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Anastasia is an American animated feature produced by 20th Century Fox. This film was produced and directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman at Fox Animation Studios, and was released on November 14, 1997 by 20th Century Fox.

The idea for the film originates from Fox's live-action film version of the same name. The plot is based around the urban legend that Anastasia, youngest daughter of the last monarch of imperial Russia, in fact survived the execution of her family, and thus takes various liberties with historical fact. Executives at Fox gave Bluth and Goldman the choice of creating an animated adaptation of either the 1956 film or the musical My Fair Lady.

Plot

On the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule, Czar Nicholas II hosts a grand ball at the royal palace. During this celebration, his mother, Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (Angela Lansbury), gives her favorite granddaughter, 8-year-old Anastasia (Kirsten Dunst), a music box and a necklace reading "Together in Paris", which serves as its key. The ball is interrupted by the arrival of the megalomanic Rasputin, (Christopher Lloyd), a staretz who sold his soul to gain the power of sorcery. Rasputin plans to gain his revenge through a curse to destroy the Romanov family that sparks the Russian Revolution. During the storming of the palace, a servant boy helps Anastasia and Marie to escape. Rasputin attempts to kill Anastasia himself, but falls through the ice in the river and drowns. While Anastasia is escaping, she drops her music box in the panic. Anastasia and Marie eventually reach a moving train, but only Marie is able to get on as Anastasia trips and hits her head on the station platform, forcing Marie to leave her behind.

Ten years since the night of The Romanov Family Murder, Russia is now under Communist rulemarker; Marie, now residing in Parismarker, has offered a monetary reward for anyone who can return Anastasia to her. Two Russian con men living in Saint Petersburgmarker, Dimitri (John Cusack) and Vladimir (Kelsey Grammer), decide to find a young girl to pass off as Anastasia. Elsewhere, an amnesiac 18-year-old orphan girl named Anya (Meg Ryan) who owns the same necklace as Anastasia, has just left her orphanage and has decided to learn about her past, because she has no recollection of the first eight years of her life. Accompanied by Pooka, a stray puppy, she heads to Saint Petersburg, and soon encounters Dimitri and Vladimir, who recruit her as their "fake" Anastasia. During the trip to Paris, the two men teach Anya how to behave like Anastasia and Anya and Dimitri realize a mutual attraction. In Dimitri's baggage is Anastasia's music box. Anya recalls some small facts that she remembers from her past, though nobody realizes it.

Meanwhile, Rasputin is revealed to still be alive, but trapped in limbo as a living corpse: unable to die because Anastasia had not been killed. Bartok, his cowardly bat servant, unwittingly brings him his magical reliquary, thus restoring his old powers. Rasputin summons a legion of demons to kill Anya and complete his revenge, resulting in two failed attempts. This includes a narrow escape from a separated train that Anya, Vladmir, and Dimitri jump off to avoid falling to their deaths, and a nightmare aboard a ship en route to Paris from Germany that Anya sleepwalks through until Dimitri rescues her, alerted by Pooka. These failures make him realize he must kill her in person.

The trio eventually arrive in Paris and meet Sophie (Bernadette Peters), Marie's lady-in-waiting and first cousin, who is in charge of interviewing the Anastasia lookalikes. However, Marie, tired of heartbreak, has declared not to hold anymore interviews. Despite this, Sophie sees Anya as a favor to Vladimir; Anya plays her part well, but when Sophie asks how she escaped the palace, Anya dimly recalls a servant boy opening a secret door, surprising both Dimitri and Vladimir when this was one fact they failed to teach her. Dimitri later reveals to Vladimir that he was the servant boy in her memory, meaning that Anya is the real Anastasia and has found her home and family; nonetheless, he is saddened by this truth, because, although he loves her, he says that "princesses don't marry kitchen boys."

Sophie then arranges for Anya to encounter Marie at the Russian ballet. After the event, Dimitri attempts to introduce Anya, but the empress refuses to listen to him, having heard of Dimitri and his initial plans to con her. Anya eavesdrops on their argument and thus learns that she is a part of a con. Angered, she begins to leave and is confronted by Dimitri, who begs her to believe that his intentions have changed. She does not accept this, and leaves, intending to get out of their plot. Dimitri, determined to right the situation and reunite the two women, kidnaps Marie in her car and furiously drives back to the mansion where Anya is packing her things. Then he convinces the empress to meet with Anya by presenting her the lost music box. Upon meeting Anya at first, Marie remains guarded until the girl suddenly begins to remember personal childhood moments. As they sing the lullaby the music box plays, Marie finally realizes the truth, and the two reunite at long last.

