Why Anastasia's Dimitri Is The Best Animated Love Interest

There is no animated love interest, from Disney or any other studio, as attractive and compelling as Dimitri from Don Bluth's "Anastasia." The 1997 musical directed by Bluth and Gary Goldman is about the last survivor of the Romanov family who escapes but gets amnesia and only knows herself as Anya the orphan. She meets Dimitri, a con man auditioning women to trick the dowager empress into believing that they are the missing Anastasia. What Anya does not know is that she is the real Anastasia. 

John Cusack's fantastic performance adds some color to Dimitri. His warm, familiar voice captures Dimitri's wry humor and underlying sensitivity. Cusack puts a lot of emotion into his vocals that really brings out the internal conflict Dimitri goes through. There are several other reasons why the floppy-haired, dark-eyed dreamboat captures viewer's hearts.

He isn't a typical Disney-style prince

"Anastasia" naturally drew comparisons to Disney, but one of the things that the film does better is craft a sharply-written, dynamic, and downright swoon-worthy love interest. A lot of the Disney princes—such as Prince Eric in "The Little Mermaid," Prince Charming from "Cinderella," or the nameless Prince in "Snow White"—don't have much of a personality. They are bland, generically handsome men who immediately sweep the princesses off their feet.

Dimitri is different, a unique mix of sarcastic, brave, and tender that makes him a really great character. He isn't a flawless prince. He's got a dark agenda before meeting Anya. "Anastasia" draws out their love story, making viewers wait on bated breath Anya and Dimitri transform from animosity to love while they undergo personal changes. It's a believable romance that doesn't fit the fairytale mold.

He's an enemy turned lover

One of the most satisfying romance tropes is when two characters end up in a romantic relationship after being enemies. Dimitri and Anastasia have an electric chemistry, exchanging witty banter that teeters on the edge of flirting. From the moment they meet, the pair are at odds. Anya is a very headstrong and independent girl who hates being bossed around, so she resents when Dimitri tries to teach her to behave like royalty. Dimitri makes his annoyance of Anya clear, calling her a "skinny little brat" and joking that he hates a woman who has her own mind. They argue like little children with Vlad keeping score of who wins. 

According to /Film's ranking of Don Bluth movies, this tension makes Dimitri's connection with Anastasia exciting to watch. Sparks are constantly flying between them, and as an audience member you constantly wonder what direction their relationship is going to go in. When their fighting ends and the film culminates with their passionate final kiss, it is so satisfying — especially after they have so many near kisses throughout the film. Dimitri and Anya privately elope instead of having a big wedding in the tradition of Disney movies. The gradual transformation from their hilarious arguments to romantic union is very gratifying.

He has a unique personality

Dimitri and Anya's love story is not straightforward because they are both multi-dimensional characters with unique personalities. Dimitri is stunned by Anya's strength and intelligence. She is one of the few people as quick-witted as he is, and this leaves him speechless and enchanted.

Dimitri and Anya quarrel because they are so similar. Both are scrappy and willing to put themselves in the line of danger. Anya is not a damsel in distress; they both rescue each other throughout the film. They are headstrong and courageous, but also loners without a home; that's why Dimitri encourages Anya to find out who she really is. 

Growing up as a poor servant at the palace, Dimitri understands the desire to find success and a better place in the world. Dimitri's economic struggles make him cynical and dispassionate, but falling in love with Anya brings out his inner tenderness. There are many shades to Dimitri's character and he is not the kind of he trickster initially appears to be. 

He's a bad boy turned good

Dimitri is crafty with dashing good looks, but his bad boy qualities are the most enticing. Although he starts out as a schemer with a devious plan to get rich quick, he's not a bad guy. In his heart, he's a romantic who would do anything for the people he cares about. In flashbacks, we see that he has always been a brave hero, saving young Anastasia from the revolutionaries by showing her a secret passageway. 

There's a sentimentality beneath his roguish charm. He dances with Anya and frequently comforts her, such as when she is extremely nervous at the opera. After Dimitri discovers Anya is Anastasia, he knows it wouldn't be right to take the reward money because he was planning to fool the empress. No longer greedy, Dimitri is just happy that Anya has found her home, yet sad that they will never see each other again because "princesses don't marry kitchen boys."

Dimitri's "change of heart" is just one of the many dimensions of his captivating character. He is not a cookie-cutter love interest and his feisty dynamic with Anastasia is delightful. Dimitri's personal journey, which is morally gray and has lots of ups and downs, is what makes him so interesting.