The film is a loose adaptation of the legend of Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russiawhich claims that she, in fact, escaped the execution of her family. Its basic plot centers around an eighteen-year-old amnesiac orphan named Anya who, in hopes of finding some trace of her family, sides with con men who wish to take advantage of her likeness to the Grand Duchess; thus the film shares its plot with Fox's prior film fromwhich, in turn, was based on the play of the same name by Marcelle Maurette.
The film was met with criticism by some historians for its fantastical retelling of the life of the Grand Duchess. Though it enjoyed a positive reception from many critics, the historical inaccuracies were panned. The success of Anastasia spawned various adaptations of the film into other media, including a direct-to-video spin-off filma computer game,  books, toys and a stage musicalwhich premiered in The ball is suddenly interrupted by the sorcerer Grigori Rasputinthe former royal adviser to the Romanov family until he was exiled for treason.
Seeking revenge, Rasputin sold his soul in exchange for an unholy reliquarywhich he uses to place a curse on the Romanovs, sparking the Russian Revolution.
During the siege of the palace, only Marie and Anastasia are able to escape with the aid of year-old servant boy Dimitri, who shows them a secret passageway in Anastasia's bedroom. Rasputin confronts the two royals outside on a frozen river, only to fall through the ice and drown.
The pair manage to reach a moving train, but only Marie climbs aboard while Anastasia falls, hitting her head on the platform and suffering amnesia. Ten years later, Russia is under communist rule and Marie has publicly offered 10 million rubles for the safe return of her granddaughter. Elsewhere, Anastasia — now 18 years old and going by the name of "Anya" — leaves the rural orphanage where she grew up, still suffering from amnesia.
Accompanied by a stray puppy she names "Pooka", she decides to head to Paris, inspired by the inscription on the necklace she still has, but finds she is unable to leave Russia without an exit visa.
An old woman advises her to see Dimitri at the abandoned palace, where he and Vladimir have made residence; there, the two men are impressed by her resemblance to the "real" Anastasia, Anastasia is blowing a dude she just met decide to take her Anastasia is blowing a dude she just met them to Paris. Bartok, Rasputin's albino bat minion, is nearby and notices his master's dormant reliquary suddenly revived by Anastasia's presence; it drags him to limbo, where Rasputin, slowly decomposing, survives.
Enraged to hear that Anastasia escaped the curse, Rasputin sends his demonic minions from the reliquary to kill her; despite two attempts, the trio manage to unwittingly foil his plans, forcing Rasputin and Bartok to travel back to the surface.
The trio eventually reach Paris and go to meet Marie, who has given up the search after being tricked by numerous imposters. Despite this, Marie's cousin Sophie quizzes Anastasia to confirm her identity.
Though Anastasia offers every answer taught to her, Dimitri finally realizes she is the real Anastasia when she without being taught to vaguely recalls how he helped her escape the palace siege. Sophie, also convinced, arranges a meeting with Marie at the Palais Garnier Opera house. There, Dimitri tries to establish an introduction but Marie refuses, having already heard of Dimitri's initial scheme to con her. Anastasia overhears the conversation and angrily leaves.
Dimitri drags Marie to see Anastasia, who regains her memories as they converse. Convincing the empress of her identity, the two are joyfully reunited. Marie offers Dimitri the reward money the next day, recognizing him as the servant boy who saved them from the siege; to her surprise, he refuses it and leaves for Russia.
At Anastasia's return celebration, Marie informs her of Dimitri's gesture, leaving Anastasia torn between staying or going with him. Dimitri returns to save her, but is soon injured and knocked unconscious. In the struggle, Anastasia manages to get hold of Rasputin's reliquary and crushes it under her foot, avenging her family as Rasputin disintegrates and dies. In the aftermath, Anastasia and Dimitri reconcile after Anastasia discovers the truth; they elope, and Anastasia sends a farewell letter to Marie and Sophie, promising to return one day.
The couple are then seen kissing on a riverboat.
Bartok shares a kiss with a female bat before bidding the audience farewell. SimmonsVictoria Clarkand Lillias White were among the ensemble and character voices. They would later adapt story elements from Pygmalion with the peasant Anya being molded into a regal woman.
Early into production, Bluth and Goldman began researching the actual events through enlisting former CIA agents stationed in Moscow and St.
Eventually, Bluth and Goldman decided the history of Anastasia and the Romanov dynasty was too dark for their film. When Graham and Gauthier moved onto other projects, husband-and-wife screenwriting team Bob Tzudiker and Noni White were hired for additional rewrites.
For the villains, Bluth also did not take into consideration depicting Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviksand initially toyed with the idea of a police chief with a vendetta against Anastasia.
Instead, they decided to have Grigori Rasputin as the villain with Goldman explaining it was because of "all the different things they did to try to destroy Rasputin and what a horrible man he really was, the more it seemed appetizing to make him the villain". In addition to this, Bluth created the idea for Bartok, the albino bat, as a sidekick for Rasputin.
A bat seemed a natural friend for Rasputin. Making him a white bat came later - just to make him different.