Anastasia was the mic drop to animation giants Disney. Before I begin this review let's clear the air, 20th century fox is not Disney and Anastasia was produced neither by Disney nor dreamwork. For any 90's kids that were forcibly kept away from all forms of tv growing up, Anastasia is
Anastasia was the mic drop to animation giants Disney.
Before I begin this review let’s clear the air, 20th century fox is not Disney and Anastasia was produced neither by Disney nor dreamwork. For any 90’s kids that were forcibly kept away from all forms of tv growing up, Anastasia is an animated musical that takes on a fictional account of the missing romanov daughter Anastasia.
While the real Anastasia did meet a tragic demise, (can you imagine just how shocked I was finding the truth about her as a child). The ageless classic puts an alternate and mystic spin to the Russian princesses tale, even borrowing from the scandal of Anna Anderson. While the film is heavily inaccurate it provides enough humour and good music to briefly uphold a suspension of disbelief.
The first 10 minutes of Anastasia is exposition done well, we get everything we need to know and the set up ready for the large time-skip. Plus there is enough conflict and suspense that makes you want to know how the rest of the story plays out. You could imagine as a child this was pretty exciting to see in a children’s film. Compared to something like The Lion King that took awhile to get to the major plot twist that would be a catalyst for Simba’s change.
We speedily get to the point of the palace being under attack as part of the curse placed on the Romanov family by the antagonist Ra..Ra..Rasputin; lover of the Russian queen.. I mean former royal advisor. While her family meet their end, only young Anastasia and her grandmother are able to flee with the help of a servant boy, remember him he will be very important later. During their escape Anastasia is separated from her grandmother who is pulled away to escape to Paris, while an unconscious Anastasia is later found and admitted to an orphanage with no memory of who she is. A good number of years go by and now an adult Anastasia sets out to St. Petersburg with the only thing giving her a hint to her past; an engraved necklace her grandmother gifted her, with the words written, “Together in Paris”. Serendipity would have it, that the most adorable dog ever would cling to her like rubber to glue. A sign, a tip and three songs later she manages to run into con-artist and former palace servant boy Dimitri and former nobleman Vladimir, and thus begins the journey to the past.
I found the characters well crafted with the only person who still felt like quite a mystery from beginning to end was Vladimir. I could not mention enough how solid of a character Anastasia was and how much of a delight it was to watch her. Not only was she a strong, and naturally an adventurous character full of awe and wonder, she was also quite the fashionista. Everything she wore looked amazing on her. Her quibbles with Dimitri were entertaining and every character interaction was believable and interesting. Everyone was lovable to a degree even Rasputin in all his eye popping, head rolling maliciousness, as the antagonist of the story.
I really liked Dimitri’s character; most of all his ability to think fast and catch on was something else. The train scene was definitely a highlight to his ability and intellect, and it was an appropriate dilemma to work as a launching pad for Anastasia and Dimitri’s relationship. I swear that the chemistry between Anastasia and Dimitri was amazing, I believed in their romance. Rasputin felt lack-lustre at times as a villain not really coming into his own till the final act.
Characters aside, some scenes did irk me, while the train scene made sense in having supernatural things happen away from the general public, the final scene at the bridge above the seine- why was no one around so suddenly? It would have made sense if she was in a completely different dimension, then I could buy the empty Parisian streets.
The animation is expressive and extremely well done even down to the fabrics and clothing. It felt like watching a stage play the way it was animated. If you ever need an example of what an animated musical should look like, then look no further. The attention to detail in the animation, along with the fluidity was gorgeous to look at. The staging is especially what caught my eye, and made me realise that it was purposely set up that way to feel like a theatre. My biggest compliments have to go to the dancing sequences, they feel very lively and really magical. There is something special about the whole aesthetic of the film that its smooth animation really contributes to. My biggest pet peeve while it mostly has to do with the editing, would be the overuse of fade ins and outs as transitions. Sometimes a cut here and there would suffice. However, all in all their attention to detail in the animation was even more exemplified in the number I never should have let them dance. The sun setting in the background was a nice touch making the passing of time feel very natural.
Details motifs and the unashamed use of sparkles and lights really boosts the films imagery. The best scene would be once upon a December, from a gloomy dusty old palaces to a bright glittering and vibrant stage of excitement and warmth, you feel like you are in the joyous circling of dancers. The costume design is period relevant and gorgeous Anastasia looks beautiful in every outfit she is in only getting more and more beautiful as the story progresses. Character designs are nothing special or incredibly different as the character designers went for a realistic approach in regards to the character designs, making the characters that much more relatable. The earthy palette is great for the gold and starry wonderfulness of some scenes and is even more amazing when it all accumulates together in the set design for Paris is the key to your heart taking on an impressionist and pointillist background design mimicking the work of Renoir and Van Gogh. Honestly. Set design is gorgeous and the scale of work really is magnificent. The mixture of 3D elements and 2D were well done and weren’t annoying despite being noticeably outdated. They weren’t too ambitious in the 3D work, a bit here and there was enough so much so that it would not look completely off by 2015 standards.
I don’t think I can “big up” this film enough. As I have mentioned previously, everything from the camera shots to staging is really well done with a lot of thought put into it. Another example would be in how well they mimic the 1930’s/40’s beauty close ups that illuminate the face, a film technique relevant for the time the film is set.
This may be blasphemy to some but Anastasia does a better job at animated musicals than Disney. The songs are fantastic. The soundtrack is of course memorable and enchanting with music that plays on the strings of Eastern European influence, later blending in a mixture of songs that take on a bold broadway approach.
I don’t talk about voice acting in sound a whole lot because I often don’t have much to say about it; but this time around I really noticed how well done the voice acting was.
