review for Anastasia on AllMovie

Anastasia (1956)
by Michael Betzold review

The classic treatment of the popular story of Princess Anastasia is this 1956 Hollywood version by Soviet-born director Anatole Litvak, based on a play by Marcelle Maurette. The lustrous Ingrid Bergman won her second Academy Award for her finely modulated portrayal of an amnesia victim who is manipulated by an exiled Russian White general (Yul Brynner) into posing as the long-lost daughter of the late Czar Nicholas. Anastasia marked Bergman's Hollywood comeback from her own exile in Europe following an overplayed personal scandal with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. The skeptical Russian Grand Duchess is played by the reliable Helen Hayes. Highly theatrical in its structure, this Anastasia is slick and entertaining, if not particularly attentive to historical nuances. Litvak uses his own experiences of fleeing both Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union to fashion a thoughtful, sophisticated study about the intertwining of political and personal deception. After Bergman's exquisite portrayal, the character of Anastasia was fated to decline, through it was later attempted by Amy Irving in 1986 and in a Don Bluth animated version in 1997.