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For the 1997 Don Bluth Animated film, See Anastasia (1997 film)
For Other uses, see Anastasia (disambiguation)
Anastasia
Directed by Anatole Litvak
Produced by Buddy Adler
Written by Marcelle Maurette (play)
Guy Bolton (adaptation)
Arthur Laurents
Starring Ingrid Bergman
Yul Brynner
Helen Hayes
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) December 13, 1956 (US release)
Running time 105 min.
Country US
Language English / French

Anastasia is a 1956 20th Century Fox historical drama film directed by Anatole Litvak. The film stars Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, and Helen Hayes. Supporting players include Akim Tamiroff (who earlier worked with Ingrid Bergman in the film For Whom the Bell Tolls), Martita Hunt (who provides comic relief as a fluttering lady-in-waiting), and, in a small role, Natalie Schafer (familiar to television audiences from her later role on Gilligan's Island).

The film tells the story of a young, confused woman in 1920s France (Ingrid Bergman), who is picked up and influenced by a group of Russian expatriates, led by Yul Brynner, into passing herself off as Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, the daughter of the murdered Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. However, the ultimate test for her is to convince the Dowager Empress, Maria Feodorovna (Helen Hayes), of her authenticity.

Contents

Plot

The film was loosely based on the true story of a former inmate in a German asylum who became known as 'Anna Anderson' and whose story made headlines for decades. However, the Russian monarchist movement never backed Ms. Anderson, nor did she ever meet with the Dowager Empress, played by Hayes. The script plays with the question of Anna/Anastasia's identity.

Ten years of turmoil have passed since the teenage Anastasia and her sisters and brother were presumably killed. Does the refugee Anna who has turned up in Paris have the bearing, speech, and intimate knowledge of the imperial family that the real grand duchess would have? Or is she merely an apt pupil of General Bounine (Brynner), a recovering amnesiac with a striking resemblance who has been cleverly groomed by the émigré general to stake a claim to 10 million pounds left by the Tsar in an English bank? In a series of encounters with former familiars and members of the imperial court, Anna begins to display a confidence and style that astonish her skeptical interlocutors, yet retains our sympathy by seeming more interested in recovering her own identity than the imperial bank account. In a tour de force climactic meeting with the Empress in Copenhagen, Bergman and Hayes take the measure of each other, alternately projecting imperial self-possession and the anguish of family longing. Meanwhile Bounine has become increasingly jealous of the attentions the fortune-hunting Prince Paul pays to Anna. At a grand ball at which her engagement with Paul is to be announced, the Empress has a private word with Anna/Anastasia, who subsequently elopes with Bounine.

While the film does not reveal whether Anna really is the Romanov princess, a series of subtle hints throughout appear to suggest that she is. The gradual realisation of her true identity is juxtaposed upon the romantic interest that develops within Bounine, who in one of his speeches declares to Anna / Anastasia that he cares for who she is and not what her name is.

Hayes summons all her stage experience to deliver the celebrated last line, summing up the film's poignant exploration of identity and role-playing. Asked how she will explain the vanishing of her supposed granddaughter to a ballroom full of expectant guests, she declares, "I will tell them that the play is over, go home!" The film closes with the regal figure of the Dowager Empress on the arm of Prince Paul, descending the grand staircase.

Production

The movie was adapted by Guy Bolton and Arthur Laurents from the play by Marcelle Maurette. The structure of the play can still be detected in the static settings and theatrical "scenes" of the cinematic version, which has additional, essentially decorative ball scenes. It was directed by Anatole Litvak.

The film marked Bergman's return to Hollywood after several years working with her then-husband, Roberto Rossellini, in Italy. Anastasia won her an Academy Award for Best Actress, the second of three Oscars she would receive. The musical score from the film was also nominated for an Academy Award for Original Music Score and was popular after the film's release.

Animated feature

References

External links

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