That Animated Anastasia Movie Is Full Of Lies

Posted By on Mar 3, 2014 | 13 comments


I won’t lie—I adore that animated Anastasia movie from the 90s. It’s got wonderful music, a lovely story, the animal sidekick is a Russian bat…what more could you want?

Here’s the downside to a movie like that though—people think that movie represents what really happened. I mean, sure, they know that the magic bits were probably fake, but they assume Anastasia really did escape, that Rasputin really was the bad guy, and that the talking Russian bat was…well. I don’t know what they think about the talking Russian bat. Either way, they take the animated movie as truth rather than a fictionalization of history.

Of course, TSARINA is also a fictionalization of history too, so don’t think I’m judging—but I am pretty proud of the fact that, magic aside, the book is rather historically accurate, even down to the street names. I admit, though, that there aren’t any Russian bats in my book. For this, I am sorry.

Anyway– in the author’s note in TSARINA I explain what history I modified and what history I stuck to. I thought for this post, it’d be fun to break down what history the Anastasia movie modified, and what bits are true.

Let’s break down the movie piece by piece, shall we?


In the movie:
Anastasia and her family are run out of the Winter Palace during the February revolution. Anastasia is about 8 years old, give or take. They flee for their lives! They run to the train station! Anastasia is accidentally lost in the chaos!

In reality:
Anastasia and her family were long, long out of the Winter Palace by the time the February revolution happened. Because the political climate in St. Petersburg had gotten so bad, they were living just outside of the city, in another residence called the Alexander Palace. Anastasia was actually about 16 at the time. The family was put under house arrest at the Alexander Palace, and eventually were moved across the country along with a handful of servants.


Movie Anastasia at the time of the Revolution



Real Anastasia at the time of the Revolution (She’s on the far right. Okay, I know it’s not the most flattering photo of her, but they’d been captured and were living in Siberia, so cut her a break?)





In the movie:
Anastasia returns to St. Petersburg when she’s about 18, with a dog and a head full of amnesia. The rest of the royal family has been executed, but the rumor in St. Petersburg (delightfully explained via a musical number) is that Anastasia survived the execution.

In reality:
I’m sad to say, Anastasia did not survive the execution of her family. Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, and their children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei all died. They were executed in a basement in Ekaterinberg, after having been imprisoned by the Reds for about a year. It was a brutal execution, and one that, quite honestly, I have to work very hard not to dwell on. For a long time there was speculation that Anastasia (or Maria) and Alexei survived, because their bodies were not recovered with the others. However, many years later, their bones were found and DNA confirmed that all of the Romanovs are accounted for.




In the movie:
A young man named Dmitri is holding auditions, looking for someone to play Anastasia so that he can collect the reward her grandmother— who survived the revolution by fleeing to Paris early— is offering.

In reality:
Basically, all of the “real” bits are in this section:
1) Anastasia’s grandmother, Maria Feodorova, did survive the revolution and desperately, desperately wanted to believe that her children and grandchildren did as well. She wasn’t living in Paris, though— she was in London.
2) There was, in fact, a man who defrauded noble families with impostors he tried to pass off as the grand duchesses. He wasn’t handsome, and he wasn’t named Dmitri— he was named Boris, and he was actually the husband of Maria Rasputin, who was Grigori Rasputin’s daughter.

In the movie:
Dmitri has those aforementioned auditions in the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg


The Alexander Ballroom in the movie.


In reality:
The movie actually did a pretty decent job with the Winter Palace– it’s pretty accurate, if you ask me!

The Alexander Ballroom in real life (restored).





In the movie:
Rasputin sings the best villain song ever, after Poor Unfortunate Souls (which, obviously, is the number one villain song of all time). Rasputin has cursed the Romanov family because they betrayed him and threw him out of Russian court. His curse made each of them pay! But one little girl got away! Little Anya beware, Rasputin’s AWAKE!

In reality:
Rasputin sort of fueled the Russian revolution, but saying that he was directly responsible for the Romanov’s fate is a pretty huge stretch. Rasputin came into the Romanov’s lives because he was a “holy man” who the Tsarina believed could cure Alexei’s hemophilia. Was he holy? I don’t know. He was definitely a pretty strange guy, though. He was allowed access to the royal family that a lot of nobles were very uncomfortable with— especially since he was a drunk womanizer who didn’t bathe. Eventually, a group of nobles coaxed Rasputin out of his house, and murdered him, because his creep level had just gotten way too high. The royal family never betrayed him, and they continued to secretly love and miss him after he was gone.




