Action / Biography / Drama / History

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 77%
IMDb Rating 7.1 10 6522


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Ingrid Bergman as Anna Koreff
Yul Brynner as General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine
Natalie Schafer as Irina Lissemskaia
Peter Sallis as Grischa
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768.07 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 45 min
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1.6 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 45 min
P/S 4 / 7

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by tomsview 7 / 10

The one that got away?

If you can ride out the dull spots in this talky 1956 movie there is a fascinating story in there somewhere.

The film starts in 1928 as expatriate Russian supporters of the Romanov dynasty in Paris led by General Bounine (Yul Brynner), set up a scam to get their hands on a fortune left in a British bank by Tsar Nicholas II.

The idea is to pass off Anna Anderson (Ingrid Bergman), a homeless amnesiac, as the Princess Anastasia. The key to the plan is to make Empress Maria Feodorovna, the Tsar's mother, accept Anna as her long lost granddaughter.

According to the film, fake Anastasias were popping up out of just about every bowl of cabbage borscht and Beluga caviar, but eventually Anna is so convincing that we are never sure if she is the real deal or not.

Although a number of scenes were filmed in Paris and Copenhagen, opening the film out, the first half is tough going, especially the scenes with Bounine, Boris Chernov (Akim Tamiroff) and the other plotters in stagy-looking sets – too many gabby, eccentric characters piled one on top of the other. I'm afraid Hollywood's stereotypes of Russian emigres of the period were just as tedious as their take on the denizens of Ruritanian Kingdoms that were also a speciality of the old studios.

However when Anna interacts with the Empress, the film has tension. Ingrid received the Academy Award for this role although these days she comes across as maybe a little too overwrought while Yul Brynner simply plays Yul Brynner.

Over the years, there have been some fascinating books written about whether or not Anastasia survived. Eventually the discovery of the bodies and DNA took all the fun out of the speculation, pretty well proving that she was murdered in 1918 along with the rest of her family. The real history of the end of the Romanovs is still a haunting story; a 2014 BBC documentary, "Russia's Lost Princesses", gives a brilliant insight into their lives and shocking deaths.

One thing about Anatole Litvak's "Anastasia" though, every time I see it, it fires my imagination to know more about the real events.

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 10 / 10

A definite "must-see"!

Principal players: Ingrid Bergman (Anastasia), Yul Brynner (the prince), Helen Hayes (the dowager empress).

Interesting players in supporting roles: Akim Tamiroff (Chernov), Martita Hunt (the baroness), Ivan Desny (Prince Paul).

Principal production personnel: Director: Anatole Litvak. Screenplay: Arthur Laurents, based on a stage play by Guy Bolton (which was in turn based on a TV play by Marcelle Maurette). Photography: Jack Hildyard. Color: DeLuxe. Art directors: Andrei Andrejew, Bill Andrews. Music: Alfred Newman. Producer: Buddy Adler. 20th Century-Fox. 105 minutes.

Official release date: 13 December 1956. New York opening at the Roxy.

COMMENT: Deservedly a great commercial and critical success, "Anastasia" won numerous awards, including America's two top Best Actress citations for Ingrid Bergman and a National Board of Review "Best Actor" for Yul Brynner.

The story, of course, has been heavily romanticized, but Litvak's aim was to deliver spellbinding entertainment, and this, with the support of an engrossing script, a charismatic cast and well over $3.5 million in production values, the director has admirably achieved. Rarely has the super-wide CinemaScope screen been so consistently utilized with such power and dramatic impact. In color, only "Broken Lance", "The River of No Return" and "The Virgin Queen" run "Anastasia" close.

The DVD can be obtained on the 20th Century-Fox label. Quality rating: ten out of ten.

Reviewed by Mark Turner 8 / 10

Top Performers at Their Peak

Most of us know little about Russian history with much of it happening prior to the Communist takeover given little attention. We hear about Rasputin and Nicholas and Alexandria but not much, at least not as much as with other royal families. The only other story to receive much attention was that of Anastasia, the supposed lost daughter of the royal family who escaped execution and survived. Or did she? Many came forward to claim they were Anastasia but none as famous as Anna Anderson. Here story was the basis for this film and several others. Her claim to be the long lost daughter lasted for decades and it wasn't until DNA results confirmed or denied her claim that the results were determined. But what we have here is a story that revolves around that possibility.

Yul Brynner, fresh from his successes with THE TEN COMMANDMENTS and THE KING AND I, stars as General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine, a Russian exile in Paris of nefarious character who will do anything to possess power and money. Displaced as he is we get the impression he is not above criminal activity and has been searching for just the right person to pass off as the long lost Anastasia.

It seems he has found the perfect foil for his plan, a woman who had a past involving a stay in an asylum, Anna Koureff (Ingrid Bergman). Something in her background makes it seem that she could potentially actually be the woman sought, but the odds are against it. With a bit of training and assistance Bounine intends to pass Anna off as the real thing and as a result lay partial claim to £10 million laying in an English bank, leftover funds from the royal family.

The only way to accomplish this is to pass Anna off as Anastasia to the Dowager Empress Marie Fedorovona (Helen Hayes) in Copenhagen. Hers is the determining factor that will decide if Anna is in fact Anastasia or not. With so many having tried to lay claim to the title it will not be an easy task.

But we have more going on here underneath the surface as Hollywood is want to do. As Bounine trains Anna the pair become close to one another. Beneath his brusque manner and treatment of Anna and her confusion as to whether or not she is who he has told her, an affection begins to grow. It's subtle, nearly not on display, but there all the more time they spend together. Whether or not the end result will involve them as a couple is in doubt but the chance is there.

The movie is not quite a romance but evolves into one coupled equally with the historical retelling of the search for Anastasia. This blending of fact and fiction makes for a slow moving film but an entertaining one at the same time. The film marked a comeback of sorts for actress Bergman who had fallen out of favor due to the strict moral at the time. Having had an open affair with director Roberto Rossellini in 1950 she had been denounced and looked down upon in American society. But her talent shown through and she worked her way back into the public eye with films like this one.

Once more Twilight Time has done an excellent job with the transfer on display here. I've yet to see anything delivered from them that has fallen short. And like all of their titles this one is limited to so many copies so if you're interested get one before they're gone.

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