For once, I will be reviewing an animated movie that isn’t Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks but Fox Animation Studios. Although, technically Disney did buy Fox so I guess technically this is Disney’s property…but anyway, Anastasia is an animated classic directed by Don Bluth and Gary Goldman that I grew up watching and still continue to do so. One thing to note before I get into the review, while this movie does portray aspects of Russian history, the story isn’t based off of some historic event – so no, there wasn’t actually an evil sorcerer devoting his life to destroy a family line. Still, we get to explore a setting other than America which is always fun to see, and this movie’s got tons of amazing songs, beautiful animation, and a fairy tale story we can all enjoy.

I’m sure many of you were surprised to learn this movie wasn’t created by Disney because it does center around a princess. I have to admit, it does check off a lot of classic Disney princess criteria: young girl facing a dilemma? Check. Dead parents? Check. Handsome love interest? Check. Evil villain whose sole purpose in life is to seek revenge? Double check. While the plot is somewhat generic and does end in the usual happily ever after for the princess, I do like that it’s the result of Anya (the main character) rejecting her princess identity. I’ve always loved that this movie focuses more on Anya trying to discover who she is and who she wants to be as a person. In the end, there’s something quite pure about how she realizes what she desires isn’t being a princess, but knowing who she is and where she belongs is enough for her.

I really enjoyed this theme of family and identity and getting to join Anya’s journey in discovering them. It made the movie feel more personal and less like a grand, princess movie. The themes are actually quite mature so this is a good watch for adults as well. I’m sure many of the messages in this movie about self discovery will hit close to home for people, making the characters so much more relatable in their struggles. 

As always, given that this movie is an animated one, I HAVE to comment on the artwork. The animation in this movie is so stunning and beautiful, and that’s largely thanks to the beauty that comes with hand-drawn art. I’ve always loved old school, hand-drawn animation styles (I’ve mentioned it before here) because it creates a smoothness and softness that animations nowadays can’t recreate. That’s why it’s always nice revisiting classics – you get to enjoy these wonderful animations.

Backed by the amazing vocals of Liz Callaway, this movie also has some incredible music. The songs are all very catchy and I particularly love “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon a December” (both which are sung by Anya). While they’re nice to listen to, they also provide a lot of personality to Anya’s character and they give us insight into what her goals are, what she wants, and what her history is. I appreciate that the music is there for a reason and adds to the character’s backstory. 

If you’re wanting to watch an animation that has that classic feel and is a bit unique, look no further! This movie is full of heart, good music, all supported by a fun and touching story. I give Anastasia a 7.5/10. While it does contain typical princess movie elements, it really does go beyond to explore some deeper topics. It’s a movie that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, so this is a great family movie if you’re looking for one!