Anastasia (Animation)

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"All right, Disney, you win -- with your princesses, and your musicals, and your Coming of Age stories with sweeping, snarky romances -- you win. If you can't beat them, join them. Copy the Disney formula and marketing strategy, and you will make money."
The Nostalgia Chick on Anastasia.

Don Bluth's 1997 very loose adaption of a 1956 Ingrid Bergman film, which itself was already very, very loosely based on the 'life' of the Grand Duchess Anastasia of Russia. The story goes like this...

In 1916, Nicholas II, Czar of Russia, and his family, the Romanovs, were very happy until they were cursed by the evil Rasputin and their people revolted against them for some mystical reason, aided by demons. All of the Romanovs apparently died in the attack except the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna Romanova, the Czar's mother. A young kitchen boy helped Marie and one of the Czar's daughters, the eight-year-old Anastasia, escape. However, she and Marie got separated when Anastasia fell from a train and, presumably, died.

Ten years later (1926), Anya, an eighteen-year-old orphan making her way in the world for the first time, decides to head for Paris. She hopes to find her family there, guided by the message "Together in Paris" inscribed on the necklace she was found with in an amnesiac state as a child.

She heads for St. Petersburg, hoping to get a train from there to Paris, but she does not have the appropriate travel papers. Following the advice of a stranger, she locates a young forger and conman called Dimitri in the old palace. For his part, Dimitri is planning on running a con. Rumor has it that Anastasia may have survived the attack, and the Dowager Empress has offered a huge reward to anyone who can reunite Anastasia with her. Dimitri and his friend Vladimir notice that this young woman who has come to them for travel papers looks strikingly like an older version of Anastasia.

The two men put to Anya the idea that she may actually be Anastasia, but don't mention the reward. Vlad then forges the papers to travel out of the country so that they can all go to Paris to meet the Dowager Empress. In the meantime, Rasputin is in limbo until all the Romanovs are dead. His animal sidekick, a bat named Bartok, upon seeing Anya, is pulled into limbo by Rasputin's mystic relic, tells Rasputin about Anya and they realize she must actually be Anastasia.

The rest of the film deals with Anya learning to become more ladylike while Rasputin calls upon the powers of hell to try and kill her. The ending, like most animated movies, is a happy one; however, it is enlightening in a few ways. It's better if you see it.

Contrary to popular belief, this movie was not produced by Disney.

Got a Direct to Video prequel in the form of Bartok the Magnificent,[1] which deals with the plucky little bat impressing people with his "special abilities". It's important to note that this is the only sequel that Bluth has ever been involved with.


