Today’s Prayer Focus


Reviewed by: Dave Rettig

Moral Rating: Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Age 8 to Adult
Genre: Animation Family Adventure Fantasy Musical Mystery Romance Drama
Length: 1 hr. 34 min.
Year of Release: 1997
USA Release: November 21, 1997 (wide)
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporationclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

amnesia / loss of memories

family relationships

Russian revolution

sin / evil

demons in the Bible

compare to goodness and righteousness


What is the Occult? Answer

THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

sorcery in the Bible

magic and magicians in the Bible

Featuring Meg RyanAnastasia (voice)
John CusackDimitri (voice)
Kelsey GrammerVladimir (voice)
Christopher LloydRasputin (voice)
Hank AzariaBartok (voice)
Bernadette PetersSophie (voice)
Kirsten DunstYoung Anastasia (voice)
Angela LansburyThe Dowager Empress Marie (voice)
Rick Jones … Czar Nicholas/Servant/Revolutionary Soldier/Ticket Agent (voice)
Lacey ChabertYoung Anastasia (singing voice)
See all »
Director Don Bluth
Gary Goldman
Producer Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Fox Animation Studios
See all »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. Trademark logo.
20th Century Studios
, a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, a division of The Walt Disney Company
Copyrighted, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Twentieth Century Fox’s “Anastasia” is the “based on a true story” animated tale of the Romanov family and their lost heiress, Anastasia (voice of Meg Ryan). Anastasia separated from her family and her memory, winds up in an orphanage under the dominion of a crabby headmistress. When an opportunity to discover her past arises, she follows a sign to St. Petersburg and adventure! However, the long forgotten and now quite dead magician Rasputin (voice of Christopher Lloyd) and his demonic curse wait on some underworld island to destroy the last Romanov.

This film could run head to head with Disney’s best. There are a few scenes (particularly during fast camera angle changes) where the animation appears somewhat jerky; however, the overall quality is excellent! The mixed media styles (the French impression-like backgrounds with the high detail foregrounds) gave the appearance of amuch more mature film artistically. The music was exceptional! Although your four-year old will not be running around singing these songs, they were catchy and appropriately heightened the emotional experience of the on-screen action.

Also continuing in the tradition of Disney is the animated mysticism. However, this isn’t a lotus-position sitting baboon or a nurturing friendly tree spirit, Rasputin is a Satan-worshipping, hateful, undead dweller of hell filled with a lust for death and a minion of vaporous green demons at his bidding! So graphic are the scenes with Rasputin that I winced numerous times. And as expected (at least in films), it is not God and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who comes to the rescue but human courage and strength.

Due to the frightening nature of Rasputin, I would not recommend this for children under 8. Also, the characters are not the singing teapots and dancing Dalmatians that younger minds seem to appreciate. Adults will enjoy the beautiful artistry and driving music, as well as the interaction between Anastasia and Dimitri.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—From my Christian perspectives, there’s always punishment to a character in a film that sells their soul, whether that person be seen as a protagonist or an antagonist. Even as a child, I knew Rasputin was no role model. Plus, I don’t think Bartok is a bat from hell. Plus, he’s a white Honduras bat for people who don’t know their bats. There may be no mention of God, but there was technically no mention of the devil. Plus, the bad guy didn’t complete his goal.

On a personal note, “Anastasia” is my third favorite movie, and has been a fave for many years. However, I don’t condone a character that sells his/her soul, and Rasputin will always be on my least favorite cartoons list. I would not play this for kids, as it is gross in some parts. It should be a PG movie, but I would still be cautious. If your a Christian teen that still enjoys kid’s movies, by all means watch this!

If your worried about kids who watch Rasputin, keep in mind that Rasputin never completed the goal he had, and that doing what Rasputin did will never work out in life.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: __
Jed, age 19 (USA)
Positive—I read the review here early on and went to see the movie without my children (5, 2, 1). I’m glad I didn’t take them. They are just a little too young. But, by the time it comes out on video, I do believe that my five year old (who will probably be six by then) will be ready for it. Yes, it was scary in some scenes. But beyond that I thought this was a GREAT movie. The music was excellent! (I walked out of the movie, across the mall, into a music shop and bought the CD.)

I was encouraged to see someone sell their soul to the devil and NOT get away with it (“Little Mermaid”). Rasputin loses. Everything! His life (here and eternally), and the very thing that he sells his soul to get—complete destruction of the Romanovs. Whether or not the movie is historically accurate is of little concern to me. This is a fairy tale. It is animation. My two year old knows that animation is not real. I would think that most adults should be able to figure that out, too.

