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Headscratchers: Anastasia
  • How did Rasputin sell his own soul for a substitute?
    • It just doesn't make sense. Its not a Soul Jar, it literally is what his soul was exchanged for. According to the movie's logic, his life and very existence now depend on it's existence. If his reliquary is destroyed, he ceases to exist. I understand every writer is different and their interpretation varies, BUT HOW can a person's soul, i.e. the eternal incorporeal part of you, can be both simultaneously transplanted and substituted, for something that's not a soul?
    • The ontology of this baffles me. That's like switching your soul, your very essence and being, for a lava lamp! HOW does that work!?
    • This never occurred to me. I was more like, why are there dancing bugs? This is embarrassing. Anyway, does it help at all to think of it like a horcrux. Like, there is some part of him still in his body but when he sold his soul, the greater part of it was transformed into a more magical version of a soul. A version that can send weird ghost demon astral projections out into the world.
    • I always thought that this was a Deal with the Devil-type situation. I.e. the deal was that he traded his soul to Satan or some other reigning evil being for the reliquary. So when it's destroyed, the deal is up, and his soul is destroyed.
  • How did Rasputin's corpse end up in Limbo? Yeah, his body can still die, but he just ends up undead. So why isn't he still at the bottom of the frozen lake?
  • What was the deal with place Rasputin went to when he died? Was it actually inside the Earth? Was it another dimension?
    • It was the center of the earth without doubt. Why? Er...because the Kool-Aid Man is red?
    • It was limbo. Rasputin went there because he couldn't die properly until he had killed every one of the Romanovs as a part of the deal he made with "the dark forces".
    • Okay. So why is Limbo full of singing bugs? I mean, it would make some sort of sense if they were realistically-sized insects infesting Rasputin's rotting body, but they're not. They're bat-sized... things... that just happen to hang around between Earth and Hell. What are they doing there?
      • Singing and dancing.
      • It might not explain much, but if I recall correctly the bugs only rise from the ground when Rasputin starts using his reliquary, suggesting he may have created/summoned/attracted them with his magic. Why he would do that is another question entirely.
  • Okay, let's move all the historical inaccuracies aside and assume that this is some kind of alternate universe. But the train station scene in the beginning... Who the heck would call an eight-year-old girl Anastasia in an informal situation? Yes, on some kind of ceremony, she would be referred to as Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanova, but here, in the fray, she would just be Nastya.
    • Convenience for the western audience no doubt. This troper had no idea that "Nastya" was the informal version of "Anastasia" and she doubts that many children who see the movie would, either.
  • In the orphanage Anastasia was taken to, wouldn't they have taken that shiny gold necklace away from her? In that time period I doubt she would've been allowed to keep it considering how douchey most orphanage directors were back then.
    • Do you really think all orphanage directors were jerks? Bad is usually more memorable. Good is easily forgotten, unfortunately. There is a difference between gruff and being a jerk. If you want to look at it more cynically, though, the necklace probably wasn't worth much (it is inscribed and not exactly decorative). Its not like the director is going to easily find a buyer in the Communist Soviet Union that would make it worth causing a scene in the orphanage. Why cause yourself a headache for almost no gain? Remember, Dmitri bought a really nice coat for only 1 ruble. How much do you think a tiny piece of junk is going to go for even if it is gold?
  • A little girl who looks exactly like Anastasia Romanova is found dazed and confused at a train station and NO ONE figures out who she is? She actually tells Dmitri "I was found wandering around when I was eight years old." That and seeing how many people were at the train station, how many people could have heard the Dowager Empress's cry of "ANASTASIA!" Seriously, how did nobody realize who she was?!
    • If I saw that, I would say, "You know, she looks so much like Princess Anastasia. Weird, Huh?" not, "That must be Anastasia." No one really expects anything interesting to happen to them.
    • Well, everyone was kind of busy: Either getting the hell out of Russia or getting the good loot while it was still around, depending on what side you were on. Not to mention all the other yelling, the sounds of the train station...
    • Additionally, Anastasia was a popular name for Russian girls born around Easter, meaning "she who will rise again." It would be like hearing someone shout "Harry!" in a train station in England — you wouldn't assume they were calling for the prince. Or for the Chosen One, for that matter.
    • Old train stations can be noisy if millions of people are trying to get out of there. Plus, the Dowager Empress didn't say 'GRAND DUCHESS ANASTASIA'! She just pronounced a name, for Rasputin's sake! AND there was no TV, the pictures were black and white, and most of the population didn't have access to even read a newspaper, so yeah...
    • Even assuming those who found her knew she was really the Grand Duchess, they probably didn't want to send her to her death and just ignored the fact.
    • Besides the necklace, which really doesn't prove anything, there is just a little girl wandering around some small town, they probably didn't have any reason to think she was Anastasia.
  • So, if Rasputin needs to kill off all the Romanovs to fulfill the curse, why is the Dowager Empress apparently exempt?
    • ... Senior's discount?
    • Or possibly it's because she's only a Romanov by marriage.
    • ...And her biological clock stopped a long time ago.