In the movie:
Bartok

BARTOK-bartok-13795363-640-480


In reality:
Zero Bartoks






Here’s the thing though— if the Anastasia movie, no matter how inaccurate, makes people interested in Russian history? Makes them turn to Google and read up? Then it’s AWESOME. It’s sort of like a My First History lesson, which eases you into the whole thing by way of catchy songs and a charming love story. Plus, the songs, guys. HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE THE SONGS?

Yep. This movie rocks.

13 Comments

  1. I seriously love your blog posts. This one is awesome. I love the Anastasia movie and I plan on reading your book very soon (Especially now I read in your blog a bit) And I love that bat and that song. In the dark of the night…

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    • Wonderful post, I am watching the movie as we speak and doing just that googling pictures and history

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  2. this blew my mind XD it’s not as cute but this would have been a cooler plot in the movie

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    • I will agree of crictics tell about Anatasia. I really believed she surrived. People in reality are deceptive to public. The truth is that Anastasia esaped and survived. Many people who lie are the ones who are over critical for what is said. I know someone who worked for the real Anastasia but had evidence that she was. Now in the cartoon yes there is going to be some mixture of fact and fantasy. That is normal because children watch the film. I will never who knew about the woman because it happens that real Anastasia Romanov protected her identity.

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      • Anastasia surived! Survived! No media is really accurate on the history channel at all. I believe that many critics lie and cover up the truth that already exist. Sometimes when something seems untrue that is when it really is true. When something seems true that is when its untrue.

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        • Oh my god, Anastasia and the whole rest of the Romanov family are dead, they have been since 1918. If you don’t know that, then you’re stupid.

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  3. PLEASE PLEASE PLEEEEEEEEASE tell me you have done more of these? I would really like to see your take on Disney movies like The little Mermaid, Mulan, The Hunchback and Pocahontas which I know are VERY fraught with inaccuracies. Whether that’s historical inaccuracies or their stories greatly differed from the original story.

    Please reply! 😀 I loved this article!

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  4. Actually, the palace in he movie is not the Winter Palace but the Catherine Palace (also in St. Petersburg). Just google pictures of the place and you can see the very accurate resemblance between the two. Otherwise I like your blog entry and I hope I get to read your book someday!

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  5. Does anyone know what kind of thing Anastasia’s brother had???!!!! Hemophilia…….. If you don’t know what that is look it up!!!

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  6. I think you are a stupid liar! You think I am supposed to believe you. no way . your story is the fictional one here oo you make me mad. You know that bridge they were standing on in the movie is a real bridge it is called alexander ll . The dress she was wearing at the end of the movie was a real dress she wore that when she was 9 yrs old. the drawing she gave to her grandma at the beginning and close to the end of the movie was a real drawing she gave to her dad and when she was telling her grandma close to the end of the movie that olga said the drawing looked like a pig riding a donkey was actually what her sister olga said. You are the one who is full of lies sir or madam. Now bye felisha.

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  7. Its a shame that nothing about the true story is a fairy tale. If anything, it sounds like a horrible nightmare. Anastasia, aside from the Iron Giant, is my all time favorite animated film. In fact Stacy is short for Anastasia. I knew the true story… I just prefer to imagine she made it out alive and that even a con artist can have a heart of gold. Oh yea, what is the name of your book? Is it Anastasia?

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  8. The Romanovs were also not blameless heroes. Nicholas Romanov was elitist and racist, believing those people who looked a certain way were superior (not unlike the Nazis, although he didn’t kill millions of people). Tzar Nicholas’s ideal was fair skin, black hair and blue eyes. His soldiers swept through Russian peasant villages and captured any man they wanted to who fit that description and forced them to enter into the Tzar’s service as members of his own imperial guard. That was my great grandfather’s story. Much later, my grandfather was given a grant by the Tzar to sail to America with his family. Of course, the farm they removed him from was decades later burned to the ground by the Nazis and everyone in it slaughtered. Interesting family history.

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  1. On an Old Memory Rediscovered on a Sleepless Night | miscellaneous cogitations - […] Fox’s Anastasia. A gorgeous musical animation that tells a touching story (which while not historically representative, is taken from…

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