Aug 13, 2010

Anastasia (1997) - a mystery once upon a December

directed by Don Bluth, Gary Goldman / voices by Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria

So, I'm back from France and it was awesome and there will be a post about it any day now. I'm still mentally in Paris, so I chose to see Anastasia first time in many many years, because it's partly set in Paris and also because I only feel like watching animations - I think Disneyland made me grow back down quite efficiently - and Anastasia was always my favourite non-Disney animation.

Anya is a young woman, who's just left the orphanage near St. Petersburg where she'd been living as long as she can remember - there aren't that many things she can remember from her past - and is now determined to go to Paris to find her family. Dimitri is a con man, wandering aroung Russia with his companion Vladimir to find a girl who he could train to be Anastasia - the daughter of the last tzar is Russia, rumored to be still alive after the revolution and killings of the rest of the royal family - and bring her to Paris to her grandmother to receive a considerable reward. Rasputin was once banished by the tzar, and to revenge he put a curse upon the Romanov family in a trade to his living soul, and he can't rest before every member of the family is dead. These stories come together and everything is set for a magical, chilling, heartwarming journey through Europe.

I remember thinking as a kid how well structured the film is - meaning the pace, the balance between the action sequences, musical numbers and so on. Can't say I was wrong! There are no boring bits in the movie and in every scene there's something to look forward to.

I love Anya for her superb attitude and wit, and the development of her and Dimitri's relationship is just delicious to follow. A huge number of romcoms and other films have done the same boy-meets-girl-boy-and-girl-hate-each-other-until-they fall-in-love pattern before and after, but I love how it works in Anastasia. And how Vlad knows all the time how it'll end. And how he marks down the 'points' of who wins each argument.

Rasputin's sidekick Bartok the bat is a funny little thing. He's not your typical baddie sidekick, because he's actually very benevolent, and just a little simple, that's all. I love how he shows Rasputin the newest dance moves. "And then you go like really crazy with the hips!"

The songs are awesome and catchy. Though my favourite has to be Once upon a December (here's the Finnish version, Kerran joulukuun aikaan) - you can't deny the goosebumbs - I also like Anya's first song Journey to the past and the 'training montage' song Learn to do it.

The animation is top-class, just amazing. Just think about the glowing ghost dancers during Once upon a December, or Anya's flowery nightmare, or the painting-like Paris, or the horse statue come to life. It's so cool.

Anastasia is not historically accurate, borrowing only certain characters (the royal family and Rasputin) and major events (like the revolution and the Anastasia imposters) from real life. Yet once again I found myself hoping I had studied more history when I had the chance. So many fascinating things have happened!

In summary, Anastasia is a wonderful, engaging adventure. Recently I've been re-watching a lot of childhood favourites, and will continue doing so. There's something very melancholic yet heartwarming in remembering what it was like to see these films as a kid, and to see them again now through different eyes and notice that you still know all the lyrics and remember the little details. I'm planning a proper Disney marathon with my sister, which no doubt will be awesome.

"I feel a little... dizzy."
"Kind of... light-headed?"

"Me too. Probably from all the spinning.
Maybe we should stop."
"We HAVE stopped."


Anonymous said...

Ah, Anastasia on ihana! Osasin sen melkein ulkoa, tuli muutama kerta katsottua se.
Mutta siis! C'est fantastique että tu est revenue de Paris! (hmmn. ei oikein ole tuo ranska pysynyt mielessä enää ei xD)

Eeva said...

Niin on! Ja on hauskaa kun edelleen huomaa osaavansa lauluja ja repliikkejä ulkoa.

Ja ihan hyvinhän tuo ranska näyttää sujuvan. :D Näyttää ihan oikeelta mun silmään (mikä nyt ei tietenkään sano yhtikäs mitään), en ees ensin huomannut että siellä oli joku ei-ranskalainen sanakin välissä. ;D