Anastasia (1956) – Review

A group of Russian exiles in Paris, France, come together to try and collect a ten-million-pound inheritance from the Bank of England, by grooming a destitute, out of sorts, young girl named Anna Koreff (Ingrid Bergman), to eventually pose as heir to the Russian throne. The group, fronted by General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine (Yul Brynner), do such a convincing job that the girl quickly believes that she is the real Anastasia all along. Their ultimate fate is to be decided by the Empress (Helen Hayes), who is extremely skeptical of the situation. A classic cinematic release, dating back over sixty years, that received more than one Oscar nomination.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Writers: Aurthur Laurents
Starring: Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Helen Hayes

The Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, the last sovereign of Imperial Russia, and his wife, Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna. After her unfortunate death at the tender age of 17, several women falsely claimed to have been Anastasia, with the best-known impostor being Anna Anderson – the person in which this feature film, released in 1956, revolved around.

From a production point of view, Anastasia certainly contained more enough characteristics to keep you invested for the entire one-hundred and five-minute runtime, with the costume design and set design being something to behold, as was a large majority of the intelligent script put forward. As a viewer, you also found yourself invested in not only the story, but the characters themselves, with many of them having standout, unique features to set them apart and keep your attention.

One aspect of the flick that felt a little disappointing, however, was the much talked about climax. Like many before me, I also felt that the ending to the film was a little too abrupt for its own good, with the filmmakers seemingly running out of runtime to finish their elegant drama and give it the finish it perhaps warranted. Another five, maybe even ten minutes would have helped enormously.

In terms of the casting, the iconic Yul Brynner starred as the lead man, General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine, better known as Bounine through the flick. Meanwhile, Ingrid Bergman adopted the role of Anna Koreff, managing to win an Oscar under the category “Best Actress in a Leading Role” for her portrayal of the desperate woman attempting to convince the world that she was the Grand Duchess Anastasia. Other noteworthy performances stemmed from Helen Hayes and Martita Hunt, portraying the Empress Maria and Baroness Elena, respectively.

Anastasia may not be perfect, but this easy on the eye drama, which boasted various different filming locations dotted around Europe – Denmark, France and the United Kingdom being the most notable – is most certainly worthy of a watch one afternoon.

“You’re examining her as if she was the real Anastasia. There is no Anastasia! She was shot to death ten years ago by a firing squad. We’re not looking for her, gentlemen. We’re seeking only a reasonable facsimile.”

General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine – Anastasia

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