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Anastasia (1956)

An astonishing conspiracy turns into a great love story.

Directed by:

Anatole Litvak

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 100 minutes

UK Certificate: U


Ingrid Bergman stars as Anna Corev, an amnesiac woman who has been released from an asylum in Bucharest and is wandering the streets of Paris in 1928. About to kill herself by throwing herself into the Seine, she is saved by Bounin (Yul Brynner) a Russian general in exile. Bounin is seeking a woman to impersonate Grand Duchess Anastasia, the daughter of the murdered Tsar of Russia who has long been rumoured to have survived the revolution, in order to claim a substantial inheritance. Tired and alone, Anna agrees to let Bounin with his associates Chernov (Akim Tamiroff) and Petrovin (Sascha Pitoeff) train her in the ways of Russian royalty in order to claim the prize.

Anna will have to convince many exiled members of the Russian nobility of her claim, but most are reluctant to accept her even though a few start to believe. It is decided that the most effective way to end the argument once and for all is for Anna to convince the Dowager Empress of Russia (Helen Hayes), but she has seen many girls claiming to be Anastasia and is now refusing to meet any more. Anna and Bounin set out for Copenhagen to seek an audience with her, knowing that she will be hard to convince. But things are becoming more complicated – Bounin is getting increasingly enamoured of his charge, and to confuse him further he is starting to wonder if Anna might not really be Anastasia.

'Anastasia' is a romantic fantasy rather than an accurate historical piece, and on that level it is spectacular. Sumptuous, beautiful to look at and meticulous in its detail, it is an example of very fine filmmaking. However high the production values, it is the cast that carries this film, with outstanding performances all round. Ingrid Bergman shows great depth and quality as Anna, while Yul Brynner is the perfect romantic lead. Nearly fifty years old, the film has hardly dated at all and stands up well to the test of time.

It's Got: Fine performances from all involved. An Oscar for Ingrid Bergman.

It Needs: To be taken as fantasy rather than historical fact.

DVD Extras In the UK, Anastasia is available on a stand-alone budget DVD or as part of a two-disc set with another Ingrid Bergman film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness. Extras: Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 1/10


Doctor Zhivago, Nicholas and Alexandra, Rasputin: The Mad Monk.


Outstanding historical drama that never tries to answer the questions surrounding Anastasia's past but uses them instead to build a fine love story.

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