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It's Time To Admit The Cartoon 'Anastasia' Was Unspeakably Weird

Updated August 9, 2018 118k views15 items

While widely considered a classic children’s film, 1997's Anastasia was super dark. Of course, it's not the only grim kids' movie ever made; it doesn't even mark the first bleak Don Bluth movie. This doesn't disqualify it from being good, but there are myriad ways Anastasia is a weird movie.

First and foremost, it's historical fiction about the last Russian czar whose entire immediate family gets murdered. That's a somewhat morbid launching point for a children's movie. Like the trippier versions of Robin William's Genie, Anastasia doesn't lack for intensely creepy elements.

  • Eight-Year-Old Anastasia Looks Much Older

    The beginning of the film depicts Anastasia as an 8-year-old, but one may wonder if the animators had ever seen a child because she looks at least 16. Anastasia appears the same nearly a decade later, except she's grown a couple of feet shorter. That's not how aging works. Dimitri is presumably around the same age, but even he appears to be 12 or 13. 

  • Anastasia Has A Skewed View Of Morality

    One of the main drivers of the plot is the con Anastasia willingly agrees to pull to become a princess. Dimitri and Vladimir want to collect the reward for returning the missing Anastasia. When they meet the memory-addled "Anya," they convince her to accompany them to Paris - where she can learn to act like the missing royal and be presented as such.

    Anya doesn't really believe she is the missing princess, but goes along with the plan, regardless. Once she discovers Dimitri and Vladimir will make money off the scheme, though, she suddenly has a real problem with it - as if the plan to illegally assume the identity of another person isn't inherently wrong.

    It's also bizarre how Anya didn't think the plan involved money in the first place, since she was going to impersonate a member of a royal (read: wealthy) family. 

  • The Random CGI Is Disorienting

    Anastasia is beautifully animated, which makes it confusing when random bits of CGI get introduced. In the climactic battle, Rasputin's magic brings a computer-animated Pegasus statue to life, which the cartoon Dimitri battles. It's a weird bit of "Look what we can do with fancy 1997 computers!" It's not necessary, and it doesn't improve the film.

  • The Accents Are All Over The Place

    Video: YouTube

    While virtually all the characters are Russian, their accents seem to come from across the globe. Kelsey Grammer does a passable Russian accent as Vladimir, but Christopher Lloyd's Rasputin sounds like a strange blend of Russian and British. They're the only actors who even attempt a Russian accent, though.

    Bartok possesses what one can only assume is a Transylvanian accent (which is somewhat acceptable, as he's a bat). The two main characters, Meg Ryan's Anastasia and John Cusack's Dimitri, are straight-up American. Many American-made animated films allow the cast to speak in their standard dialects, but the differing accents upset any suspension of disbelief.