angela Lansbury voices Dowager Empress Marie, who carries herself with grace and elegance in all of her appearances. After she loses Anastasia she becomes broken and bitter. She acts somewhat cold to others and is withdrawn. However, once she’s reunited with her granddaughter she becomes much more perky and cheerful, smiling often and becoming warmer to others.

The film has a large variation of songs that mixes with the mystical fantasy overview of the film. Some of the songs includes ‘Journey to the Past’ performed by Aaliyah, ‘At the Beginning’ performed by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis, and ‘Once Upon a December’ performed by Liz Callaway. There are several others, of which includes Liz Callaway’s version of ‘Journey to the Past’. The entire Anastasia soundtrack was released shortly before the film hit theaters.

The visuals are breathtaking. Many of the places featured in the film are a sight to behold. The most memorable visual is Anya’s fantasy inside the abandoned ballroom where she visualizes people dancing and sings ‘Once Upon a December’. The one downside is that there is CGI involved which noticeably stands out in some scenes.

Overall, and on a personal note, I highly recommend Anastasia. As I mentioned, this is my favorite film to watch around the holiday season, despite it having little to do with even winter. There are other things to enjoy, such as the beautiful visuals, amazing musical numbers, and interesting story. The best thing in the film is the character development. The central characters start off one way but eventually develop into different people as the film goes on. The ending is a bit open-ended and does leave you wanting to know what happens next. The romance is a bit cliché but fits in well and makes the ending complete. Another thing is Rasputin. Though he’s an interesting villain you could take him out after his resurrection and it wouldn’t change much in the story. The beautiful animation, cast chemistry, and a heart-filled story of returning home is sure the warm the hearts of many.

Original film trailer

Check out the film here

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Staff Oneil


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)