Friday, October 08, 2010

Tristi Goes on a Russian Rant

Hallo, it is I, Little Ranting Tristi.  You know I can't stay quiet all the time and let Calm, Reasonable Tristi have all the fun.  Once again, it is time for me to speak.

I spent the last week reading The Last Days of the Romanovs: Tragedy at Ekaterinburg. First of all, I have to say, wow.  This was one of the most well-written, well-documented books I've ever read.  It held my interest like fiction, but instead was a powerful piece of nonfiction that I will never forget. It painted pictures in my mind and brought the whole story to life.  It also made me angry with Fox.*

When the movie "Anastasia" first came out, I went to see it with eager anticipation.  I'm not sure if all my blog readers know this, but I've been fascinated with Russia since I was a small child, and I even got to spend two weeks there as a teenager.  My husband and I want to serve a mission there together when our children are grown.  In fact, it was our mutual interest in Russia that brought us together in the first place - he learned to speak Russian in the Air Force. So, of course, when the movie came out, I badly wanted to see it.

What a jumbled mess of hyped-up entertainment and sensationalism.

I knew it ticked me off, but until I read this book, I wasn't aware just how deep my ticked-off-ness would run.  Now I know ... it runs pretty deep.

In the movie, we see Anastasia as a little girl being whisked out of the palace by a little boy as the soldiers come in to take away the family.  She then grows up on the streets, and when a charlatan decides to perpetrate a scam and say that Anastasia survived the assassinations, he finds her and decides to pass her as the princess.  She was in her middle teens when she does this.  It is discovered that she actually is the princess, and all is sunshine and roses.

In actuality, Anastasia was a young lady of seventeen at the time of the assassinations.  She was not a little girl.  The royal family was not taken from the palace by soldiers - Nicholas, the tsar, had renounced his throne some time previously, and the family had been living in solitude in a quiet location far away from the palace.  From there, they were moved into a house in Ekaterinberg, where they lived for a time before they were taken down to the basement and killed.

From there, the bodies were taken out to the forest, where they were buried.  But the burial spot wasn't deep enough, and the assassins went back out the next day, recovered the bodies, and doused them with acid before then setting fire to them.  When they recovered the bodies, they counted each one of them, and none were missing.  This report was taken from the leader of the assassins himself.  These are just some of the inaccuracies of the film - it would take me at least another hour to innumerate them all.

What infuriates me so much is the fact that Fox took this moment in history, completely fictionalized it, marketed it to children (who remember everything they see) and call it the story of Anastasia.  Children are literal.  They now believe that this is the story of Anastasia.  History was not done justice at all.  The bottom line, the almighty dollar, was the motivating force behind the whole thing.

Why not make a nice movie about someone else who didn't know she was a princess, and call it something else?  Then you can throw in any whacky things you want without totally demolishing history.

All I can say is this:  if you're going to make a movie about a real person's life, at least do your audience the courtesy of telling the truth.

*Note:  When I originally posted this blog, I accused Disney of making this film.  One of my friends left a comment and corrected me - it was indeed made by Fox.


Jordan said...

Disney didn't ruin Anastasia—Fox did. Don't know that Disney would do much better, of course.

(Incidentally, it's an adaptation of the 1956 Yul Brenner/Ingrid Bergman film [based on the German woman who seriously thought she was Anastasia]. But the earlier film actually never states whether the character is really Anastasia, and reality is that she was not,, of course.)

Tristi Pinkston said...

What?? Holy cow, you're right! It's not a Disney! I'll go through and change it in a little bit. :)

I'm madder at Fox than I am at the Ingrid Bergman film because we now know so much more than we did when that film was made.

I almost feel like I should apologize to Disney ... but I'm mad at them for plenty of other things, so I think I won't. :)

L.T. Elliot said...

History is such a muddled thing these days. I hate how much is blotted out, flat-out lied about, or glossed over. No, I'm not saying we should inundate our children with cruel fact but we should always be honest. What disrespect for the lives lived to be ignored for the rest of history.

Jennie said...

The story of Anastasia has always fascinated me too and I felt hurt when I learned the old film was fabricated and had little in common with reality. I've no intention of watching the newer one. Rant away! I'm with you on this one. Just as a side note, a few years back our family was blessed with our own Anastasia when a niece and her husband adopted a lovely Russian four-year-old with that name along with four of her siblings.

Sharon Cohen said...

I think we will all be surprised by how little truth was told on this earth - especially the sugar-coating, denying or white washing the many episodes of man's inhumanity to man.

Dan said...

Wow, the true story is too horrible for words. The family wasn't safe, even in the grave. Talk about a nightmare.

Keeley said...

Awesome post, Tristi! That film bugged me to death too. It bugged me so much I was sure that Disney made it as well. Grrr, Disney.

Renae W. Mackley said...

I am wondering if you read this book as background for a future historical novel???
Everyone should learn history from more than one source but I agree that children are so impressionable by one film. If it makes you feel any better, think of the fictionalized version by its story plotline instead of as history. It did make a good story. Oh well.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Renae, I read it just on my own, but I certainly wouldn't be against writing a historical fiction about it.

Dan, it gets even worse than that, but I'll make you read the book if you're curious. :)

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