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Cherry Pop

'Anastasia - The Mysteries of Anna'
(Amy Irving, Rex Harrison, Olivia de Havilland, Omar Sharif, Susan Lucci, Christian Bale, et al / DVD / NR / 2019 / Mill Creek Entertainment)

Overview: In July of 1918, the Bolsheviks shot Russian Czar Nicholas II, his wife and their five children during the Russian Revolution.

So begins the epic saga of Anna Anderson, the woman who claimed until the day she died in 1984 that she was truly Grand Duchess Anastasia, the youngest child of Czar Nicholas II and sole survivor of the family's execution.

Her story became one of the greatest romantic mysteries of the twentieth century.

This breathtaking adaptation of Anna's journey is also a depiction of a lost era, from her days of Russian royalty, her flight from execution and her years of struggle to reclaim her royal heritage.

Amy Irving leads a luminary cast in this spectacular drama filled with triumph, tragedy, mystery and hope.

DVD Verdict: This is a richly produced, atmospheric telling of the Anastasia legend set against the time of the Russian revolution.

It has the look of an authentic, handsome movie of the kind made during the golden age of Hollywood.

In the title role, Amy Irving gives what is probably one of the finest performances of her career.

Others around her are equally impressive: Rex Harrison, Olivia de Havilland, Claire Bloom, Omar Shariff, Jan Niklas and Susan Lucci.

The epic story begins with the start of the revolution and the exile of the family of Nicolas and Alexandra.

After fleeing execution, the story follows Anastasia's years of struggle to regain her royal heritage - and the opposition of forces around her who call her an imposter.

In truth, it was probably watching this TV movie that got me interested in the debate as to whether "Anna" was really Tsar Nicholas's daughter Anastasia.

Since seeing it I have made a point of watching various documentaries and also bought a book. Despite the evidence that has been discovered since the film was released, I sometimes still think she was.

Such is the power of Amy Irving's acting in this 2-parter which is somewhat liberal with the historical facts, but packed to the brim with tear-jerking drama and Irving's totally convincing performance.

I was not consciously aware of Irving before this, though I must have seen her without realizing it in 'Carrie' (another favorite film of mine).

In 'Anastasia' I never felt for one moment that it was only a film or a TV movie. For me this woman WAS Anastasia, and when the first part ended with her in the railway carriage meeting members of the royal family, I knew that come hell or high water I had to see the second part.

I just wanted to see how she would prove that she was who she claimed to be, and as the story progressed I felt an intense hatred of Rex Harrison's character; though I greatly admire him as an actor, of course.

In closing, winner of two Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards and much acclaim from critics and public upon its video showing in 1986, 'Anastasia - The Mysteries of Anna' I for one will always believe that HIH Anastasia Nicolevna Romanova and Anna Anderson were indeed the same person; and I will never be swayed to the contrary! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.