The animation while maybe not quite up to current Disney is better than “Snow White” or most of the other Disney classics. This has quickly become one of my favorite movies. I can’t wait until my children are old enough to watch it with me. Now I just have to find a babysitter to watch my kids so I can take my wife to see it.
Jim VanDuzer, age 29
Positive—My husband and I took our girls, 8 and 4 to see “Anastasia”. We all enjoyed it and were happy that Disney has some competition. As Christians, it is always sad to know that Hollywood rarely gives God the glory for overcoming evil. But, as long as evil is shown as evil (and not mystified as a Grandmother Willow), I can take my children to this movie and then explain to them where real courage and strength are found!
Jana Baker
Positive—I feel that Rasputin is one… evil villain… At least love plays a part and that can be easily translated by parents by saying that God is love and gives us the power to love so He really did save Anastasia and Dimitri. I would advise children (even 8 and up) of the graphic “gross” scenes and frightening evil displayed in the scenes with Rasputin before they see the film. I’d also like to say that I found Vladimir very engaging, and I thought it was wonderful that Dimitri learned his lesson and didn’t take the money. There were many sweet moments, and the animation was fantastic but I feel it should have been rated PG if not PG-13 because of the violence.
Tammy, age 29
Positive—Hey—this is a remake, too. Yul Brynner and Ingrid Bergman starred in the original Oscar nominee from 1956. Hasn’t anyone heard of it before?
Positive—I finally got to watch “Anastasia” in its entirety, recently, and I found the movie to be delightful. Fun, some chuckle-worthy moments, beautiful animation, and a fantastic soundtrack. “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon a December” definitely can compete with some of the best Disney songs (the former was nominated for an Oscar).

I also appreciated a few positive messages. Dmitri comes to realize life is more than just about materialism. By the time he figures out who Anya really is, he learns about love and that people and loving others carry more value than any money in the world. I loved that message. Also, Anya learns to stand up for herself and face her fears. Familial love is uplifted, and so is the value of honesty.

As for Rasputin, I will say the film’s only real flaw is that he could have been toned down as far as how dark he was. In fact, considering how light-hearted most of the movie is, his darker scenes almost seem out of place. This movie would be PG if it was released today. Even Disney’s “Hunchback of Notre Dame” didn’t go so far as to show a selling of someone’s soul and someone turning (a little graphically) into a skeleton/dust at the end (the train crash scene is a little intense, also).

Honestly, I wouldn’t show this movie to young kids probably under age 9.

For those who are uncomfortable with any kind of magic in movies, I would suggest staying away. But, it is important to note that besides Rasputin, no one else uses magic. No magic powers, fairy godmothers or anything similar here out of the good guys. There is no “blurring the line” of good magic and evil magic like in the “Harry Potter” movies. Magic is shown to be clearly evil here. It only causes negative and horrible stuff to happen, and Rasputin certainly doesn’t get his way whatsoever.

However, the movie is a little more intense than it needs to be, and the thematic content of what really happened to the Romanovs makes it too much for younger viewers. For maybe ages 10 and up (depending on what your child can handle), I think it’s a great family movie. No sexual content. (In fact, Dmitri and Anastasia don’t kiss until after they’ve eloped, which I found to be great.) No foul language. And no real rude behavior (save for some insults traded by our two leads early on).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Blake Wilson, age 22 (USA)
Negative—Parents, please do not let your children watch this movie. I understand that many of the reviewers are saying that’s it’s OK, because they call evil what it is, but those seem like justifications. This movie is steeped in wickedness. Let me explain why I’m so against this movie.

When I was a little girl, I had a reoccurring nightmare that I was trapped in a train car, and there was a pressure gauge that kept rising. I recall feeling choked out, and I would be filled with a feeling of dread. I would wake up from this dream in a sheer panic. I was too young to even understand why a rising pressure gauge would be dangerous. I was just overcome with fear and a tormented feeling of impending doom. I never understood why that nightmare was so frightening. Over the years, I was able to overcome every other nightmare and fear, but I could never shake the sick feeling I got when I recalled that nightmare.

Fast forward many years: I was recovering from a ruptured appendix last week, and my husband and I thought it would be fun to watch an old movie. We settled on “Anastasia.” There is a scene where the villain sings, “In the dark of the night, evil will find you! In the dark of the night, evil will come!” and my jaw dropped. I don’t care how well we distinguish the bad guys, there’s no reason your kids need to be hearing that song AT ALL. (can you imagine getting those words stuck in your head on a loop?!? No thanks!!!)

Later in the movie, demons attack the train. That is where Dimitri is in the train car and the pressure gauge is rising. I felt the blood drain from my face. I stopped the movie and turned to my husband. THAT SCENE was my nightmare. It’s interesting that my nightmare wasn’t about the bad guy or the demons. Nope… it was more subtle than that. I believe I was plagued with terror over something I didn’t even understand, because a seed of fear was planted in my heart when I watched that movie.

Friends, the devil is cunning. It may not have been the intention of the writers to usher such wickedness into this movie, but it is certainly there. The Bible says to dwell on whatever is good and to think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy. Your children will remember the things they see and hear. Please protect your kiddos from unnecessary exposure to evil, it’s simply not worth it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
Faith, age 21 (USA)
Negative—I am so disappointed at Christians that would subject their kid(s) to occult views in such a manner as this film. I will never let my kids (I have 4) see a film that has supernatural powers not of God in it. unless God’s Power is truthfully reviled and over comes the evil. think of it this way—Would Jesus Take Children to see such a film? We must wake up and see what the enemy is doing to our families.
Sam McNear
Negative—I really wouldn’t recommend this movie to anyone for at least 3 reasons:

1) Poor Quality—I didn’t think the animation was really all that great. Yes, they had a couple of scenes where the animation was passable even good, but it was jerky in to many places. If you watch the characters as they speak and particularly when they sing… the voice track doesn’t match well. Also the voice inflections often didn’t match the facial expressions very well.

