Friday, June 10, 2016

WBI: Bartok

ANASTASIA FANDOM. ARISE AND FULFILL YOUR DARK PURPOSE!

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In 1916, Rasputin’s plans to kill the entire royal family fell through ice. Ten years later, Bartok the Bat sees the return of the lost duchess Anastasia and the reanimation of his master’s cursed relic—thus reunited with Rasputin to seal the fate of the Romanov family at last.

WBI Profile

Classification :: Θ347
Role :: Henchman (Rasputin’s servant)
Motivation :: Psychology (loyalty), Insubordination (employee), Personal/Material Gain (an end to Rasputin’s plots)

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His Significance To…

Rasputin—Bartok is Rasputin’s friend. He offers to teach him to dance and is always there for moral support, but he doesn’t actually assist in the murdering.

Anastasia—despite being Rasputin’s friend, Bartok spends a good deal of his time trying to convince the guy not to kill Anastasia. Go get a life, he says, let’s go dancing, he says. Forget the girl.

the movie—and, at the end of all things, Bartok doesn’t really do anything significant. His actions do not set anything important in motion; his main role is comic relief.

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Notable Actions

remaining loyal—it is a special person who will hang onto your stuff for ten years, join you in limbo, replace your mislaid eyeballs and thumbs, and then come along for the ride when you assassinate a lost noble.

defending Anastasia—again, Bartok doesn’t really want to kill Anastasia. He’s a bat. He eats fruit and likes girl bats. He’s with Rasputin out of loyalty, not because he believes in the cause.

leaving Rasputin—finally, when Rasputin really is in a position to kill Anastasia, Bartok backs out: “You’re on your own, sir! This can only end in tears!”

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Big Idea

comic relief—if the GIFs haven’t clued you in, this guy is hilarious. He has some of the best one-liners in the movie (and, considering how many one-liners there are in this movie, that is quite the compliment). In this way, Bartok relieves some of the darkness of the story. Rasputin—in the movie and in real life—was a shady dude. This way, it’s a little more palatable for a family movie.

the face of cute (I mean, evil)—let’s be honest. Bartok is not really evil. HE IS ADORABLE. He has funny lines and a little bat face and bat wings and he’s white and sweet. Rasputin is, truly, scum. Dirty, evil, corrupted, awful. And yet his partner is the face of innocence. More on that in a sec.

voice of conscience—lest you think that Bartok is unimportant, let me remind you there’s more to him than humor. His thoughts supplant his lack of action; he tries to dissuade Rasputin from killing Anastasia. Bartok is the voice of morality. He encourages his master to not do the bad thing and do something good and fun instead. Rasputin, of course, never listens, but he is never immune to the voice of goodness pushing back on his plans.

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It is, in fact, Bartok’s morality that makes him an interesting henchman because he is a) good and b) imaginary.

His character might be imaginary, anyway. Followed by a little white bat, I argue that Rasputin superimposes the personification of his moral compass upon the little guy. Anastasia’s animals don’t talk unless part of Rasputin’s perspective, as with Bartok and the bugs in “In the Dark of the Night.” Bartok doesn’t interact with any other humans. And, again, Bartok’s main contribution is trying to do the right thing and spare Anastasia.

If this is true, then we also get an idea of how Rasputin characterizes his morality—as a foil to himself. Bartok is small, pure white, and in good shape. This contrasts Rasputin’s looming, dark figure, which is both morally corrupt and in the process of physical decay. Bartok can fly free; Rasputin sold his soul and faces imprisonment in the afterlife. Bartok suggests alternatives to evil; Rasputin remains hell-bent on the destiny decided a decade ago. But there’s more: Bartok always refers to Rasputin as “sir.” In this way, Rasputin is always the master of morality. He is never in a position where he must compromise; there is never a time when he doesn’t have the power to choose.

What does that say about Bartok, I wonder? Rasputin was never forced to be good, but he wasn’t forced to be evil, either. He chose—and with such a moral character following him around, could he have chosen to be good in the end, too?

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What’s your favorite part of the movie Anastasia? And, tell me, what do you think of Bartok?


Hey, just one last thing, dear mortals. If you haven’t already filled in my social media survey, I would love to hear your voice!

14 comments :

  1. Bartok as Rasputin's moral compass is really interesting. I just figured they put him in as comic release (or else the movie would have been extremely dark and depressing).

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    1. Well, yeah, they probably did, BUT STILL. That's no reason to assume he can't have a greater role in there, anyway.

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  2. It's crazy that I've never seen the whole movie Anastasia--just bits and pieces. I do like Bartok, though. Cute and evil is a pretty potent mix.

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    1. Agh, Alex, you gotta see it. You just gotta, girl. But Bartok is yeah, muy cute.

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  3. *flails* Oh my goodness, Anastasia was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I haven't watched it in ages but I really should. (I recently listened to an intriguing audiobook about her and her family lately and have been thinking about renting the movie soon).

    I always liked Bartok and his humor. This was a really interesting look at the character! I'll definitely be thinking about it next time I watch the movie. :)

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    1. It's so funny that coming up on a century since her death, we still find Anastasia so interesting and romantic. I hope you enjoy the movie the next time you watch it! (It's totally worth it.)

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  4. I haven't seen Anastasia in so long it's actually kind of ridiculous. It was a good film too if I remember rightly! And omg Bartok was fabulous, let's be honest.

    Amy;
    Little Moon Elephant

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    1. Yes, I think Anastasia is a delightful movie! And yes, Bartok's fabulousness is undeniable.

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  5. I really enjoyed Anastasia! I never even gave a thought to Bartok when I watched it as a kid. I love that you look at these characters so critically. Like someone said above, the moral compass idea is really intriguing.

    Great post!

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    1. Yeah, Bartok's importance can kind of glide past notice at first glance, so I think it's fun to see their greater purposes in the story. :)

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  6. It looks like my comment was eaten. Oh well. Here goes again.

    This is really interesting because I didn't even remember Bartok as wanting to do the right thing. It's been such a long time since I've seen Anastasia though, and I need to fix that. Great post, Heather! Bartok's a fun character.

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    1. Indeed, we lump him in with evil but sometimes don't see what his own opinions were. Thanks for reading, Ally!

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  7. If we're talking canon here, I think the movie Bartok the Magnificent should be mentioned! The movie itself was released after Anastasia, but is considered a prequel, since it's pre-russian revolution. Not to mention, the Tsar looks very familiar.

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    1. *nods* I've heard of Bartok the Magnificent, but I haven't found a copy yet. I'll have to look it up!

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