Tropes used in Anastasia (Animation) include:
  • All Animation Is Disney: Falls victim to this quite often. One of its more Disneyesque home video covers even provides the page image.
  • Almost Kiss: Anya and Dimitri do this at least twice. They finally get to kiss for real at the end.
  • And This Is For: Anastasia's Crowning Moment of Awesome (to Rasputin as she kills him) "This is for Dimitri! This is for my family! And this... this is for you! Do svidaniya!"
  • Animated Musical
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Poor Dimitri finally decides to do the right thing when he gets found out and Anastasia reacts about as well as one might expect.
  • Ascended Extra: The villain's Non-Human Sidekick bat Bartok got a movie.
  • At the Opera Tonight: Well, at the ballet. Of "Cinderella".
  • At the Crossroads: in the Journey To The Past sequence
  • Award Bait Song: "Journey to the Past", performed by Aaliyah at the Academy Awards.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Sure, the communists have taken over Russia and Anya runs off with Dimitri in the end, but she still gets a sparkly crown. She gives it back before leaving with her boyfriend, though.
  • Beta Couple: Vlad and Sophie.
  • Big Bad: Rasputin.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Sophie is very fun and kind-hearted, as well as really big.
  • Character Title
  • Clothing Damage: Happens to Anya during the battle with Rasputin.
  • Coming of Age Story
  • Conspicuous CG: Like whoa. This is the first movie where Don Bluth swapped out his almost-trademark "oh, let's just build a small model of this horrifically hard-to-draw-and-animate thing and rotoscope it" special effect for computer generated imagery. You can tell.
    • The crashing chandelier looks like it comes from a different movie entirely.
    • Ditto the boat and the music box.
    • And Rasputin's reliquary.
    • Don't forget the train.
    • And the pegasus statue (minus the mane which is obviously 2D, creating an odd effect overall)
  • Costume Porn: The movie is full of this. Most notable examples would have to be Anya's yellow silk Dream Sequence dress, the svelte navy and sparkly Parisian Opera dress, her blue court dress at the beginning of the movie, and her yellow court dress at the end of the movie.
  • Crowd Song: "A Rumor in St. Petersburg" and "Paris Hold the Key (to Your Heart)".
  • Dance of Romance: Anastasia and Dimitri, while Vladimir lampshades this with a brief song.
  • Dark Is Evil: Rasputin is the darkest-coloured character, says he obtained his powers by selling his soul to "the Dark Forces", and his musical number is called "In The Dark Of The Night".
    • For some reason, his powers often manifest as green light, though.
  • Deal with the Devil: At the beginning, it is made clear that Rasputin has sold his soul in exchange for doom unto the Romanov line. This deal apparently also included being turned into an immortal undead corpse until his revenge is completed or his reliquary is destroyed.
    • Some of the dubs, like the Russian dub, even outright say he gained his powers from Satan.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: "Once Upon a December", where Anya half-remembers, half-imagines a ball in the Imperial Palace, complete with Pimped-Out Dress.
  • Disney Death
  • Disneyfication: Of the play and history itself. Bluth has admitted he never intended it to be accurate.
  • Dream Melody: Once Upon a December
  • Easy Amnesia: Or at least, it was easy for her to get it... The bump to her head caused no other damage, and as far as we can tell, only made her forget who she was.
    • Given she was all of, what, eight? She gets knocked out, and what child would want to remember that? It's possible she repressed it.
  • Everyone Can See It: Well, Vlad definitely can, and Sophie appears to share his suspicions, and the Dowager Empress figures it out pretty quickly.
  • Evil is Petty: Rasputin's chief obsession is ruining an orphan girl's chance at happiness.
  • Evil Plan: Everything is kicked off by Rasptutinian's desire to kill the Romanov family. He continues with this plan after the time skip.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Rasputin.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Rasputin's.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Rasputin, again.
  • Fandom Nod: Look closely, and you'll see little visual shout-outs to other movies from Don Bluth's history. (The squirrels look like they've walked right off the set of Sleeping Beauty, Bartok is sucked into Hell just like Charlie, there's a spooky thorn bush near the end that Brutus might be guarding, and so on).
  • Fiery Redhead: Anya/Anastasia.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Anya's purple gloves in snowy Russia.
  • Follow the Leader: See the quote from The Nostalgia Chick above.
  • Foot Focus: Pooka begins licking Anya's feet, making her laugh and distracting her from remembering that she once owned the music box. We get another closeup of her feet a few minutes later, when Anya nearly sleepwalks off a ship.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Some of her dresses.
  • Gay Paree
  • Genki Girl: Hi, Sophie!
  • Hammer and Sickle Removed For Your Protection: Very little is really mentioned in the way of politics. The closest we get is when Vlad complains when the colour of the ink for travel papers changes from blue to red, blowing his forged ones: "That's what I hate about this government, everything is in Red!" We do see Bolsheviks storm the palace, but it is said that this is due to Rasputin's curse causing people to hate the Romanovs, because why the heck not?
    • Averted when Anya tries to get a ticket. The man at the ticket counter does in fact have a hammer and sickle on his hat.
    • There is also a 'blink-and-you-will-miss-it' moment on the train when the camera momentarily looks over one of the character's shoulders at his tickets. For that brief moment, one can make out 'Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' with the attendant emblems.
