So I was casting about trying to figure out what I would do for my final blog post when a friend reminded me of Anastasia. Before Don Bluth fell into obscurity I really did enjoy his films as a child. However, what interests me more so than the animation’s style or any Don Bluth vs Big-Name-Animation-Company showdown is the history. I remember the myth about Anastasia and how it was rumored she possibly survived the execution of her entire family with the help of a servant. There was a major Anastasia impersonator Anna Anderson, however, when her remains were examined it was proven conclusively that she was not Anastasia. While this impostor bit plays into the film, I am more interested in Grigori Rasputin, a man who possibly “helped to discredit the tsarist government, leading to the fall of the Romanov dynasty, in 1917”.

In the film Rasputin is stuck in a state of un-deadness as a living corpse which seems like an odd move to make for the animators, until you learn of the myths surrounding Rasputin’s death–or rather his refusal to die. Here is a clip from the film where Rasputin sings a song explaining his want for revenge and shows his existence in limbo/refusal to die. In real life he was supposedly poisoned, shot multiple times, tied up an tossed into a half frozen river yet escaped his bonds and attempted to claw at the ice to escape. Some of this has been disproved and some of it given more credence, but the fact remains these myths have marked the movie. Rasputin exists in this movie as a person who will not die, and perseveres to achieve his goals, no matter how twisted. So while the movie is a fantasized version of this inability to be truly killed outright the first time around, it synthesizes with the history of the real Rasputin.

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