Russia, December 31, 1918: A small group of loyalist officers celebrate New Year's Day in a small house on the outskirts of Yekaterinburg. Because Nastya is none other than the Grand Duchess Anastasia whom he saved during the massacre of the imperial family by the Bolshevik troops! With “We, Anastasia R”, taken from the eponymous novel, dive into a brilliant uchronia historical!
1918, Russia is torn by civil war between the revolutionary troops of the young Red Army and the soldiers loyal to the Tsar: the white army. Prisoners of the reds, the Russian imperial family is being held at Villa Ipatev. On the night of July 17 to 18, by order of Lenin, they were eliminated. Tsar Nicholas II, Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna, their son Alexis, their four daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia are executed and dissolved in acid before their ashes are buried. For the Bolsheviks there must be nothing left of the Romanovs! But what escapes them is that among them is an infiltrated loyalist, the white officer Félix Volodine who manages to exfiltrate the young Anastasia, seriously injured ... But alive! Shortly after the white army liberates Ekaterinburg and the villa from crime, Volodin has Anastasia treated, whom he presents as a cousin taken in to protect her from the persecutions of the Reds. He knows that for the moment the survival of the princess must not be revealed under any circumstances. Lenin for his part has serious doubts about the complete elimination of the imperial family, he sends his henchmen to hunt down a possible survivor and eliminate the traces of the massacre and thus precede the investigator sent by Admiral Kolchak, head of the White Army. Colonel Volodin, while hiding his "cousin", lends a hand to the investigator to study the scene of the crime and exhume the bodies despite the Bolshevik elements who are trying to eliminate them ... At the same time, in Romania, a poor woman woman traumatized by the massacre, weak psychologically, feeds on illustrations on the imperial family. Gradually replacing her memories with an imaginary court life, she convinced herself to be a princess who had escaped the massacre ...
This comic is an adaptation of the eponymous novel by Patrice Ordas and Patrick Cothias. This is the sequel to “Villa Ipatev” that Histoire pour Tous presented to you last year. Nathalie Berr's drawings and Sébastien Bouet's coloring are in a realistic style, sufficiently rich and detailed to be immersive and to immerse the reader in the cold and heavy atmosphere of this winter of 1919. The large fir forests, the snow , the mud from the thaw, the bones that we lift from the earth, the Bolsheviks in ambush, everything contributes to this permanent tension which makes comics particularly engaging and dynamic.
Histoire pour Tous had already expressed itself on the screenplay of this novel, and therefore by extension of the comic book series which ensues from it. The hypothesis of the survival of the Grand Duchess Anastasia has long sowed discord between journalists, scholars, historians ... We know today, thanks to the bodies exhumed in 1998 and 2007, that Anastasia unfortunately did was executed with his family. However, the myth of her survival still persists, not least because a certain Franziska Schwanzkowska claimed to be Anastasia. This scenario is therefore an uchronia, but very well inserted in history, with its political context, its real characters and the real doubt that was maintained on the survival of Anastasia and on the true identity of Franziska.
However, the history of the Russian revolution is quite complex and above all very little known to the general public who generally consider that everything was done in 1917. The loyalist army, politically forgotten at the time, and today forgotten historically for the majority of non-specialists, and in particular by the young audience who love comics. Therefore, the role of Admiral Koltchak or General Denikine cited in the comics are certainly more than vague for the vast majority of readers. The real existence of Franziska Schwanzkowska is not obvious to the neophyte either. As a result, it is quite possible that many readers miss out on the fine research work that Ordas and Cothias have done and that they also miss the opportunity to learn a little more about the Russian Revolution. . Undoubtedly a historical file, even brief, is sorely lacking in this comic. Many themes deserve to be mentioned, including in priority: the political context and its chronology, the true story of Anastasia and what we know about that of Franziska. Not only would this serve to popularize History, which by definition we appreciate here, but in addition it would really highlight the work of the writers.
To conclude, we have here a very good example of a comic against factual History, worthy of the heir to the novel from which it is drawn. A story that would greatly benefit from being accompanied by a documentary corpus, which may be the case in the future, because the saga is not over!
The novel :
- We Anastasia R.
The comics :
- Villa Ipatev
- The ashes of Koptiaki
Screenplay: Patrice Ordas & Patrick Cothias
Drawings: Nathalie Berr
Colors: Sébastien Bouet
Collection: Wide Angle