2) Poor Characters—I never really had a lot of sympathy for either Anastasia or Dimitri. They were both rather disagreeable most of the time. I just didn’t feel a lot of sympathy for them.

3) Evil Character—As a Christian, I just can’t believe how much false religion and pure evil was shown. Sure Rasputian was depicted as bad, but he was definitely the one with the most raw power in the film. I would never recommend Christians view a movie for entertainment purposes where a main character sells his soul to the Devil (and even boasts of it)! Don’t see this movie, it’s just not worth the money or sacrificing your values.
William, age 28
Negative—I am curious as to how one could recommend a movie that has a long time dead person with a bat from hell and a bottle full of demons to do his bidding. This was the first time that I viewed your web site (recommended from Bob Yandians site), and as a Christian minister I would definitely not recommend this movie to the people that I minister too. You make comments at the end of the review that say that there were times that you winced. I am assuming that you are an adult. If as an adult you wince then I wonder what that does to say an eight year old. My advise to folks would be BEWARE!!!…
Lynne K. Smith
Negative—While boycotting Disney’s products and movies, I was pleased to see that another film company was releasing an animated tale geared toward children. However, I was very unsettled when I watched this big budget movie with my 6 year old and wife. The occult overtones were very disturbing and seemed to follow up all the “good” scenes that were portrayed. The evil Rasputian has sold hiself to Satan before the title has been shown and though his little vampire bat sidekick was used to relieve the heavy occult tones, the evil it still too much. [Note from Reviewer D. Rettig: “At no point was the bat identified as a vampire bat.”] Even though “good” does triumph over evil in the end,(the “good” here being a strong attitude not God) it is very weak in its presetation. Much like Disney’s evil in the witch in the Little Mermaid, and the scorceror in Aladdin, the intense scenes are very intense. I feel too intense for little minds. I regret seeing this movie.
-JB Kitts
Response from Reviewer D. Rettig:
1) The main thrust of the story was not offensive.
2) The villain was evil, and the depictions of this villain contained references to the occult; however, the historic Rasputin whom the character was based on was a satanist.
3) The villain did contain occult references; however, these occult references were not guised as benefical entities (ala Pocahontas' tree spirits or Phantasia’s Wizard’s Apprentice)—the message was “occult is bad.”
-Dave Rettig
Comments from young people
Positive—I went to go see this movie with my dad and 9 year old sister. On a scale of one to ten, I would give it an 8½. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good, and had very good animation. Some reviewers said that the movie was way-too violent, not recomended for kids under 8 (and even older too!) and should have been rated PG if not PG-13. I’m here to prove otherwise.

Many kids have seen Batman, and Robin the Cartoon, and Power Rangers… it’s not much more than that. Just a little punch here, good vs. evil. There was no blood, no guts, and not one foul word said. All of you reading this have probably seen “The Lion King” right? it’s like the fight with Scar and Simba. Nothin' more. Also in a PG-13 movie there is allowed to be sex, blood, and guts, and lot’s of cussing… now there was absolutely nothing of that sort in this movie… so I’m afraid that reviewer was wrong in her opinion.

Anyway, I thought this was a great movie… good overcomes bad (that always happens right?) And since it is based on a true story, Rasputin really was like that. He put a curse on the family and it “worked”… you know, I think this serves as a lesson for kids, to show that there really are people as evil as that on this Earth, and that God always see’s us through… you know? It also had great songs, and had a cute ending… I recomend it instead of “Flubber”… another diappointing Disney Movie… and give it 2 thumbs up!
Jillian, age 13
Positive—This is a pretty good movie. The songs are short and not very annoying, the plot is good, and the characters are fine. There are some scary scenes, and I know the wizard would have scared me when I was little. At the beginning of the movie, it is stated the wizard “sold his soul’ to destroy the Romanovs, but it isn’t elaborated on. It was kind of unnecessary to have him as an undead villain with evil mist-bat-servant-devil-things, but it isn’t anywhere NEAR as bad as the villain in the Frog Princess, so not too much to worry about. The characters are actually pretty well structured, and seem realistic. I liked Anya’s character well enough, and the rest of them are pretty good too. The animation was very good, as Russians would say. But I’m not Russian, so I’ll just say it’s very good.

The part of the movie I found the best was when Anya was with Dimitri and the other guy, learning how to act like a princess. I think they should have put more of that in, because it was more interesting then when they get to Paris. The movie is funny, and the story ties together pretty well in the end. It mostly makes sense, except for Anya eloping. If I was Anya, I wouldn’t have eloped. I would have had a huge wedding with my grandmother there. If you’re a princess, you might as well.

All in all, this was a good, and pretty enjoyable movie. My brother didn’t like it, but he doesn’t like princess movies in general.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Bernadette, age 15 (Canada)

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