Anastasia: The Mystery Is Over, But the Songs Go On
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia was the youngest daughter of Russia's last Tsar, Nicholas II. During her father's reign, her life was rife with scandal due to the association between the royal family and Grigori Rasputin.
Romanov Collection, General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University
By all accounts, the relationship that Rasputin had with the young duchesses was a warm and innocent one. They often wrote each other, and the girls were visibly upset upon hearing that he had been murdered. Nonetheless, there was a great deal of nasty propaganda that accused the Empress and her daughters of having sexual relationships with the Mad Monk.
In 1917, Russia entered the Bolshevik Revolution, in which Anastasia and her entire family were captured and later executed. Despite reports to the contrary, it was rumored that Anastasia had somehow survived.
In the early 1920s, a woman named Anna Anderson started wandering around saying she was Anastasia. Even though she wasn't even Russian -- to be fair, there wasn't actually a whole lot of real Russian blood left in the dynasty by this point -- Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for playing Anderson in a 1956 film.
Various other charlatans have capitalized on the mystery over the years because the Soviet Union wouldn't tell anyone where the royal family had been buried. Finally, on this day in 2008, remains that had been unearthed near Ekaterinburg, Russia, were confirmed through DNA testing to be those of the long-lost princess.
So a million Disney-esque dreams were shattered, and pretty much everyone who ever claimed to be Anastasia was lying or mentally ill. Nonetheless, for almost 100 years she was an enduring figure of mystery, and in her honor I dedicated this week's playlist to her.Liz Callaway, "Once Upon a December": I've never liked the 1997 animated film Anastasia, despite being an advocate for all things Don Bluth. I'm a big fan of Rasputin's and the idea that he was somehow a bad guy during the murder of the princess's family is laughable. Still, the soundtrack has stood the test of time.
Voltaire, "Anastasia": According to one fan who asked Voltaire about the meaning of this song, it is indeed inspired by the Russian princess, but written from the perspective of a dead father in the afterlife sadly waiting for his still-living daughter. Whether or not that's Voltaire's real meaning, or just something the poster made up, is open to opinion, but it's definitely an interpretation that could fit.