Marie rewards Dimitri the money, plus her gratitude. Although Dimitri accepts her gratitude, he refuses the reward money revealing that he cared more about Anastasia than the reward and leaves. Marie eventually tells Anastasia of Dimitri's actions at the ball, making her realize her error. When Pooka suddenly bounds for the garden maze, Anastasia runs after him and is trapped. Rasputin finally reveals himself to her and tries to kill her on the Alexander Bridge over an icy Seinemarker River. Dimitri returns to save her, but is injured and knocked unconscious. Anastasia manages to destroy Rasputin's reliquary by crushing it under her foot, causing him to disintegrate into dust, his soul awaiting eternal damnation with his hunger for revenge unfulfilled. She rushes to Dimitri's body and believes him to be dead, but in a matter of minutes he wakes up and she slaps him on accident. Dimitri and Anastasia reconcile, sending a farewell letter to Marie and Sophie, telling them that they've eloped. The film ends with Anastasia and Dimitri sailing away on a boat with Pooka, before sharing a passionate kiss. Bartok, looking down at the spectacle, suddenly encounters a female bat and shares a kiss with her as well.

Cast

  • Meg Ryan (Liz Callaway [singing]) - Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia / Anya: the main protagonist of the film. Anastasia escapes the siege with her grandmother in the prologue of the film, but ends up unconscious on a railroad track. Ten years later, she tries to remember her past and find her grandmother in Paris with the help of Dimitri and Vlad.
  • John Cusack (Jonathan Dokuchitz [singing]) - Dimitri: a con man in St. Petersburg. Dimitri tries to find an Anastasia look-alike to impress the Dowager Empress and get the ten million rubles. However, when he finds Anya, he comes to have feelings for her and ultimately gives up the money out of his love for her.
  • Kelsey Grammer - Vladimirmarker: Dimitri's business partner, friend, and father figure; formerly a high-ranking courtier to Anastasia's father.
  • Christopher Lloyd (Jim Cummings [singing]) - Rasputin: the main antagonist of the film. Rasputin was once the most mystical man in Russia, but when the Tsar banished him, he swore revenge on the Romanovs and even sold his soul (literally) to destroy the entire family. When he discovers that Anastasia is still alive, he makes several attempts to destroy her via his minions, and eventually rises himself from the dead in order to finish the job. He is defeated when Anya destroys his reliquary and he is destroyed and his spirt lost. Rasputin has a comical side to him that is displayed throughout the film, even in the climax like Jafar in Aladdin .
  • Hank Azaria - Bartok: Rasputin's timid and neurotic, but good-hearted bat sidekick. He was so popular that he got his own movie.
  • Bernadette Peters - Sophie: Marie's first cousin whom Vladimir seems to be enamored with.
  • Kirsten Dunst (Lacey Chabert [singing]) - Young Anastasia
  • Angela Lansbury - Dowager Empress Marie Fyodorovna: Anastasia's grandmother who does not approve of Dimitri's schemes, but when Anya shows up, she realizes that Anya is in fact Anastasia, and supports her decision to elope with Dimitri.


Production

Music

The musical score for the film was composed by David Newman, and the songs were written by Newman, Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty. The film's soundtrack was released in CD and audio cassette format on October 28, 1997.

Release

The film opened in New York Citymarker on November 14, 1997, the same date as the reissue of Disney's The Little Mermaid. The film debuted and peaked at #2 at the North American box office and grossed over US $58,406,000. The worldwide gross totaled $139,804,348, making it Don Bluth's highest grossing film to date.

Anastasia was Don Bluth's first at-all successful film since All Dogs Go to Heaven and last after Titan A.E. failed. It was also the first major hit for Fox with their three previously-released animated features, FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Once Upon a Forest, and The Pagemaster, ranging from modest success to failure.

Reception

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars describing it as "...entertaining and sometimes exciting". The movie also currently stands with a 85% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Carol Buckland of CNN Interactive praised John Cusack for bringing "an interesting edge to Dimitri, making him more appealing than the usual animated hero" and stated that Angela Lansbury gave the film "vocal class", but described the film as "OK entertainment" and that "it never reaches a level of emotional magic." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that the film "has the Disney house style down cold", but that the film feels "a touch depersonalized".

Box office

The film opened with $120,541 to November 16, 1997. The next week, November 23, 1997, Anastasia had received $14,242,807. In the US alone, the film had scraped $58,406,347 and $139,804,348 worldwide.

Awards

Anastasia was nominated for two Academy Awards in the categories of "Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score" and "Best Music, Original Song" for "Journey to the Past". At the awards ceremony, "Journey to the Past" was performed by R&B singer Aaliyah, who recorded the pop single version of the song. This song was recorded into Spanish for the Spanish version of the film by ThalĂ­a, and it went on to be a hit across Central and South America. Another song which gained recognition is the ballad "Once Upon a December"; its pop single version was recorded and produced by Deana Carter. The song that plays with the credits at the end of the film is "At the Beginning" sung by Richard Marx and Donna Lewis.

Spin-offs

Due to Anastasia s success, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment created a direct-to-video spin-off called Bartok the Magnificent ( ), featuring Rasputin's albino bat crony. It also featured Kelsey Grammer, who voiced Vladimir in Anastasia, as Zozi the Bear.

Video game

A video game based on the film, titled Anastasia: Adventures with Pooka and Bartok, was released by Fox Interactive in 1997.

References



External links




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