      • Contrary to what the page description implies, the Bolsheviks didn't overthrow Tsar Nicholas II. The Tsar was overthrown in the Liberal(-ish) February Revolution in 1917 (and was forced to abdicate the throne in March), and it was this provisional government that was overthrown by Lenin and his gang. The Bolsheviks also significantly exaggerated how dramatic events were - the Winter Palace was nearly empty, and the few government officials there were forced to write their own arrest papers by the illiterate revolutionaries. The Romanovs were eventually executed on Lenin's orders, though.
  • Happily Ever After: In the movie. In reality, however, it´s another story...
  • Harmless Villain: Well, more like ineffectual. You could cut Rasputin from the movie completely and the only part of the story that would really have been affected would be the train wreck (which could be easily justified by subpar Soviet construction) and the lack of a kick-ass Villain Song.
  • Historical Domain Character
  • Historical Fantasy: All the complaints about the movie's historical inaccuracies seem a little weird when you stop and think that it also includes an undead wizard and a talking bat.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The Romanovs were not exactly ideal rulers, leaning toward racial oppression among other things. They've historically gotten a pass simply because the Soviets were so much worse.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Rasputin was an enigma but undoubtedly an ally of the Romanovs.
  • Inhuman Human: Rasputin Came Back Wrong, and is rather narked about it.
  • Ironic Echo
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Dimitri, shown most clearly when he refuses the reward money for reuniting Anastasia and her grandmother.
  • "I Want" Song: "Journey to the Past", sung by Anya as she dares to travel to Paris, to find a real family. And "Once Upon A December".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dimitri, and quite proud of the 'jerk' aspect.
  • Large Ham: Rasputin, Bartok, Vladimir, and Sophie all qualify.
  • Minion with an F In Evil: Bartok.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dimitri. When they originally animated him, they actually thought he was too "obviously cute" - so they added the bump on his nose to tone it down. It backfired.
  • The Musical: Most of the songs are pretty good, actually.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Bartok the bat for Rasputin. Pooka the dog for Anya. Bartok talks, Pooka doesn't (thankfully avoiding too much cuteness).
  • Nostalgic Music Box: Literally.
  • Not Afraid of You Anymore: Anastasia says this to Rasputin at the end.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Realistically speaking, every character in this movie should have had some kind of European accent. But in the main cast, the only ones who made any attempt were Kelsey Grammer, who honestly does a pretty good job making Vlad sound Russian, and Angela Lansbury, who uses her natural British accent as the Dowager Empress. (The real Marie Feodorovna was actually born Princess Dagmar of Denmark.)
  • Not My Driver: Dimitri hijacks the Dowager Empress's car in order to force her to see Anastasia and be convinced that she's the real deal.
  • Not Using the Z Word: Rasputin gets progressively more gruesome throughout the film.
  • Off-Model: Anastasia looked uglier on the "Family Fun" DVD case than she usually does in the movie. Fortunately, corrected versions are available.
    • Throughout most of the movie, it's fairly easy to tell that Anya is almost as tall as Dimitri is. Contrary to that, in the scene where Dimitri rescues her from sleepwalking overboard, when she presses close against him, she's very plainly almost a full head shorter than she's supposed to be. Her stance, and the way Dimitri is holding her close doesn't provide a valid excuse for her being that short, either.
    • The dress Dimitri buys for Anya when they get on the ship, the one she wears when learning to waltz, changes from the scene in which he gives it to her to when she's first seen wearing it. When he gives it to her, it has distinct white ruffles on the collar and sleeves. When she emerges on deck actually wearing it, it's a plain blue dress.
      • That could have been due to Anya changing it though, as she expressed a dislike for its original appearance.
  • Oh God, with the Verbing!: "Enough with the glowing and the smoke people!." Well said, Bartok.
  • Ominous Russian Chanting: During the prologue's recapitulation of the coup set off by the curse; this troper would very much like to know what the chorus was singing. It happens again in the finale during Rasputin's death scene.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: The "Together in Paris" necklace, which the viewer knows from the start of the movie is a key to a music box the Dowager Empress had commissioned for Anastasia as a child. Additionally, Dimitri and the music box that goes together with the necklace.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Rasputin.
  • Parental Abandonment: Like clockwork, this element is always in Bluth films. But this time, we do get to know a little more about her family, and Anya's lack of family identity isn't incidental to her character. It's the driving force behind her journey throughout the film, which is a nice change of pace for a trope that in animation is often just tacked on for the sake of it.
  • Pig Latin: Dimitri tells a terribly lovestruck Vlad this: "Ix-nay on the Ophie-say!"
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Three! Though only two figured prominently in the marketing - the yellow silk Dream Sequence dress and the svelte navy and sparkly Parisian Opera dress.
    • And while Anastasia Barbie had the opera house program, it had no sparkly dress, just the orphan outfit.