The voice acting was some grade A work, borrowing the talents of exceptional stars in film, tv and theatre. It isn’t all the time using hollywood A-listers helps yet this combination of actors and actresses work really well.
I will encourage anyone reading this to give Anastasia another watch, fox made this film in order to compete with Disney, and it is no wonder why Anastasia is continually mistaken for a Disney production. The stellar work put into it by Don Bluth has been criminally under-rated for a Fox Animation. If Fox had turned out a couple of more animations to the same standard as this, I believe that Fox most definitely would have given a present Disney a hard time in the industry.
To start off my first Review and Previews for this next month with #ChildhoodFavourties Series. I will be reviewing the much loved Cinderella by Disney. Cinderella is an adaption of the european folk-tale Cendrillion, that is a moral tale of injustice and oppression and the result of enduring it with kindness and
To start off my first Review and Previews for this next month with #ChildhoodFavourties Series. I will be reviewing the much loved Cinderella by Disney.
Cinderella is an adaption of the european folk-tale Cendrillion, that is a moral tale of injustice and oppression and the result of enduring it with kindness and hope and the consequences of those who inflict suffering on others.
Now there are several variations to the tale, some gory others quite tame, but thanks to a little bit of research (on wikipedia I might add) Disney adapted the 1697 version by Charles Perrault.
Cinderella, A young ill-treated maiden is forced to live life as a hand maiden after her father dies. Constantly on hand and foot for her evil and incredibly spiteful step-mother and step-sisters, Cinderella the endearing and happy go lucky young woman, very suddenly finds her life turned around when a frustrated king decides it is time for his son, Prince Charming to get married.
Thanks to a couple of cute squeaky mice and the famous words bippity boppity boo, Cinderella is turned from maid to princess in a snap, and then she is whisked away in her iconic glass slippers to a night of love and dancing that she nor the prince will ever forget.
When I think of the story, Cinderella is a simple yet uplifting tell of good things coming to those who wait, but in the case of Cinderella to those who endure. Even though Cinderella’s dream, that one wish of hers wasn’t made quite clear in the actual story and seemed to be hijacked by her love for the prince, It still doesn’t negate the fact that it is a story of hope and belief. Ultimately not giving up on your dreams.
While the story of Cinderella, may not be every woman’s cup of tea due to the fact that, her happy ending comes from her getting married, I would still argue that there is still a lot of good in the story to teach young girls about kindness, enduring and never giving up.
Now some of my criticism actually lie in two things Gus, the mouse and the original story. I remember as a child, Gus being so stupid that it annoyed me a great deal and stopped Cinderella from being my most favourite disney classic, but then to be reminded just how infuriatingly stupid he was just never made me appreciate his character or really get into some bit of the story that involved him doing anything meaningful.
Second is the prince not remembering what the girl he fell in love with looked like, and it being decided by who could fit their feet in first rather than just finding the woman who had the missing slipper. Prince Charming were you really going to marry the red haired vixen over the blonde bun haired damsel you were dancing with the night before?
No? Of course not!
As always Disney have the trademark of outlining their characters design’s respective colours rather than outlining in black or brown. This gives for a more softer look and more appealing character designs that capture the eyes in a non-intrusive way.
The designs of characters are quite simple designs making use of basic shapes to introduce archetypes, opting for simpler character designs allowed for more detailed and extravagant backgrounds.
With the most stunning scene being Cinderella at the ball. The shift from a golden washed ballroom to the dazzling blue evening garden. This scene will surely carry you away to a dreamy state of romance.
The animator’s for Cinderella really showed off how well they can animate. The animation is masterfully done, the fluidity, the appeal, the essence of characters is all well captured.
Movements are lively and feel very real and this is due to the fact that a lot of the animation comes from studying real people interacting and moving.
Some of the best animation comes from the scene with Cinderella at the ball. I noticed that Disney really take their time with pacing the characters, when things slow down they really slow creating an almost tranquil moment of romance and life but as soon as things get hectic when that clock ticks twelve, Cinderella still keeps a certain poise and manner in her movement that is suitable for her personality and really heralds Disney as masters of their craft.
Music is always accompanying scenes, and no scene is left without background music for too long. It definitely creates ambience and sets the mood and it wasn’t until i openly looked out for music I saw how much it really sets a scene and builds up anticipation.
As a young girl the “chipmunk” singing from the mice was funny and cute and well… fun. Now at the lovely age of 22, I really found it annoying. After 15 years, 2 Alvin and the Chipmunks films and a generational wave of auto-tune, it was something that I was surprised to remember as not being too bad as a kid.
All in all the soundtrack for Cinderella is extremely catchy especially the main theme, “A dream is a wish your heart makes” this soft calming pick me up ballad will makes sure to inject a healthy dose of hope and positive thoughts before the story even begins, and it is a song that I reckon is unforgettable.
When watching Cinderella again I most definitely noticed that that stood out greatly was the animation and music to tell a story that is renowned as a classic in storytelling. Though design isn’t pixel perfect neither is it shabby, but when comparing Cinderella to a lot of Disney’s later works, Disney has improved a drastic amount setting the bar in its standards throughout the years.
As their studio has grown through the decades, so has their understanding of cinematography and storytelling. With Cinderella being one of their earliest feature lengths, in an industry that was still finding its feet artistically and commercially, Disney did an outstanding job for their time.
Nostalgia aside Cinderella presents a simple tale with a good moral attached to it and I did quite enjoy watching the film again, it never gets old no matter how many times I have seen it.
Now if you aren’t an owner of a DVD and if you have long lost your VHS copy of Cinderella, you’ll be glad to know that Cinderella is in fact free to watch on Amazon Prime, if you are a prime member and of course on Netflix.