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ANASTASIA

SYNOPSIS:
It’s 1916 in Russia and Grand Duchess Marie (voice of Angela Lansbury) is planning a trip to Paris. She gives her eight-year-old granddaughter, Anastasia, a musical box with which to remember her. Before she leaves, however, Rasputin (voice of Christopher Lloyd), an evil sorcerer, casts a spell over the family and the Russian revolution quickly follows. Consequently, all the Royal family perish except for Marie and Anastasia. Dimitri, a young servant boy, saves them both, but during the escape, are separated. Ten years later, Anya (voice of Meg Ryan), who doesn't remember her past, sets off to find her true identity and family. She runs into Dimitri (voice of John Cuzack), who together with his trusted friend Vlad (voice of Kelsey Grammar) hope to find a young woman who can pass for the long lost Anastasia and claim a handsome reward. Thus, they set off for Paris, hoping to meet with the Empress Marie and collect their reward. Rasputin, living a life of solitude in purgatory, hears from his old confidant, Bartok (voice of Hank Azaria), a goofy albino bat, that Anastasia is alive, and sets off to finish his plan. Meanwhile, Dimitri and Anya's initial antagonism toward each other turns to attraction as they reach Paris.

"A stunning achievement in animation, Anastasia dazzles with an engaging tale succinctly scripted which incorporates song as part of the narrative. Cleverly told on two levels - there is much to captivate younger audiences on a simplistic scale, while teens and adults can be drawn into the world set against a background of Imperial Russia, with much to keep them entranced. Although the tale is complex, the script is remarkably uncluttered, with the song lyrics adding integral plot elements. Good and evil are clearly defined while the basic essence of the story emphasises the importance of home, love and family. With exquisite sets and production design of bewitching and complex detail, we are privy to a great sense of realism rarely shown in animation featuring layers of rich colours and textures. We embark on a journey of discovery and anticipation beginning in lavish, regal ballrooms, through snowy landscapes, sun-drenched forests and bumpy seas, eventuating in the city of romance itself, Paris. And for lovers of the French capital, there’s plenty to be nostalgic about, as we visit Montmartre, Moulin Rouge, Folies Bergères, take a ride up the Eiffel Tower and even glimpse the view from the top of the Arc de Triomphe with the twinkling lights below. We stroll into Chanel, visit the ballet and cruise down the Seine in the bateaux-mouches. The characters are engaging, the voices delightful, the sequences splendidly imaginative. A successful blend of larger-than-life and suggested realism, we have an evil villain who keeps losing body parts. The buxom, irrepressible Sophie and roguish Vladimir are scene stealers, while there’s lot of appeal in Meg Ryan’s and John Cusak’s hero and heroine. I am constantly amazed at the skill in matching singing voices to that of the stars - Liz Callaway sounds just how Meg Ryan would sound if she sang like an angel! Angela Lansbury is the only star who actually sings with her own voice, and she is wonderful as the Dowager Empress Marie. A rare treat not to be missed."
Louise Keller

"Disney has long been the ruler of big-budget animation, but now it seems everyone else is trying to catch up. Anastasia, from veteran Don Bluth, is the first to make the attempt, and despite some notable flaws, it's a stronger-than-usual attempt at the genre. The mystique of Anastasia, the youngest daughter of Russia's doomed Czar Nicholas II, has been the subject of plays, TV series and a marvellous fifties movie with Ingrid Bergman in the title role. Though this animated tale purports to be based on the French play and subsequent film, it is a fairy tale about a princess, a dreamer and a dark villain, a kind of formulaic piece that has all the elements of classic children's fare. The problem is, the writers decided to take a historical character, Rasputin, and turn him into this ridiculous demon. Instead of the deaths of the Romanovs being blamed on the two Russian revolutions of 1917, Rasputin places a curse on the family. One doesn't expect a kid's animated film to be historically accurate by any means, but these kinds of liberties offer a dangerous lesson for children. The film is blatantly anti Communist as well, which is a silly notion. Where the film works beautifully is in the relationship between Anya, spunkily voiced by Meg Ryan, and Dimitri, and Anya's transformation into the glamorous Princess. On a technical level, Anastasia is a dazzling achievement, and a glorious visual feast; all that was needed to give it classic stature, was a script that made sense, rather than one that trivialises history."
Paul Fischer

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

ANASTASIA(G)
(US)

VOICES: Meg Ryan, Kelsey Grammar, Angela Lansbury, John Cusack, Hank Azaria, Christopher Lloyd

DIRECTOR: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman

PRODUCER: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman

SCRIPT: Susan Gauthier, Bruce Graham, Bob Tzudiker, Noni White (based on play by Marcelle Maurette, as adapted by Guy Bolton, and screenplay by Arthur Laurents)

DIRECTING ANIMATORS; Len Simon, John Hill,, Troy Saliba, Fernando Moro, Sandro Cleuzo, Paul Newberry

EDITOR: Fiona Trayler

MUSIC: David Newman (Songs - lyrics Lynn Ahrens; music Stephen Flaherty)

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 25, 1998

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Home Entertainment

AUST VIDEO RELEASE:Oct 21, 1998

SELL-THRU: May 10, 2000







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