Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Anastasia (1997) by Starry Traveler’s Road

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Next up is not only a blogger but also a childhood friend of mine, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road with her review of Anastasia! This movie is one of my faves also. However, if you haven’t been to her blog, she posts pretty casually but she has posts on being a mom of a newborn, otome reviews and recently, some movie reviews called Movies with BunBun segment. For those who don’t know, we’re also starting up a new collab segment that will be here soon. We’re wrapping up some preparation work and it’ll be a food segment. Remember to head over and check out her blog after you’re done here.

Take it away, Phoebe!

Anastasia

Movies with Bun Bun: Anastasia (1997)

Hello everyone! Big thank yous to Tranquil Dreams and Drew for hosting the Ultimate 90s Blogathon! The Ultimate 80s Blogathon was so much fun that I decided to give movie reviews another try!

Looking back, I never quite understood why I have always had a keen interest in studying royal history since I was young. Unlike some people, I never dreamt to be a princess though it is a fact that I have always wanted to be a historian. The Russian royal family was one of the three families that I studied as a hobby. While powerful rulers like Catherine the Great fascinated me, the whole mystery surrounding Tsar Nicolas II’s family during the Russian Revolution mystified me, especially when the news revealed two bodies were missing in an excavation all the way back in 1991. (For those who do not know, the whole family and their servants’ bodies are all accounted for in 2009.)

First thing that came to my mind was: who is this mysterious Grand Duchess Anastasia? The more that I read about her, the more I found that she was quite interesting. When this animated movie came out, I wondered how Anastasia would be portrayed and how her ‘story’ would unfold if she managed to escape from captivity. Anyway, enough rambling and on with the review.

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death. – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118617/

There was a lot of things that I loved about this movie as I felt back then that Disney’s animation started to go downhill since Beauty and the Beast. I was particularly fond of Anastasia’s graphics and storyline. The characters are very well drawn and developed though I always wished Pooka the dog would appear more often. The dialogues and bantering between characters, especially Anastasia and Dimitri, were very entertaining. As a historian who understands this is a fictional movie, I cannot say that I imagined that Anastasia would end up in Paris, the City of Love, out of all the places in the world to reunite with her grandmother; but hey, there must be some mushy romance thrown somewhere in the story! The locations are so well illustrated that I really want to see them for myself, especially the Catherine Palace! Music was amazing to the point that I owned the soundtrack and often played Once Upon a December, Journey to the Past, Learn to Do It and At the Beginning on repeat. (At the Beginning was chosen as one of the songs played at my wedding.)

Fast forward a few years and boom! My daughter, bun bun, appeared. I am still trying to figure out bun bun’s opinion on this movie as it took us around 5 times before we managed to finish the movie. Unlike An American Tail from the last Blogathon, she was more interested in running around, pressing buttons on my keyboard, climbing on furniture and testing my patience. The only things that caught her attention was Anastasia’s dog, Pooka, and the faster songs like A Rumor in St. Petersburg. I thought the soothing and haunting melodies like Once Upon a December would appeal to her as I often sang them to her; but no, she danced to Rasputin’s In the Dark of the Night! It is obvious that our taste in music differs and she is ready to party as if she is 18 even though she is only a toddler, but we have one thing in common: we both love Pooka!

Anyway, I asked myself what I should do when I reintroduce this movie to an older bun bun. Should I let her see this movie only as an animated movie or should I try to explain the real person/history behind the fictional movie? What do you think?

Thanks to Phoebe for a wonderful write-up on Anastasia! 
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews tomorrow for the next review in the blogathon!

Anastasia (1997)

Time to revisit childhood favorites! I’m not going to lie. It might be a little deliberate to have chosen Anastasia since Netflix is doing “A” titles. Consider it a double feature in a way, especially since Anastasia is currently on Netflix (in Canada). Its also a good choice because I need to watch good movies also and not always average movies. It keeps the moral high and motivation even higher. So I’m going to try from now on. When the week is a little more quiet, I’ll work in another movie, hopefully with the same letter title as the Netflix that week. Summer is around the corner so I usually rest up in June to prepare for all the movie reviews in Fantasia Festival in mid-July.

Enough rambling! Let’s revisit Anastasia! 🙂

Anastasia (1997)
Anastasia

Director: Don Bluth & Gary Goldman

Voice cast:  Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Christopher Lloyd, Kelsey Grammar, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Angela Lansbury

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death.-IMDB

Don Bluth does have quite the magic. When I watched all these animated films when I was a kid or just younger, I never knew much about who directed and voice casts and all that stuff.  Now that I’ve been in the movie blogger world, I know better. Certain names just seem to be the key behind a lot of movies. I never feel like Anastasia is appreciated or talked about as much as it should be. Fact is, Anastasia is really pretty and what shocked me even more is that its not from the powerhouses now. This is a Fox Animation Studios film. If you even look at the voice cast, there is quite a bit of amazing talent here. It even turns out that I’m doing a back to back John Cusack movie, unexpectedly. Much of Anastasia has to go to the beautiful animation and the fantastic music. I may have not seen this movie in forever, probably more than ten years, but I always hum Once Upon a December in sporadic moments. Of course, the whole soundtrack is quite memorable.

I probably should have reviewed Anastasia ages ago because I’ve always wanted to look at ALL of Meg Ryan’s movies and that project and even thought of it has faded away but I do still love Meg Ryan and her movies quite a bit. She voices Anastasia and she is so great in bringing to life our main character here. Anastasia is feisty and tough if not slightly naive also but she yearns to find her family but who knew that things would work out unexpectedly. She not only finds her family but also meets an unexpected guy who is flawed but also has his own secret.

Voicing Dimitri, the guy that Anastasia meets, is John Cusack. I’m going to be honest that I never acknowledged that he voiced this character.  While I have a lot of appreciation for his acting, I still have a lot to learn about the movies he has been in. But, I do like his voice as Dimitri. It carries a cunning but still very sweet character.  However, I do love Kelsey Grammar as Vlad quite a bit also. Vlad is such a charming and funny character, especially his obsession with Pooka. The cutest element of the entire film is Pooka. I guess dogs whether in real life or animated still are just uber adorable regardless.

Anastasia

 In any animated film, there’s always some villain and here we have Rasputin, voiced by Christopher Lloyd. While he is evil, he holds a comical value that is suitable for kids to watch. I’m not sure how young it would be suitable for but Rasputin is generically evil but still manages to make me laugh. Plus, he is literally falling apart and with the interaction he has with Bartok, his somewhat faithful bat, voiced by Hank Azaria, it becomes not scary but simply entertaining. Rasputin’s mishaps is what I looked forward to the whole time.  While, Bartok was really just a background character that made witty reactions as the comic relief. Hank Azaria does have a great talent in voices and here he demonstrates it yet again.

Anastasia

Overall, Anastasia may almost be 20 years old but it still holds the charm with enchanting music and charming characters voiced by a wonderful cast. Meg Ryan and John Cusack does a fine job as the leads but Christopher Lloyd makes a comical villain and Hank Azaria does a great silly sidekick. It helps that they added in an uber cute dog Pooka to follow them on their journey. A must-watch animated film! I still love it every bit as much as when I first saw it! 🙂

Before we leave, its important to add in a song (or two) from the movie!

Have you seen Anastasia?