    • I think Rasputin meant people who were descended from the current Czar's line, and the Dowager Empress was his mother, so she wouldn't qualify.
    • Exactly. He specifies "the end of the Romanov line". Empress Marie wasn't of the line, so even if she'd still been young enough to have more kids later, none of them would have counted.
  • Why does Anastasia's hair change length throughout the film? During the "Anya" scenes, while some of it is tied up, there is clearly a loose portion in the back that's about shoulder-length. Then, from the scene on the ship onwards, it's suddenly waist-length. That never made sense to me.
    • Clip-in extensions?
    • I think it was trying to show the passage of time. The "You Can Learn To Do It" sequence could have taken long enough for her hair to have grown out to waist-length. Her ponytail is arguably longer at the end of that sequence.
    • I have hair that goes past my waist, but when it's clipped up properly, it barely brushes the base of my neck. Totally possible that her hair grew out, but was kept in place with hair clips. Or bobby pins, or whatever she used.
    • Actually, if you look closely, the ponytail seems to be secured by a braid rather than a hair clip. So she could be braiding a good bit of it and wrapping it around.
      • That's pretty much it. I've done that hairstyle myself, when mine was long. From the look of it, she twisted it, pulled it up, and literally tied it in a knot, which is where the short bit of ponytail comes from. It's a convenient way to put it up without needing hairpins or anything, which a poor Russian orphan probably wouldn't have had access to.
    • When I was younger I had an Anastasia doll which had hair you could make longer or shorter. So I guess she grows her hair by turning a dial on her back. Or maybe not...
  • Vlad. Even though he is a genuinely nice guy, he was in on the plot to get the Dowager Empress's reward money. I find it rather funny that he is willing to deceive his "cream puff" whom he clearly loves very much. When Anastasia finds out about the con, Dmitri gets all the blame, but Vlad doesn't even get a mention. The next time he is seen, he's dressing up fancy for the party celebrating Anastasia's reunion with her grandmother. Talk about getting off the hook real easy.
    • Puts another dimension onto his character, doesn't it? He's an aristocrat turned con artist who is boning the Dowager Empress's cousin/assistant. With those connections and experience, it would be easy for him to weasel out of any tight situation.
      • This. He explicitly tells Anastasia that he was a member of the Imperial court. The Empress probably knew him. Maybe she figured he'd been caught up in the swindling plot not for money, but for a way to escape Russia.
      • That was probably part of their plan all along, actually. Given his former position in the court, he was hoping that he could lend credence to their claim that Anya was the princess, and that his word would be enough to help assuage any doubts the Dowager had.
    • I actually thought he was gay, and that his relationship with Sophie was just one of the usual super-flirtatious gay-guy straight-lady friendships that were pretty typical around that point in time. This is totally irrelevant, I know.
  • The movie begins in 1916, and you soon skip ahead ten years to 1926. St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad in 1924.
    • Probably either because St. Petersburg sounded better in the musical numbers or they didn't want to go too much into the Soviet thing.
      • Actually St. Petersburg was renamed Petrograd in 1914 and Petrograd was renamed Leningrad in 1924. It wasn't even accurate in 1916. Other than that, spot on.
    • The movie was made for kids who wouldn't know that bit of history and would be confused if the names were suddenly changed.
  • Why doesn't the Grand Duchess just get a morganatic marriage with Dimitri? The Dowager Empress seems to like him well enough, and she seems to really want to keep Anastasia in her life. I don't imagine that there'd be any other problems, considering that the half-breed peasant-spawn won't be corrupting the inheritance pool. And that's assuming that Anastasia isn't herself the Pretender/Head of House (I'm not that familiar with Russian inheritance law), in which case she could do whatever the fudge she wants. I mean, yeah, it makes sense that Bluth wants to go the heartwarming "love over money" route, but the contrived stuff has to make sense at least. It's probably silly trying to apply logic and aristocratic house law to a movie that attributes the Russian Revolution to a demonic curse. I'm still curious as to whether there's a way to resolve it.
    • Anastasia wouldn't inherit the Russian throne even if by some impossible miracle the Romanovs were restored — the inheritance law was male-only, and a male line of succession from Alexander II existed (and exists to this day) even despite the deaths of Nicholas II and his family. So no, neither she nor the Dowager Empress would be in the position to change the rules. That being said, the movie-verse is already far enough removed from anything resembling real history that anything can happen there.
    • Anya/Anastasia had also gotten used to 'peasant life'. She chose to leave the title behind because it wasn't her world anymore.
    • Is this troper the only one who realizes that any chance of Anastasia trying to regain the throne will result in Stalin and the Communists sending her to the firing squad or gulag?
  • Dimitri realised that Anastasia was the real thing when she remembered how she had escaped from the palace. Why hadn't he told her this? When he said in the song that only he and Vlad could pull off the scam, I thought he was referring to the fact that they could provide extra details that other fakes couldn't. So, surely, such a piece of information - known only by him, the Dowager Empress, and Anastasia - would be invaluable? Maybe he just forgot to tell her, but when the entire point was to be convincing, that seems like a pretty stupid thing to forget.
