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ANASTASIA
Review by Sarah Gilliam (12/97)

Release: 1997, 20th Century Fox
Starring: (voice talents) Meg Ryan, John Cusack, Kelsey Grammer, Christopher Lloyd, Hank Azaria, Bernadette Peters, Kirsten Dunst, Angela Lansbury, Liz Callaway, Lacey Chabert, Jim Cummings, Jonathan Dokuchitz
Director: Don Bluth, Gary Goldman
Music by: Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty, David Newman
MPAA Rating: [G]
Genre: Family/Animated Musical

SUMMARY

Anya is a young orphan who embarks on a journey to find her true identity. Two men find her in Paris, and believing she is Anastasia, the daughter of the last Russian czar, try to collect a reward the house of Romanov is offering for their missing heiress. Meanwhile, the evil magician Rasputin is determined to destroy the Romanovs.

WHAT'S GOOD

This movie is simply beautiful in story and style. Anya's quest to find herself in the wide world is romanticism at its finest. A touching side plot about love, characters with real conflicts and problems, and an impressive array of musical performances from the singing cast put it on par with Disney's Beauty and the Beast. From an artistic standpoint, the animation is first rate. Don Bluth (All Dogs Go To Heaven, The Secret of NIMH, The Pebble and the Penguin, laser disc video games "Dragon's Lair" and "Space Ace") has always produced a distinct style of animation, and combined with subtle technology and meticulate craftsmanship, it really excels here.

This movie may mark a significant turn for Bluth animated features much in the same way that The Little Mermaid did for Disney, elevating it beyond toonish animal stories and creating drama that can be enjoyed by all ages. Anastasia is the convergence of story, music, artistry, and technical innovation. Excellent voice over performances by the entire cast, especially Christopher Lloyd and Kelsey Grammer for imbuing Rasputin and Vladimir, respectively, with distinct styles. Praises, also, to the four young women who brought Anastasia to life: Meg Ryan (adult Anya speaking voice), Liz Callaway (adult Anya singing voice), Kirsten Dunst (young Anya speaking voice), and Lacey Chabert (young Anya singing voice).

Fact: A 1956 live action version of Anastasia, starring Ingrid Bergman in the title role, was also released by 20th Century Fox. Over the years, the story has been adapted in various formats, including plays and television.


WHAT'S BAD

Some of the songs--an integral part of the film--might do well to be a little more children-friendly.

Rating: 9 out of 10 (0=Abysmal, 5=Average, 10=Excellent)






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