Friday, November 23, 2012

Christmas Special: Anastasia

I know it's only the day after Thanksgiving, but I thought it might be a good time to start my Christmas Special! I'm going to watch what I think are Christmas movies (you may or may not agree...feel free to  let me know either way). I'm hoping to be able to get in a wide variety by Christmastime. Let me know if you have any suggestions!!

I was planning on starting with a more classic example of Christmas movies, but Anastasia is the closest that I owned myself. I'll be getting more stereotypical 'classics' as we go, so don't worry!

Quick Synopsis
*Don't read too much into the factual inaccuracies! It's a cartoon!* :-)
In 1916, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Tsar Nicholas II is throwing a ball to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Romanov rule, but it is interrupted by Grigori Rasputin (once trusted by the family, but since ast out as a traitor) putting a curse on the family. The Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna and her granddaughter Anastasia barely escape and are separated. She spends 10 years in an orphanage and has no memory of her royal past. She joins forces with two Russian con men, Dimitri and Vladimir, who seek the reward for reuniting Anastasia with her grandmother. However, they're chased by evil Rasputin, who swore that all of the Romanov family would die. Just as the group is overcoming all the complications and drama, the final showdown with Rasputin occurs.

My Thoughts

Personally, I love this movie and I have since I was little. It's mostly the music and the snow. It may not be a 'Top 10' Christmas movie, but I love to watch it around Christmas time, so it seemed like a good day after Thanksgiving pick. Not quite Christmas time, but getting a little closer. Also, it may not be completely historically accurate (I mean, there's a zombie dropping body parts throughout the film with a pet, talking bat...). I'm not expecting a lot of accuracy, and you shouldn't be either. There should be a certain suspension of belief when watching a movie, especially ones like these. So stop trying to analyze this movie and sit back and watch the snow swirl and listen to the music and Angela Lansbury.

I know Bartok is supposed to be a bad guy, but he is just so adorable. I've always wanted a little pet Bartok. And Rasputin is the funniest villain I've ever seen...leaving fingers and eyes laying around as he passes while Bartok follows to pick them up and put him back together.

If I asked for a sign and got a cute puppy, I'd be pretty happy. I prefer bigger pups, but he's still young, maybe he'll grow into his ears. :-)

My favorite two songs, 'Journey to the Past' and 'Once Upon a December' are in the very beginning of the movie, and get stuck in my head for weeks every time I watch it. I'll be humming it until New Year's now! And I just love the ghost scene at the ball while she sings 'Once Upon a December.' It's a little weird, but I've always loved it.

When Rasputin sings 'In the Dark of the Night,' it always makes me think of Scar's 'Be Prepared' scene in The Lion King. I've always enjoyed the bad guys' songs in these movies. They're always so creepy and the minions get to be involved, and everyone loves a good minion scene.

Rasputin's temper tantrums after Anastasia and her crew continue to foil his plans are pretty hilarious. And Hank Azaria's voice as Bartok might be my favorite part of the movie. It's a close call between Bartok and the music, but Bartok's voice is hilarious, and I love watching him follow Rasputin around putting the thumbs and lips back on...

I love the scene when they sing 'Paris Holds the Key.' It looks like they're dancing through paintings the whole time, and it's a great visual. It's wonderfully done.

Then there's the 'you only used me for money' drama. But you've gotta have some sort of drama to build the story up. But they, of course, work it out eventually. Just have to fight the demons and the un-dead Rasputin and get past the Grandma. No problem.

Then the corny, romantic ending...Even Bartok gets a girl!! You have to be able to ignore the historical inaccuracies, but I love a lot of the animation and the music is fantastic, in my opinion. Totally worth watching at least once in your lifetime!

Random Facts
When Meg Ryan was offered the role of Anya, she could not decide if she wanted to accept it or not. Upon hearing of Ryan's indecision, Fox took an audio clip of her talking in Sleepless in Seattle and created a short animated sequence of Anya speaking the lines. They sent the clip to Ryan, and she was so impressed that she changed her mind and accepted the role.

The drawing the Empress holds when she and Anya are reminiscing (the same one we see little Anastasia give her at the beginning of the movie) is a picture the real Anastasia had drawn for her father in 1914. Olga really did say that Anastasia's drawing looked like a pig riding a donkey. This was stated by Anasasia in a letter to her father, and the image used in the movie is an actual reproduction of the original picture.

When Anya returns to the palace in St. Petersburg and is in the ballroom you can see the painting of the coronation of Alexandra and Nicholas on the left, which is a real painting.

The music box in this movie actually existed. It was given to the real Anastasia by the real Marie Feoderovna for her thirteenth birthday, but was silver with a ballerina on top.

Just as was suggested in this movie, the real-life Anastasia Romanov loved playing practical jokes. This made her quite notorious among her family and the palace staff.

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