Bergman's Return from Exile

Ingrid Bergman and Yul Brynner in Anastasia (1956)

When during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1918 Czar Nicholas II was executed it was said his entire family was also executed meaning there would be no heirs to the fortune, But a group of Russian exiles lead by General Bounine (Yul Brynner) track down refugee Anna Anderson (Ingrid Bergman) to turn her in to the rumoured sole survivor of the execution Grand Duchess Anastasia. As Bounine sets to work transforming Anna in to Anastasia he becomes to wonder whether she is the real Anastasia whilst Anna has to face Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna (Helen Hayes) when it comes to proving who she is.

Ingrid Bergman had taken some time out of Hollywood before making "Anastasia", she was still making movies but not in Hollywood. Some say her exile was due to an affair some suggest at other reasons, for what ever the reason her return to Hollywood" with "Anastasia" was of course warmly welcomed by her fans and even 60 years later her fans are still enchanted by her return from exile.

The thing is that for me I have never been truly blown away by Ingrid Bergman and when you take the fan power out of this movie what you have left is a solid but incredibly stagy retelling of "Anastasia" with far too many set piece scenes in rooms rather than the more naturalistic outside scenes. I don't what the percentage is but I wouldn't be surprised if 95% of this movie was filmed on sound stages with many a street scene recreated in a studio. Whilst some movies benefit from the recreation of the outside world on a stage for me "Anastasia" doesn't/

In fairness "Anastasia" is not a bad movie as it serves up a slice of glamour mixed with drama and romance as well as having an appealing cast. But for me I just felt like it was too manufactured and for me that robbed the story of some of its power as the production felt like it was taking precedence over the story.

What this all boils down to is that "Anastasia" will certainly appeal to some audiences but for me this was one of those older movies where the production ends up over powering the storyline and unfortunately the production feels incredibly staged.

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