      • They did make an Anastasia Barbie with the blue sparkly dress, as well as the Disney Acid Sequence dress, AND a line of dresses that didn't appear the movie at all, but were 'inspired by' it and made to fit the Anastasia doll.
  • Pretty in Mink: A few, like the fur-trimmed coat she wears to the opera, and her grandmother's fur wrap.
  • Quest for Identity
  • Rags to Royalty: Or Royalty to Rags back to Royalty to presumably fairly comfortable but not royalty.
    • Most likely back to Rags, as girls from orphanages and reformed conmen who refuse reward money aren't known to be rolling in it. Unless in addition to writing a hurried goodbye note, they stopped by her grandmother's office to take the reward money, but probably not. Though it is possible Grandma could be sending them something to live on. The ending more or less implies that Anya and Grandma will remain close.
  • Rasputinian Death: Well, they got this part right.
    • Not really. He falls through some ice and Anastasia smashes his phylactery. That's missing several important steps—and adding one puzzling one due to the Historical Villain Upgrade, of course.
      • Though he was made pretty much unkillable due to his Deal with the Devil, so that could explain things...
  • Red Headed Heroine: Anya/Anastasia.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation
  • Road Trip Romance
  • The Roaring Twenties
  • Rule of Symbolism: By Word of God, the reason for the seeming Non Sequitur Scene, "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart", is not merely to show off Bernadette Peters, nor 1920's Paris, but a reflection of both cultural progress at the time and Anastasia's Character Development. On the one hand, Russia was dying while the rest of Europe was explosively alive, with much of this renaissance based in Paris; on the other hand, this ties into Anya leaving a dead world for one vibrant and alive, paralleling her leaving behind an empty, soulless existence for one where she could bloom, grow, and begin a new, happy life.
  • Runaway Train: Complete with a graphically-explosive crash to top it all off, and Dimitri commenting afterward "I HATE trains, remind me to never get on a train again."
  • Scenery Porn: The usage of CinemaScope really shows off some great views of St. Petersburg, Paris, and the interiors of palaces.
  • Science Marches On: The whole plot of this movie was based on the urban legend that the real Grand Duchess Anastasia somehow escaped the massacre of the Romanov family and survived. This was fueled by the fact that the remains of the Czar and his wife and children were not found for a very long time - until 1991, when all but two of their bodies were discovered, namely Anastasia and her younger brother. Also helped by the imposter known as Anna Anderson who did convince several relatives of the Romanov family that she was the real deal. In the 90's Anderson's DNA was tested and discovered to be of no relation to the Romanov family. Also, in 2007, more than a decade after this movie was made, the bodies of the younger brother and the last of his sisters (assumed to be Anastasia) was found, which at last proved without any doubt that all of the urban legends and reports of survival were false and that Anastasia was killed with the rest of her family in 1918.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Yes, Dimitri, that is the "skinny little brat" you're ogling at the ballet. Now close your mouth, honey, you're gonna catch flies.
  • Shipper on Deck: Vlad catches on pretty quickly that Anya and Dimitri have a Slap Slap Kiss thing going. He also gets the two to dance and sings a song about this... on the ship to Paris. It's also fun watching his face in the background as the two interact.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Bartok leaves his master just before the final confrontation.
  • Shopping Montage: When Anya and co. get to Paris, Dowager Empress Marie's cousin Sophie takes them shopping while "Paris Holds The Key (To Your Heart)" is sung. They also go sightseeing during the song.
  • Shown Their Work: Despite the historical liberties taken (some for the sake of the medium and length, some to spare children the grisly truth about the Russian Revolution, and some for simple poetic license) and myths bought into (aside from the urban legend about Anastasia herself, nods are given to Rasputin's alleged exaggerated death), a great deal of work was done to otherwise display geographical and biographical accuracy. Photography, including aerial shots, enabled startlingly true-to-life likenesses of St. Petersburg and Paris and the inside of the Winter Palace; period costumes and trains were duplicated, as well as historical figures living in Paris at the time; and actual relics of the Romanovs were scanned into the computers and inserted within the movie, including photographs of the family shown on Marie's wall and the drawing Anastasia made when she was eight years old, which was drawn by the real Anastasia. All of the bathing suits worn by Anastasia, her father, and her sisters during the dream sequence, and the sailor suit worn by her little brother, are also reproductions of the actual suits worn on their frequent family vacations. Even the notion of Rasputin cursing the Romanovs is based off of an anecdotal account that, on one of the few occasions Nicholas and other nobles became worried about the influence he had over Alexandra and foreign policy, Rasputin threatened the family with a pox if he were dismissed from court.
  • Show Within a Show: Anya, Dimitri, and Vlad are treated to the Parisian ballet by Marie's assistant (and Vlad's "cream puff"), and the ballet in question is Cinderella - what do you mean, there's no parallelism?
  • Sickly Green Glow: Rasputin's reliquary oozes with this.
  • Slap Slap Kiss: Quintessential example, starting as soon as they get on a train together. Vlad knows exactly what's really going on, even when they don't.

