Tuesday, October 13, 2015

"…You'll learn things you never knew you never knew."

I'm not having the best of days today, so I thought I'd cheer myself up by writing a blog post and watching a good ol' Leverage episode:D

I think I've mentioned this before, but I really love the animated movies Pocahontas and Anastasia.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don't seem to share that affinity.  I think at least part of that is due to the fact that both movies are, speaking from a strict historical standpoint, inaccurate.   And while I have complete respect for the fact that historical accuracy--or lack thereof--has a large bearing on how much many people will enjoy a movie, in some ways I think we can tend to take this too far.  Historical accuracy is a broad spectrum, and it has its place, but when a movie is made "for children" and makes no claim to be a biopic of the historical figures with whom it may or may not deal, shouldn't we be more lenient in our expectations of authenticity?


Anastasia hardly follows the real story of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, but there is such merit in the movie.  

Fabulously animated, with a chillingly beautiful musical score, and sprinkled with a fantastic cast of characters, the story remains respectful of the facts while presenting us with a sparkling, elegant, emotional picture of what the Lost Princess's life could have been, had circumstances been slightly different.  

The film cleverly incorporates historical tenets into the plot.  Rasputin, while he probably did not send hordes of green-bat-demons to derail a train containing Anastasia, was a highly controversial, religiously mystic individual closely connected with the Tsar and his wife.  (Oh, and in case y'all didn't know, he WAS almost as scary in visage as 20th Century Fox decided to animate him.  Seriously.  Go give him a Google if you're seeking insomnia.)  

Aside from that…it's just a dang fine story.


This may make me sound callous and uneducated and dismissive, but frankly, I would rather have a stunning story to an animated movie than the tragic, bleak facts of the history of Anastasia.  Where, if I may be so bold, would the redeeming point of a story be in such a movie, especially as marketed for children?  What would it teach them?  "Hey, kids, be glad you weren't born in Russia, because you just may have been herded into a basement and assassinated by a firing squad."  (I know I'm rambling a bit. Told you I wasn't having the best day.)

In contrast, this gorgeous piece of animation contains universal themes such as home, family, sacrificial love, triumphing over dark spirituality, etc.  And the characters are engaging, likable/dislikable as they're supposed to be, respectively, and you are caught up in the story, the music, the visuals, and the relational and spiritual tension.  Gah, just go watch it, okay?  (But be prepared that it is creepy as heck in some parts.)


As for Pocahontas, one of the makers even stated that they were not attempting to create a historical biography.  The Disney version of Pocahontas is a vibrant, earthy, uplifting painting of, once again, what could have been, not what anyone necessarily thinks was.  

And it's stunning.  The end.  

I guess my point is, is it worth it to dismiss some of the most vivid, amazing animation, glorious music, and compelling drama you're ever going to find in favor of some historical veracity that was never even promised in the first place?  Anastasia and Pocahontas are two of the most beautiful movies I've ever watched, and I've really loved getting to delve deeper into them recently.  I think if we are willing to lay aside our (well-intended) desire for strict historical accuracy in cinema, we'll open up far more movie opportunities (now I'm just getting cheesy).

Just try these movies.  Try them with an open mind, understanding in advance that they are not biopics, and watch them for what they are--just plain amazing films.  I think you'd enjoy them.







35 comments:

  1. Hey Olivia! I'm sorry you're not having the best day. Whatever it's about, I hope it gets better!
    I've never seen Anastasia, but it sounds like a good movie! Pocahontas was one of my favorites when I was little, though. I had the soundtrack on cassette and I wanted to listen to it in the car everrrry morning on the way to school when I was in first grade or so. My poor patient mom ;) I also liked it because there's this family story that we're descended from the *real* Pocahontas... It's probably not true, but it gave Pocahontas a special place in my heart.
    I hope the rest of your day is splendiferous!
    Amanda

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    1. Aww, thank you, Amanda!
      It is, it's a VERY good movie;) Isn't Pocahontas splendid?! The soundtrack is amazing. *gasp* Really?!?! Hey, anything's possible! That's such an awesome story!
      Thank you very much, and right back at you!

      (Oh, by the way, did you take down your blog, or make it private? It's completely fine if you did, I just went to look at it one day and it said the domain was now private, or something like that. I completely understand if you did, but I just wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything:D)

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  2. YES. You're absolutely right here. I'm a history major and *hopefully* on my way to becoming a professional historian, but I agree COMPLETELY that historical accuracy, while very important, is not everything--especially when you're making a children's movie! Myths and legends and stories are powerful and valuable, too, in a different way! Yes, we need to know and understand what REALLY happened, but there's also nothing wrong with taking the general historical outline and making a cool story out of it. Because that is part of the way that societies and peoples express themselves--and that's an important part of "history" too :)

    Oh--you're right about Rasputin. He was a creep. I don't know that he actually commanded demonic spirits, but it wasn't for lack of trying--he was really, really into the "devil-worship" type stuff. Sadly.

