Response from Fox Studios in regards to the production of Anastasia.
February 14th, 1998
Presented below is the response from Fox Animation Studio in regards to the letter written previously.
January 14th, 1998.
Rev. Father Nektarios Serfes,
2618 West Bannock Street,
Boise, Idaho 83702.
2747 East Camelback Road
Phoenix, Arizona 85016
Phone 602 808 4600
Fax 602 808 4699
Dear Rev. Father Nektarios Serfes,
We are in receipt of your letter concerning your questions regarding our production of Anastasia. Thank you for your communication. We will try to answer in a way that will give you a clear picture of what the studio was creating for the world family audience. I realize you addressed your communication to Don but, I felt that as his career partner, and having shared the Producer/Director role with him, I would address our answers to you. We've listed your questions below and provided answers to each.
- Was 20th Century Fox aware that the Imperial Family had been canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia?
We had heard rumors to that effect. We had been doing research on the family and the various books, plays and films that had been done previously (based on the myth and rumors that inspired them). We also had access to hundreds of articles from newspapers and magazines, that were available in libraries and studio archives. We also consulted with Russian Historians and Professors here in the United States and a team of Russians in St. Petersburg (none associated with the film industry). This research and production has been over the last three and a half years.
- Were they aware that the Russian Orthodox Church based in Moscow, Russia, has also been contemplating the holy canonization of the Romanov family?
- Were they aware that the Romanov family bones are still in Ekaterinburg, Russia, and those remains are now being considered by the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Government for proper burial?
Yes. While in St. Petersburg, we were taken to the Peter and Paul Fortress where many of the Russian Tsars and their families are buried. There was word at that time (January 1995) that they were contemplating providing a burial space for Nicholas and his family behind the main chapel within this complex. We thought this was terrific.
- Were they aware of the fact the Serbian Orthodox Church has enormous love and respect for the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and his beloved family; a respect and devotion also felt by countless other Orthodox and nonOrthodox Christians throughout the world?
No, we were not. We were aware, however, that the demise of the family was an unthinkable crime, especially with the alternatives available to the revolutionary leaders. Also, in discussions with citizens of St. Petersburg, we were made quite aware of the shame everyone felt about the event (even 77 years after the fact). But there was no mention of an enormous love and respect for "the Tsar-Martyr" Nicholas II.
- Were they aware of the fact that the Eastern Orthodox Church and also nonOrthodox Churches have shown a serious spiritual interest that the holy canonization of the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and his family take place?
- Were they aware of the many web sites now available devoted to the TsarMartyr Nicholas II and his family, and the many people who have expressed their love and who have an open mind and heart in regard to this loving family?
- Were they fully aware of the history of the Imperial Family, and of the great love the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II and his beloved family had for God, Russia, and its people?
Yes. Extensive research was done on the family. We are aware that Nicholas was a wonderful father and a loving husband. From all accounts of the family and its privileged lifestyle, we found that everyone in the family was a reflection of Nicholas and his wife, Alexandra-intelligent, loving and caring people.
- Did 20th Century Fox ever consider contacting and asking the advice of the present Royal Members of the Romanov Family and their relatives, as well as other Royal Members of the Romanov family and their relatives, as well as other Royal persons who are related to the Romanov family?
No. Fox was not looking for "permission" to create a fairy tale based on the fact that the real Anastasia was a wonderful human being or the myth and rumors that caused the essays, books and eventually a play to be wriften. These were obviously based on the Anna Anderson claim. It was on the play's success and Fox's film rights to that play that the fairy tale was born.
- Did they really study and understand the historical truths of the period?
Yes. However, we did not make a "docu-drama." This is a fantasy. It is a fairy tale which is tailored to create hope. In no way does it try to document the history of the Romanov family, the Revolution, the death of the Romanov family or the real life of Anastasia. We have left that to the Discovery Channel and the PBS stations that dot the country. Anastasia, the fairy tale, is a story of hope, love and family.
- Has 20th Century Fox ever considered that through this film and the related materials they are misinforming children by perpetuating a serious fiction-that the Grand Duchess Anastasia survived the massacre--thus making them all the more confused in their understanding of, and respect for, TsarMartyr Nicholas II and his beloved family--or was that the main intention?
We have considered the above. We don't believe we are misinforming anyone. This is not a historical account of the Revolution and the unfortunate death of the Romanov family. However, we're sure it will drive many of the children to the textbooks to find out the account of the real Anastasia. It should strike interest in children, where there may not have been interest before--especially those without the benefit of studying world history, and in particular, Russian history.
We hope this answers your questions. As you can see from the answers, our efforts in making this movie may not mirror your perception of the family, the history or religious ideals with regard to your church. However, the myth and the rumors persist about the outcome of the assassination of Tsar Nicholas, his wife Alexandra, their five children, and their physician and servants. Even the latest DNA accounts do not specify which of the children are represented by the remains found. The latest is that two of the remains have been identified as two of the four sisters. This is as of approximately eight weeks ago. There is no acknowledgment with regard to the Grand Duchess Anastasia.
It is nice to think that perhaps one of the children did survive and went on to find a life with love, a family and a home. The film is there to offer hope to the audience, not to instruct or educate the audience on the history of 20th Century Russia. All of the publications that accompany the release of this motion picture are based on the fantasy that the film portrays. They are not history books. They are not there to educate the young audience about the "real" Grand Duchess Anastasia.
We're sure that any future questions will fall in the same categories and will receive similar answers from Fox and/or the animation staff here at the studio. It is not a subject we wish to argue and we can assure you that Fox is not going to stop its publications or its distribution of the film.
Consider this. All fairy tales, myths and folklore are based, at least partially, on fact or an exaggeration of fact. Somewhere in history there was a story that became Cinderella, and others that became Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Thumbelina, Pinocchio, etc. Recently the world lost a gracious and giving Princess Diana.
We wouldn't be surprised if, in the next 50-100 years, that someone writes a story based on that young lady's life and/or the lives of her children, in the form of a fairy tale, omitting the tragic truth about the way she died.
Stories, such as this, are there to offer lessons in life and hope for the future. We don't believe that we have demeaned the Romanov family in any way. The film portrays them (briefly) as a close family--with a great sense of love. Please accept the film as just that, a fairy tale. It is not meant to offend and it should not reflect negatively on the Church's efforts to canonize Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra and their children.
b a c k - t o p e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org. February 14th, 1998