A sumptuous (if completely inaccurate) animated retelling of the mystery of the Tsar’s lost daughter, this movie will captivate kids and their families.
In this version, the little Anastasia and her adored grandmother (voice of Angela Lansbury) are separated after escaping the execution of the royal family. Years later, “Anna” (voice of Meg Ryan), who remembers nothing of her early years, leaves the orphanage where she has been raised, and goes off in search of her family. She is discovered by a couple of con men who have been searching for a young woman they can pass off as Anastasia, to get a reward from the dowager grandmother, who now lives in Paris. They persuade her that they are just trying to help her find out whether she is in fact the missing Anastasia, never suspecting that she really is.
Trying to stop her is the evil spectre Rasputin, who becomes so angry that pieces of his face and body fall off and have to be reapplied.
The animators learned their craft at Disney, and it shows. Other than the mostly forgettable score, the production is first-class, with an appealing heroine, exciting action, glamorous settings, and a tender love story. Anna is smart, brave, and loyal. She is also a rare leading lady who vanquishes the bad guy on her own.
Note: kids may be concerned that, having found her grandmother, Anastasia leaves again, not wanting the life of an expatriate princess. Younger kids may be upset by the (offscreen) execution of the Tsar’s family and the scary villain.
Older kids will want to know more about the real story. They may like seeing a live-action (but also fictionalized) version also called “Anastasia,” starring Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar), Helen Hayes, and Yul Brynner, or a later version made for television starring Amy Irving.