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    1. Thank you!!! I'm so glad you agree, Jessica! I was hoping I wouldn't offend anybody with this post…:) Exactly! You've hit the nail on the head there.

      *shudders* RIGHT?! Ick. I mean, I haven't researched him all that well, but…yikes. I do feel rather bad for him:(

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  3. I'm not a big fan of Pocahontas, but it's because of all the worship-mother-earth stuff, not the historical inaccuracies. However, I really love Anastasia and its soundtrack :-) Gorgeous animation and voice work and music and storytelling. In fact, I'm planning to feature its soundtrack in one of my guest reviews before too long!

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    1. Ah, I get that. The naturalism can be very irritating in certain parts. Squeeeee, you're going to do a guest review on Anastasia?!?!?! That makes me so happy!!:D PLEASE make sure to do your usual heads-up post when you do; I REALLY want to read that post;)

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    2. Yup! It's in the works, so should be up in a few weeks. Usually write up several and then James posts them when he needs them, so I don't really have control over when stuff appears.

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    3. Oh, that makes me happy!:D

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  4. Ahhhhhh, I love Anastasia SO MUCH. Ever since I saw it for the first time when I was like...7 or something. I even had my mom write down the lyrics to "Once Upon a December: so I could memorize it.

    Now, as I'm older, I appreciate it even more. The music, the characterization....I'm so glad it's NOT historically accurate because then I probably wouldn't like it as much!
    Aaannd, if it was it'd be on of the most depressing movies ever. ha

    Dimitri isn't historically accurate....but oh, what would this movie BE without him???
    They need to make Anastasia into a Broadway musical. THEY NEED TO. Why don't they???

    -ahem- Calming down.

    Ah yes, Pocahontas. It was never quite a big favorite of mine, but when I re watched it awhile ago I liked it sooo much more. The music, the grand sweeping epic-ness of it, when Pocahontas rescues John Smith.....the ending....sob.

    One of my favorite parts is when she's singing during the reprise of savages...."please don't let it be too laaaaaaattee." Chills. Every. Time.

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    1. YES ISN'T IT THE BEEEEEESSSST!!!! Ahem. I guess we BOTH need to calm down, Natalie;) Yes, it'd be a very bleak movie if it were historically accurate…and DMITRI!!! You're right, WHERE on earth would the story be without Dmitri?!?! *gasp* Yes! They SHOULD! I think both of these stories would make great Broadway musicals, actually; I hadn't thought about Anastasia, but now that you mention it, yes! And I've daydreamed about Pocahontas as a Broadway show;D

      That ending gets me every single time. JUST GAH.

      Girl, you gave me chills just typing that out. I GET SO MANY GOOSEBUMPS LISTENING TO THAT MUSIC.

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    2. Awwwwww I know!!! I will always be a fan of Dimitri....he's just great. And when he comes back at the end..awwww. Wow, I really want to rewatch Anastasia now.

      Haha, well, I hadn't really thought of Pocahontas as a Broadway musical, but I totally agree! These things need to happen. Hopefully in my lifetime. haha

      Oh my, that's so cool you feel the same!! I love it when music gives me chills. It's amazing.

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    3. He's adooooorable, as is their relationship:D I know! The end!

      Haha, why can The Powers That Be in the entertainment world never share our glorious visions, Natalie?? XD

      Yes! It is amazing.

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  5. Olivia, I sorry to hear you're not having the best of days - I hope you feel better soon. I'm really tired myself and kind of down right now, so I totally understand.

    You are right!! If a movie is good, and never promised to be 'historically accurate' in the first place, why can't people just stop FUSSING and appreciate the movie for itself?? I've never seen these movies myself but they look beautiful!

    Ohhh and that gif. Goodness! What LOVELY hair she has!! Just BEAUTIFUL :)

    Thank you! You've cheered me up :)

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    1. Thanks, Rosie!:) Yep, that was basically how I was feeling.

      YES. Exactly, that's the truth. Oh, you should try them. They're beauteous:D

      Doesn't she?!?! To be honest, I think Disney's Pocahontas is one of THE most gorgeous women I've ever seen--animated or otherwise (in a non-creepy way).

      Oh, I did?! Good, I'm so glad:D

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    2. You're welcome! Yeah - I could recognize the signs :)

      I can believe that :D

      Oh yes! I agree! Haha, no, of course not in a creepy way.)

      Yes you did! Thanks! And you might be able to tell from this comment that I'm feeling Way More Chipper than yesterday.

