Having cleaned up at box offices worldwide with the blockbusters Titanic and The Full Monty, 1998 was a very good year for 20th Century-Fox, even before the release of Anastasia proved they had an animation department to rival that of Walt Disney Productions. It apparently took more than 300 animators three years to produce this $65 million sanitised, but highly enjoyable, account of the Russian Revolution. After fleeing the palace when the trouble begins, the young Romanov Princess Anastasia (voiced by Meg Ryan, singing voice Liz Callaway) loses her memory. Later, when she is 18, and called Anya, she meets up with ex-palace servant-turned conman Dmitri (John Cusak), who decides to try and pass her off as Princess Anastasia. Together with Dmitri’s sidekick, Vladimir (Kelsey Grammer), they travel to Paris in order to present the teenager to her exiled grandmother, Dowager Empress Marie (Angela Lansbury), and collect a reward. After a hectic journey, involving incredibly animated shipboard adventures and a runaway train, Anya proves beyond doubt that she is the real Anastasia, and in spite of beyond-the-grave problems from Rasputin (aided by various creatures including a deadpan bat named Bartok (Hank Azaria), she and Dmitri go off together into the (obviously red) sunset. Vladimir and Dmitri’s friend Sophie (Bernadette Peters) get on well too. Lynn Ahrens And Stephen Flaherty (lyrics and music) wrote the delightful songs, ‘Once Upon A December’, ‘A Rumour In St. Petersburg’, ‘Journey To The Past’, ‘In The Dark Of The Night’, ‘Learn To Do It’, ‘Paris Holds The Key (To Your Heart)’, and ‘At The Beginning’, which were sung and reprised by various artists. Ironically, at Oscar time, Ahrens and Flaherty were beaten for Best Original Song by Titanic, and (with David Newman) for Original Musical or Comedy Score by The Full Monty. Anastasia was directed and produced by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. The screenplay, written by Susan Gauthier, Bruce Graham, Bob Tzudiker, and Noni White, was based on the play by Marcelle Maurette as adapted by Guy Bolton, and Arthur Laurents’ screenplay for the 1956 Anastasia movie. Ingrid Bergman won an Academy Award for her performance in that one.
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