(Anastasia has left the train cabin after an argument with Dmitri.)
Vlad: (gleefully to Pooka, Anastasia's dog) Oh no! An unspoken attraction?
Dmitri: ATTRACTION?? To that skinny little brat? Have you lost your mind?

    • Literally at the end, where Anya accidentally smacks him in the face, and then cradles his face in her hands for an Almost Kiss.
  • Soul Jar: Rasputin's reliquary.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Sadly, the main character Anastasia, because the real one most likely died along with her family, this being an adaptation of Real Life.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Inverted. When Dmitri grabs her arm she takes one look at his hand, and then raises her other hand and slaps him.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: The aforementioned "Paris Holds The Key" song. It is essentially there to say they had a Benadette Peters number in the film.
  • That Russian Squat Dance
  • Took a Level in Badass: For more information, see And This Is For.
  • Tsundere: Anastasia, to Dimitri.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Anya/Anastasia, counting the clothing she wears as a child, has 13 different outfits during the course of the movie. Blue court dress, nightgown, overcoat, peasant outfit, yellow Disney Acid Sequence ballgown, blue short-sleeved dress, pajamas, sailor bathing suit thing, 2 flapper dresses during a musical number, blue evening dress, pink pajamas, court dress (make it 14 if you count the Clothing Damage incurred on the last court dress as a costume change). To compare, Ariel in The Little Mermaid had 7 (her purple Seashell Bra, a ship's sail wrapped around her, a pink dinner dress, a pink nightgown, a turquoise dress, a blue sparkly dress and a wedding dress).
    • Although two of the above are completely hallucinatory.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: And how.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: To levels rivaling the recent Pocahontas. The real Anastasia was just shot alongside her family in July 1918 at the age of 17. After this movie was made, the actual Romanovs were dug up and DNA typed. All the Romanov children were in the graves, including Anastasia. The Other Wiki has the details. Also, Rasputin was an ally of the Romanovs, and was murdered before them.
    • Two of the children were discovered in a grave near Ekaterinburg, apart from the original discovery site in early 2008: Alexei and one of his other sisters, either Marie or Anastasia.
    • Also, Rasputin was (probably) neither a lich nor powered by demons. And bats can't talk.
    • A very, very small one: In the Rasputin-created dream sequence where Anya sees her family swimming, her father greets her by calling her "Sunshine." In the actual Romanov family, this was the nickname of Anastasia's little brother.
    • Taken Up to Eleven when you consider that the plot is essentially the same as the 1956 movie with Ingrid Bergmann and Yul Brenner.
      • We should mention "Anna Anderson", the real life inspiration for the Bergman/Brynner film who went to her grave pretending to be Anastasia and managed to convince a surprising number of credulous supporters despite ample evidence to the contrary. Her claim was disproven via DNA evidence after her death.
    • There were a lot of White Russian expatriates eating their heart out in cities all over the world including Paris.
  • Villain Song: "In The Dark of The Night".
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Anya & Dimitri, even though they just think she's impersonating a princess at first.
  • What Could Have Been: The original draft was intended more as a political thriller and less a mythic one. Pandora Radio has some songs that were left out of the movie, as well as much more politicized, Rumor in Saint Petersburg.
  1. (though all it has in common with the first movie is...Bartok. And that it's set in an even less historically accurate version of Russia.)