I’m on an animated nostalgia kick right now. I’m writing a paper about Disney animation in the 90s and have been doing a lot of focus on the visual design and what not. Formalism and film theory.
I’ve always loved this movie and watching it now I remember why. Actually I’d go so far to say that it might just be in my top 3 of animated films. I’d have to take some time to think about it. Defiantly in my top 10 though.
To me this is a Disney Renaissance film. Having spent hours watching those films, analyzing them, and writing about them Anastasia works quite well to that “mold.” Surprisingly enough it isn’t a Disney movie. It was made by 20th Century Fox under the mater hand of Don Bluth. It’s obviously that it isn’t Disney from a few bits, but if you took them out it would work quite well.
I feel like the music was on par with many of Disney’s Renaissance films. They had that kind of feel and were memorable enough and moving that I’m still listening to “Once Upon a December” right now. Rasputin’s “In the Dark of the Night” is quite good as well, especially when you think back to Scar and “Be Prepared.” They had the musical appeal to it and I could actually see this translated into a musical quite well.
The animation was brilliant as well and I LOVED the CG technology used. It worked amazingly well. Again something that was on par with Disney during those years, though I have to say having seen Titan A.E., Bluth seems really good at it. The animation is also where you can tell the differences. It’s quite dark, which is Bluth. If you know his style you can tell it and you can defiantly point it out from Disney, but the quality is amazing. I can understand why people would mistake it for Disney. The characters are the biggest giveaway. Dimitri looks like the guy from Titan A.E. and they both look like Prince Cornelius from Thumbelina. The characters are much more angular and have very sharp features. They aren’t as round and smooth as Disney, especially with the good guys. Disney villains tend to be angular though.
The story is extremely engaging. Yes it’s not historically accurate, but I’m down with that. I actually remember this movie inspiring me to get into Russian history. I even did a report at one point on Rasputin. The movie wasn’t based in fact, but it got my interest enough to go search it out and find the facts. Aladdin did the same thing with looking for the original story. Actually a number of Disney films and just films in generally work that way for me. If it’s interesting I’ll look into it on my own. The story here though, facts aside, is deep and emotional. It has depth and it pulled me in.
The characters are brilliant. Dimitri and Anastasia are quite complicated and Dimitri isn’t exactly the greatest chap throughout a portion of the movie. Rasputin was a bit disappointing. I liked him as a kid, but now I just see it as a total miss for something epic. Bluth is great at the dark scary shit, and Rasputin seemed like a cop out. The Secret of NIMH was scary as shit when I was a kid and Rasputin could have far beyond that, but instead he was a Disney-esque twat of villain. A cartoon. It’s one of those things I’ve loved about Bluth, that he wasn’t afraid of putting some dark shit in the movies. Bartok is amazing as well for what he is, especially with Hank Azaria. You can’t go wrong with voice acting with that man. I have to go back and say that Christopher Lloyd was good as Rasputin and the same for Kelsey Grammer and John Cusack. I thought they were all good. I’m torn with Meg Ryan. I liked her, but maybe I’m thinking about it to much. I feel like having the image of her in my head ruined the voice a bit for me, especially since I thought the animation of her character was brilliant. Ryan’s voice seemed a bit to spunky maybe. Again I just might be associating to much with previous experiences with the actress.
It’s defiantly a movie you need to watch for the first time or again. I don’t want to wait forever to watch this again.
I also watched Thumbelina which was meh. I remember most of what went on in the movie, because I apparently saw it that many times. I guess our sitter/daycare had the movie and the girlies played it a lot. We never owned it.
Honestly I kept think Bluth (made this one as well) was trying to make The Little Mermaid to some extent. Maybe it’s just the number of similarities that caught me to some of those Disney films of the era, though they were not replicated on the level Anastasia was.
“Let Me Be Your Wings” was a good enough song, but the only one. Still not great. The best thing about this movie was hearing Jodi Benson again, she voiced/sang Ariel, and Gilbert Gottfried. And Charo I suppose, mainly the surprise value of recognizing her.
The movie kind of dragged for how short it was to me. I mean it’s not that thrilling waiting for these people to just search and search and repeat the same lines. It’s a kid/family movie, but that just seemed way to dull for me. I got bored of Thumbelina winning and the Prince constantly popping up yelling her name.
The nostalgia didn’t save the movie and I didn’t find anything about the animation all that thrilling either. Compared to some of his other work, it defiantly wasn’t my favorite.