Anastasia (1997)

Anastasia

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Nostalgia all around.

Man, what ever happened to the ‘90s? Back then, we had an incredible variety of animated films that both kids and adults alike could enjoy. Films with iconic music and memorable acting with a story to die for. Heck, as Anastasia proves, it doesn’t even have to be Disney. A lot of people actually think Anastasia is Disney because it has a lot of Disney crew working on it, but nope…not Disney. However, that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most memorable animated kid flicks from the mid ‘90s that is incapable of getting old.

Most people already know the story to this flick, but if you don’t, I shall clue you in. Way back when, this Russian princess by the name of Anastasia went missing, and was suspected to be dead. Meanwhile, her grandmamma went off to Paris. So, because of reward money given to anyone who can return Anastasia to her family, cons left and right began instructing women to act like Anastasia. However, the real Anastasia just left her orphanage and ran into a con man. Unknowingly, she agreed to go to Paris with them…but she was the real deal. Meanwhile, the evil Rasputin has other plans for her from beyond the dead.

There’s a few reason why I love this film, but at the same time there are some things I would have changed. First of all, this is a very different film than what you are used to seeing. This isn’t your typical Disney princess tale, this is a genuine legend of someone trying to get back home and to find out who they really are. It’s dark, edgy, and smart in its writing. It is voiced by a-class actors that somehow bring a level of soul to the flick that others probably couldn’t bring. The songs in the film aren’t only memorable and iconic, but they are chilling and full of emotion. This, in all honesty, was a very original and dark tale while still maintaining that position of hope that any viewer can appreciate.

It wasn’t perfect though, and I think I found out why. Rasputin and Bartok are awesome characters, especially for children, but the movie would have been near perfect without them. They are there simply for children’s amusement and comedic relief, but without them, the story holds up its own. I do understand the need to have an antagonist for a story. It is a children’s film, so you need to have some level of good vs. evil, but this is too much. Rasputin, in real life, was a disgusting and evil man who conned his way into the family (as it said in the beginning of this film), but that’s where it ended. I know the nature of his real self is too much for a family-oriented film and nightmare-inducing, but I would have at least been okay with an alive version of Rasputin. Take away those weird demonic powers and you got yourself a real, physical villain. That would be second best, but overall, the film really didn’t need him.

Also, Rasputin was made to create conflicts for the heroes. I get that too, but I felt copped out on that end. Just because its animated doesn’t mean you have to have a physical bad guy…conflicts can be against yourself and nature as well. Part of this film’s conflict had to do with man vs. self, as Anastasia fought to find her true identity…but the real villain could have been nature. Anastasia’s grandmamma already stated she wouldn’t be seeing anymore fake Anastasia’s, and the gang could run into unforeseen problems due to the weather or whatever. No need for Rasputin. I understand he is a big part of the real story, so it’s kind of cool to see him here, but sometimes he adds to the story, sometimes he doesn’t.

Overall, you’ll remember this film for the amazing animation, heartfelt songs full of emotion, and captivating story that lives on, and that’s all that matters.

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