Movies | Pop Culture | 90s

20 Years Later, "Anastasia" Is Still One Of The Best Animated Classics

Remarkably it's the 20th anniversary of the release of Anastasia. If that doesn't make you feel old, then I don't know what will.

For those who don't know the movie well, it's about an orphan named Anya who was looking for her family, with her only clue being a locket that's inscribed with "Together in Paris." What she doesn't know is she's actually a long-lost Romanov princess named Anastasia, and her grandmother had been searching for her since they were separated during the Russian Revolution.

To commemorate the anniversary, here are some facts that will remind you how far we've come since it first came out.

1. First Animated Feature

Anastasia was 20th Century Fox's first animated film, and it was also one of their only 2D movies before switching to computer animation.

2. Many Voices

Lacey Chabert who later became known for her role in Mean Girls and Party of Five provided the singing voice of Young Anastasia, while Kristen Dunst lent her voice to the character.

3. It Brought In Big Money

It is currently Don Bluth's highest grossing film bringing in $139,804,348 in box office revenue worldwide.

4. And Got Lots of Awards

Anastasia received two Academy Award nominations in 1998 and became not only the first Don Bluth and Gary Goldman film, but also the first non-Disney and non-Pixar animated film to be nominated for an Academy Award since An American Tail in 1986. Anastasia also received more Academy Award nominations that year than Disney's Hercules.

5. First Time Voice Actors

While they may have lent their voices to many characters in the last 20 years, this was John Cusack and Kristen Dunst first time voicing an animated character. The majority of the cast had previously acted in cartoon projects including Kelsey Grammer (Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons), Hank Azaria (as Moe/Snake/miscellaneous on The Simpsons) and Bernadette Peters (as Rita on Animaniacs).

6. Bartok's Voice Wasn't An Easy Sell

Hank Azaria revealed that the producers and one director weren't sold on Bartok's voice in the beginning.

"I kind of went out on a limb with that voice. It was also based on a family member of mine. I really had a strong feeling that it would be fun and it would work. I'll never forget the look on the producers and director's face when I did it. I think they really thought I was insane. They encouraged me to try something else, but I really believed that character would work. And I think that after they got in the editing room and starting cutting it together, they really liked it. And it encouraged me to go even farther with it. It must have been so different from what they imagined the character originally, that they must have thought I was just nuts."

7. Rasputin's Death Was Based On Real Life

The character's demise was based off how he actually died in real life. He was reportedly poisoned with cyanide, shot, stabbed and thrown into a hole in the ice of the Malaya Nevka River where he later died.

8. Rasputin Almost Had A Different Voice

Before Christopher Lloyd was cast for the part, Jonathan Pryce, Patrick Stewart and Tim Curry were considered for the role.

9. Dimitri Was Based On A Real Person

The character of Dimitri was based on a European Prince, who vouched for Anna Anderson's identity as the real Anastasia. The Prince had only met Anastasia once during her childhood, so he wasn't considered a very credible source.

10. The Cocker Spaniel in the Romanov Family Portrait Actually Existed

The spaniel was named Joy and belonged to Anastasia's brother Alexei. To everyone's surprise, the dog survived during the Romanov massacre. The princess also had a dog, called Jimmy, who didn't make it.

11. Anastasia Yellow Dress Actually Existed

The real Anastasia Romanov had almost the same gown as they showed in the movie, with a few minor differences. This was actually one of the last dresses she was photographed in before her death.

12. The Music Box Also Existed

The music box you see in the movie actually existed. It was given to Anastasia by Marie Feoderovna for her thirteenth birthday, but hers was silver with a ballerina on top.


13. Historical Cameos

While this movie may be filled with historical inaccuracies, many famous people from history pop up during the song "Paris Holds the Key (To Your Heart)". This included, Maurice Chevalier, Sigmund Freud, Charles A. Lindburgh, Josephine Baker, Claude Monet, Isadora Duncan, Aguste Rodin and Gertrude Stein.

14. Meg Ryan Almost Didn't Play Anastasia

When she was originally voice to play the lead role, she was initially unsure. She changed her mind when filmmakers showed her a piece of animation by her character's dialogue from Sleepless in Seattle.

Source: Movie Pilot / IMDB