    • He was knocked out right after their escape and fell pretty dramatically, I think we were meant to assume that he also had memory loss, due to the head trauma.
      • And when she said what had happened it jogged his memory? That does make a lot of sense, but it could have been made clearer (unless I just wasn't paying enough attention).
      • Also, this troper thinks it wasn't a question of memory, but of belief. At the beginning, Dimitri is only concerned with presentation; he and Vlad have extra info, yes, but that generally entails how to act the part as well as facts (as shown in "Learn to Do It"). He may really not have thought that "How did we escape?" would even come up as a question, and up until Anya remembers, he still doesn't believe that she's the real thing. Once she does, guilt kicks in.
      • I don't he was ever shows guilt over wanting to scam the Empress so that wouldn't be the reason for him not to tell Anya she was the lost Duchess. He had however fallen in love with a girl that had just become unattainable for him. He may have not wanted to lose her and in the process didn't act in her best interests.
    • Perhaps its one of those little details that was forgotten? Dimitri and Vlad were essentially teaching Anya everything about Anastasia/her former life, and in all the details and weeks/months that it took to do this, Dimitri forgot to include that part in his teachings.
      • There's also how Dmitri had a visible Oh Crap moment when Sophie asked the "how did you escape" question. He forgot to tell Anya about the escape, or he had forgotten to tell her how they escaped.
    • I don't believe he sustained any memory loss but I do think it slipped his mind as part of "important information about Anastasia." There are two things to consider. He hasn't been working on this for his entire life. It's not like every day in the palace he was taking notes so he could one day scam the dowager empress with a fake Anastasia. Secondly, this is just one moment in his life. It feels really significant and like something he should remember because it feels significant in the context of the movie and we don't see anything else from his life. It's like in a mystery where everything seems more obvious because most of the things we're being presented with are clues and possible suspects.
    • I always thought he didn't tell her afterwards because it would raise awkward questions. Anya doesn't know that in their minds she's just a girl they're teaching to act like Anastasia. She thinks they think she's the real thing. If Dimitri said to her then it would probably involve admitting that the whole thing was a scam. Another issue - he might not have remembered the escape at all. When he and Vlad were planning on using facts no one else would know, he might have been banking on Vlad's information as a former member of the court and his memory from working in the kitchens. I.e. they could tell their potential Anastasia details about the palace that only someone who had been inside it could remember. Only nobles and the gentry were ever inside the palace - common peasants wouldn't know what it was like in its heyday. Dimitri frequently wandered out of the kitchens and got to see more than a servant would. And also remember he witnessed Rasputin cursing the family. If it was needed, he could describe to Anya what happened (or what he remembers) in the hopes that it would sound like her remembering it for real. There's plenty of other information for him to be banking on. He just might not have remembered the escape until Anya describes it.
  • Was there any particular reason that Bartok had liver spots? He's clearly meant to be cute, in kind of an ugly way, but still cute. Are they supposed to show he's an exceptionally old bat? Well, then, why is he so old?
    • What liver spots? You're sure what you saw weren't just some random marks in his fur?
  • Why do those insects keep tormenting Bartok throughout the song "In the Dark of the Night"? I mean, at the beginning of the song they seemed pretty mad at him for some reason, but during the rest of the song they sure seem to have it out for him, always trying to harm him whenever they can get near him. What do they have against him?
    • Rule of Funny, or if you really want to argue it, they had grown fond of Rasputin in his time being there and thus became jealous of Bartok?
  • Dmitri knows that Anastasia got out of the castle with her grandmother but somewhere along the way got lost, so he knew that there was a chance she was still alive. He then meets an orphan girl who looks a lot like Anastasia, who is the same age as Anastasia would be, who has no memory from before she was eight, the exact age Anastasia was when she disappeared, who has a locket telling her she has family in Paris, just like Anastasia does, and the locket is real gold, which the average child would not have because the vast majority of Russians during the Revolution were dirt poor...and it never occurs to him that Anya might in fact be Anastasia?
    • In one of the songs, after realising the truth, he sings "Princess, I've found you at last". Since we didn't see him doing any searching for the actual Anastasia, it can be inferred that he used to think about her, hoping to see her alive, maybe even doing a bit of searching... but it's been a long time, so after a while he probably convinced himself that she was dead, and he had to move on. By the time we meet him, he's hardened himself to the point where he won't let his hopes be raised until he cannot deny it; this could even be part of why he chose to try the scam, an attempt to prove to himself that he really, truly believed the real Anastasia was gone. This is speculation, I know, but it makes sense to me.
  • What on Earth were clearly-marked explosives doing on a passenger train?
    • Dynamite was first invented for use in construction. Presumably whoever had it on the train was bringing it somewhere for industrial purposes. There weren't any people in the baggage car so no reason to be worried.
  • What would have happened to Rasputin if he had killed Anastasia? If he's stuck in limbo because the Romanov line wasn't ended, wouldn't that mean he'd die for real if the curse was fulfilled? And considering that he sold his soul, wouldn't that technically mean that he spent the whole movie unwittingly hurrying his trip to Hell?
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