      P.S. That was bad grammar, wasn't it? Oh well :P

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    3. Really? Oh, you're observant! Good for you, haha:D

      Heck, I don't care if it was bad grammar (and I didn't even notice). Your comment was delightful, so thank you:)

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  6. Aw, I hope your day gets better! I haven't seen either of these, but I'd like to some day. I agree that sometimes people can get carried away with historical inaccuracies(although it IS rather hypocritical on my part to say that :D).

    According to Pinterest, Pocahontas is the only Disney princess movie without a happy ending, so I'm just bracing myself!

    I absolutely love your profile picture, by the way!

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    1. Aww, thanks! Yes, you must try them, Meredith!

      Oh, yes, I've seen that picture. Well, m'dear, t'is the truth. It's an AMAZINGLY GAAAAAHHH ending, but it isn't happy.

      Squee, thank you! I do too;)

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  7. I'm really not one for animated movies (I just can't get into them! I don't know why!) but these look like one of the better ones. :-D I hope your day gets/got better! :-)

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    1. I think you might like Anastasia especially, Naomi. I'm not entirely sure why, but it just seems to be kind of like "your" kind of movie;D Thank you!

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    2. Really? Well, maybe. Still, I don't think I'll ever love animated movies as much as you. :-)

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  8. I really don't think a children's movie needs to be historically correct to be good.

    Pocahontas is one of my favourite movies because the story is a bit more mature, and of course the animation is gorgeous! And the ending!!

    I'll admit I'm not really into the Anastasia movie - but that has nothing to do with the plot, that's simply because I was deeply traumatised by Rasputin and those green demons.

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    1. No, indeed!

      THE ENDING IS SO AMAZING!!!! That track, "Farewell," is one of the most gorgeous music EVERRRRR.

      I was deeply traumatized by Rasputin, too, and kind of still am. He's ridiculously scary.

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  9. I absolutely ADORE Anastasia. I only recently watched it for the first time, and it was so pretty!! The songs are beautiful, the animation is stunning, and the story of Anya and Dimitri is one of the most healthy romances in a cartoon I've ever seen. I seriously love that movie. :)

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    1. Isn't it beautiful, Laura?! Feeeeeeeels. Anya + Dmitiri = <3 <3 <3

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  11. I love both of these movies! If Anastasia was historically accurate it would definitely not be a kids movie! The movie was based on the possible conspiracy that Anastasia may have survived and on the Anna Anderson hoax (only the movie had a happier ending) and the animated film was probably inspired by the 1956 film, Anastasia (with Ingrid Bergman and Yul Bryner) that was about the Anna Anderson story. I love anything regarding royals and the Romanov family was the first royal family I became interested in and it was due to the animated Anastasia film : )

    Pocahontas is one of the best Disney movies ever!! And actually, Pocahontas is more accurate than people think, they just mixed certain events for easier story flow. What I can't get is that people have a problem with the Animism worship of the earth and spirits, but wouldn't that be considered historically accurate because that was what the Powhatan Indians worshiped? How could they worship a monotheistic god they knew nothing about? So I actually give Disney points for the religious accuracy in Pocahontas.

    Even the sequel was accurate in the fact that she ended up with John Rolfe instead of John Smith. The reason I'm so defensive of this movie is because I'm from Virginia, only a few hours away from the original Jamestown settlement, so I grew up learning about the history on Pocahontas and her legacy.

    Have you ever seen The New World with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale? It is so good!! I cry at the end every single time...

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    1. Yes! Ah, yes, I thought so. But I didn't know about the Ingrid Bergman/Yul Brynner movie! I wanna see that now…

      It's amazing! Yes, I understand why people would be upset about the animism, but, like you said, it IS accurate, sad though it is.

      I know! I actually like the sequel, I'll admit;) That's such a neat story!

      I haven't seen The New World, but my siblings have. They didn't like it, hehe, but maybe I should give it a try...

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  12. I love the music in Pocahontas! I like the movie as well. (I'm not really irritated by it's 'inaccuracies'.) But I think the main reason I love the movie is for the music. It's amazing. It is the best music to write to in my opinion. It's cool how the last song, "Farewell", can be listened to and you can feel either happy or sad. It's beautiful!

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I'm sorry it took me so long to leave a nice comment on your blog. :) Hope you are having a better day!

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    1. Oh, mah heavens above--THE MUSIC. It is STUNNING, isn't it, Cordy? I really love that last track, "Farewell." So. Ridiculously. Good.

      Of course! And thank YOU for visiting mine!:D

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    2. I also like what I call Her Mother's Theme. It's always mixed in under another name so I hope you understand what I'm talking about. It the music that plays when we first see Pocahontas as well as when her father decides not to kill John. Basically, when the leaves start to blow and swirl...which I love to watch as well! It's incredible!

      I suppose I have something of a blog stalker personality as well. But at least I'm in good company. ;)

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