Anastasia (1956) starring Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brinner, Helen Hayes
Synopsis of Anastasia
Russian exiles in Paris plot to collect ten million pounds from the Bank of England by grooming a destitute, suicidal girl to pose as heir to the Russian throne. While Bounin is coaching her he comes to believe she is really Anastasia. In the end, the Empress must decide her claim.
Cast of characters in Anastasia
- Anna Koreff (Ingrid Bergman, Casablanca, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness). The woman with a strong resemblance to the dead Anastasia. She has a history of mental illness, conflicting memories, and a longing desire to know who she is. And she somehow knows things that Anastasia would know …
- General Sergei Pavlovich Bounine (Yul Brynner, The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven). A Russian General who knew the royal family, including Anastasia. However, he’s simply using Anna in a bid to get the fortune that Anastasia owns. At first …
- Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Helen Hayes, A Farewell to Arms, Airport). The last surviving member of the Russian royal family. If she accepts Anna as her granddaughter, that’s all the proof that Anna needs. But the Dowager Empress isn’t easily convinced, or even interested in meeting the assumed imposter.
- Boris Adreivich Chernov (Akim Tamiroff, Me and the Colonel, Black Magic). One of Bounine’s co-conspirators. A man in it solely for the money, unlike Bounine.
- Piotr Ivanovich Petrovin (Sacha Pitoëff, Last Year at Marienbad). The third co-conspirator.
- Prince Paul von Haraldberg (Ivan Desny, The Marriage of Maria Braun). The opportunistic, fortune-hunting aristocrat, who admits to Anna that he wouldn’t be interested in her were she not royalty.
Review of Anastasia
First, it should be pointed out that Ingrid Bergman won the Oscar for her portrayal of Anna Koreff/Anastasia. It should also be pointed out that she richly deserved it. Her portrayal of the woman — initially confused, wanting to escape, even suicidal — is wonderful to watch. The audience sympathizes with her, as Bounine tries to mold her into the image of Anastasia, since she truly doesn’t care about the money. She simply wants to know who she is, and find the family that she lost.
Yul Brinner also does a wonderful job as the White Russian General, who at first is only interested in the money that Anastasia has access to. But as time goes on, and he spends more time with Anna, he begins to see her as a person, and not just a tool to be used. He even becomes jealous when she’s engaged to Prince Paul. It’s almost as though he’s caring for her …
The central scene in the drama happens when Anna meets the Dowager Empress, played wonderfully by Helen Hayes. The Empress has no reason to believe that this young woman is any different from the other imposters over the years. The scene is absolutely riveting, as Anna is losing all hope of establishing an emotional connection with the woman that she believes to be her only living relative. Until she starts coughing from nervousness …
In short, Anastasia is a wonderful movie, with great performances and characters that the audience legitimately cares about. It’s highly recommended, and I rate it 4.5 stars out of 5.
Editorial review of Anastasia courtesy of Amazon.com
Ingrid Bergman gives one of her memorable, haunting, and haunted performances as an amnesiac chosen by a White Russian general (Yul Brynner) in 1928 to play the part of Anastasia, the long-rumored but missing survivor of the Bolsheviks’ murderous attack on the czar’s family. The twist is that Bergman’s mystery woman seems to know more about the lost Anastasia than she is told. Based on the play by Marcelle Maurette and Guy Bolton, this film–directed by Anatole Litvak (Out of the Fog)–really does get under one’s skin, not least of all because of its intriguing story but even more because of the strong chemistry between Bergman and Brynner. –Tom Keogh
The historical drama Anastasia (1956) tells the tale of a damaged amnesiac (Ingrid Bergman, an Oscar®-winner for her performance) who may or may not be the lost Romanoff princess, Anastasia. She becomes the accomplice (willing or not?) of a charming White Russian general (Yul Brynner) in a plot to swindle a boatload of money out of the grieving Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna (Helen Hayes). At stake: not just money, but the putative Anastasia’s emotional sanity. Directed by Anatole Litvak, produced by Buddy Adler, and featuring a stunning score by Alfred Newman