Thursday, April 9, 2015

Messages in Anastasia

As we have recently discussed in class, and as I am becoming increasingly aware of myself, movies express more messages than meet the eye. Some messages are outwardly stated, while others are subtle and only picked up on when you are looking for them. I have begun to wonder if the subtle messages get noticed by our subconscious minds, and perhaps, reverberate in our brains even when we were unaware that we even picked up on them. Many childrens movies get chided for this very reason. While some people would argue that children do not pick up on these covertly expressed messages, and only see the positive themes of children’s movies, others would say that many of these hidden messages are negative and misdirect children, even if unconsciously noticed.
For my Blog 4, I chose to analyze one of my favorite movies from when I was younger, and quite frankly I was shocked by all I the things I had not picked up on before. The movie Anastasia is about a Russian princess whose family, save for her grandmother, is murdered by an evil sorcerer of sorts named Rasputin. Only Anastasia and her grandmother survive but are separated during their escape when Anastasia falls and hits her head, resulting in amnesia. She grows up as an orphan, not knowing where she came from of who her family is, only guided by one clue: a necklace left to her by her grandmother that reads “Together in Paris.” The movie is about Anastasia and the two conmen who eventually help her reunite with her grandmother. And of course, as all princess movies go, Anastasia falls in love along the way with one of the men, Demitri.
The movie is somewhat based on the actual execution of the Romanov family, the Imperial family of Russia. One of the things I was most shocked I had never realized before was that in the film, the revolution is not caused by civil unrest with the monarchy, instead it is caused by a curse that was cast on the royal family… this was an interesting twist on the facts of what actually happened. I interpreted this as one of those subtle messages, imprinting the idea that a what truly made the people the most happy was being ruled over by a monarchy rather than elected officials. 
The entire movie is obsessed with the idea of royal pedigree. Anastasia is nothing more than a poor, grungy orphan before the conmen plant the idea that she could be a princess inside her head. And only after she transforms to fit her new role is she seen as desirable. This movie weighed heavily on the importance of a hierarchy, and near the end when it is revealed that Anastasia truly is the princess, Demitri no longer sees himself as good enough for her and doesn’t think they should be together, even though she is still the same girl he fell in love with. 

I had never realized before the stress this movie put on the separation of the classes and the stark contrast it showed between the working class and the upper class citizens. One scene that was an interesting foreshadowing for this particular theme occurred at the beginning. It showed a beautiful party in a palace ballroom and everyone was dressed up in flowing gowns and adorn suits, and in the corner a young Dimitri, who was a kitchen boy at the palace when he was little, was sneaking a peek at the festivities and looking out of place. He was dressed in grungy, baggy clothes and was hastily called back to the kitchen.
While this movie did seem to subtly reference separation of social classes it also expressed positive messages of family and home and love. The scene where Anastasia finally reunites with her grandmother after so many years is one of the happiest scenes of the film. But, an even better example of the power of love that is a theme in this movie is when Anastasia decides to elope with Dimitri rather than stay in Paris with her grandmother. This is also a counterexample to the stress on social class because they decide to be together despite their different social statuses. Overall this movie was full of interesting surprises and messages.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this movie growing up too! I watched it when I was little and when I was older, I was amazed to find out it was based on a real situation in Russia in the early 1900's. The Russian royal family was massacred, and the only remains not found were those of Anastasia, and thus began the giant fantasy of "finding the lost princess". As a child, though, I don't think there was ever really a lesson to be learned, other than an (inaccurate) historical one. If I picked anything up, it was a message similar to Aladdin, where you see a rags-to-riches scenario, and learn that the person is more than what they're wearing. I think that's one of the reasons Disney never picked up on this story, there wasn't really a "big picture" or "lesson to be learned". Great movie though, good times.