Anastasia vs Acculturation

This week I will be talking about the film Anastasia and Berry’s Two-Dimensional Model of the Acculturation Process.


Anastasia is based (extremely loosely to the point where it’s completely made up) on the story of the lost Princess Anastasia and her journey to find her beloved Grandmama (the Dowager Empress Marie).  Anastasia lost her sisters, mother, brother, and father (the Czar of Russia) to a curse that the villain Rasputin put on her family.  Rasputin sold his soul in order to have the power to kill all of Czar Nicholas’s family.  Thus, leading to everyone dying except for Anastasia and her Grandmama.  Anastasia and her Grandmama got away due to a servant boy (Dimitri) taking them through the servant’s passage.  However, while attempting to board a train, Anastasia fell and became separated from her Grandmother.  Anastasia lost her childhood memories and grew up in an orphanage outside of St. Petersburg with only a necklace with the words “together in Paris” (Anastasia).  Meanwhile, the Dowager Empress went back to Paris, France and put out an award to whoever could find her granddaughter.  Dimitri (the servant who saved Anastasia’s life), along with his friend and former royal Vladimir attempt to “find” the princess and collect the reward money.  However, they could have never guessed that the orphaned girl Ana is the true lost princess.


Berry’s Two-Dimensional Model of the Acculturation process has four possible outcomes.

  1. Assimilation – movement toward the dominant group
  2. Integration – synthesis of two cultures
  3. Rejection – reaffirmation of the traditional culture
  4. Marginalization – alienation from both cultures (Lecture)

Within Anastasia, there are four characters that fit into each of the four outcomes.  Anastasia fits within the Assimilation outcome.  If we exclude her life before she loses her memories, then she is nothing but a poor orphaned girl from the outskirts of the city.  She is not a part of the main culture which in this case is the aristocracy.  We see her in an old tattered dress that looks far too large for her.  However, when she meets Dimitri and Vlad they begin to turn her into a princess.  She starts to remember things about her life before the revolution and she becomes more assimilated into the main culture.


Vladimir fits into the integration outcome.    He was once part of the royal aristocracy.  He maintains friendships with Sophie, a friend of the Dowager Empress.  He also fits in Dimitri’s world of the working class culture.  He also lost everything during the revolution and yet throughout the film, he is accepted into both cultures.


Dimitri is in the rejection outcome.  He rejects the aristocracy culture and only uses it as a means to an end.  From the beginning, he has been a part of the working class culture.  At first, the only reason he wants to find Anastasia is for the money.  He is willing to scam the Dowager Empress because he is not a part of her world.  Even when he falls in love with Anastasia, he still rejects becoming a part of the dominant culture.  He rejects being with Anastasia because she is above him in class status and he knows he can’t be a part of that culture.  At the end of the film, although it is a happy ending, Dimitri goes off with Anastasia, not to the palace but away from the aristocracy.


Finally, we have Rasputin, who fits into the marginalized outcome.  Rasputin was thought to be a great holy man.  However, when it was discovered that he was not, he was banished from the aristocracy.  He also became alienated from the traditional culture because he literally sold his soul to curse the Romanovs.  He became something that every culture rejected.


Realizing that there are characters portrayed in different outcomes of the acculturation process is important because it tells audiences that some people are better than others  based on whether they fit into the dominant culture.  This is definitely not a good thing because it tells kids that they don’t have to treat everyone with the same amount of respect as they would with someone that is like them.

Anastasia. By Don Bluth and Gary Goldman. 1997.

Steele, C. K., Dr. “Assimilation, Acculturation, and Ethnicity.” CSU, Fort Collins, CO. 22 March. 2016. Lecture.



One thought on “Anastasia vs Acculturation

  1. Anastasia was one of my favorite movies as a kid. When taking a closer look and reading your post, I get a better understanding of how assimilation plays into this movie. I think you did a really good job with explaining how each of the four main characters fits into the four possible outcomes of assimilation and I think you are right when explaining that portraying these different outcomes can be harmful to kids watching these movies because they may feel like they don’t fit in if they don’t go along with the dominant culture.


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