on March 16, 2004
Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel once wrote that dramatizing the Holocaust was a futile task, not because dramatization could not be done, but because any such attempt would trivialize the evil inherent in the Nazi persecution of the Jews. Wiesel had good reason for his belief, having directly experienced what circumstances were like at the Auschwitz death camp.
In one sense I agree with Wiesel; however, I also agree with those, such as director George Stevens, who believed that dramatization served the critical purpose of informing the public of what occurred during the Nazi era. Further, as Otto Frank maintained, it was important that audiences realized that what his family and other Jewish people endured was not something restricted to Jews, but was, rather, an object lesson for the persecution of all people forced to endure the tyranny of genocidal regimes.
In a sense, therefore, it�s inevitable that Stevens� filming of �The Diary of Anne Frank� both failed and succeeded. It failed in that it commercialized the Holocaust, as every dramatic production is forced to do. But it succeeded in its educational mission, especially considering that at the time of its release in 1959, few people were aware of Anne Frank�s diary, or of the Holocaust generally.
Seeing the film today, it is still a powerful experience. Admittedly, as an aspect of its commercial treatment, certain elements were introduced that either were not in the original diary ---- such as the stealing of bread by Albert Dussell (pseudonym of Friedrich Pfeffer) ---- or were exaggerated for dramatic reasons (the love interest between Anne and Peter Van Dann). But the overall power of the basic situation ---- the intense atmosphere of tension and claustrophobia ---- and the story of Anne Frank�s adolescent transformation and her growing awareness of the transformation of Dutch society through Nazi oppression ---- gives us a window on the Holocaust which is unique. The film, like the diary, holds up a mirror of conscience in what must have seemed at the time to be a world of sprawling insanity. Anne Frank triumphs, as the Nazis emphatically did not, in transcending the contradictions within herself, and as a consequence her idealism shines through at the end (even if this, too, was exaggerated for cinematic reasons).
Millie Perkins, who plays Anne in the film, has sometimes been slighted for her ostensibly awkward performance, but I believe this is a cynical and unjust criticism. For one thing, Perkins was not a trained actress, but rather a model who happened to have the right look and personality for the part. But as both the documentary and one of the other supplements on this DVD point out, this was precisely why George Stevens chose her for the role. He wanted an unknown actress, not a professional who would �impose� her persona on the character. He believed ---- and I think correctly ----- that her look of innocence, and aura of adolescent idealism, were perfect for what he desired, and it�s ultimately these qualities which impress us by their contrast with the horrific circumstances that surrounded her.
The other cast members are also superb. Though Shelley Winters won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress, virtually all the actors, especially Joseph Schildkraut and Ed Wynn, are equally brilliant. In fact, Schildkraut not only physically resembled Otto Frank, but, according to Anne Frank�s cousin (interviewed as part of the accompanying documentary, �Echoes of the Past�), was also similar to him in terms of personality and demeanor. Wynn, for his part, turns in an amazingly convincing performance in a serious role, playing completely against type.
Whatever the liberties taken by the screenplay writers for �Diary,� the film remains faithful to the core experiences related in Anne Frank�s journal ---- both to her inner emotions and conflicts with her family, and to her widening awareness of her family�s place in the overall scheme of Nazi terror. The fact that this DVD transfers the film in such superior video and audio quality, and adds several excellent supplements (including a first-rate 90-minute documentary), makes this disc a fine addition to anyone�s video collection.
on June 10, 2006
Restored to its original 180 minute roadshow length (including overture and exit music), George Stevens' CinemaScope production of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1959, Fox) is a deeply moving and superbly acted movie experience. Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett adapted their Broadway show, with a brilliant Joseph Schildkraut (Otto Frank) and Gusti Huber (Mrs. Frank) repeating their stage roles. Added to a great cast are a very poignant and natural young Millie Perkins as Anne, Oscar winner Shelley Winters, Oscar nominee Ed Wynn in a bitter dramatic role, Diane Baker, and Richard Beymer as Anne's boy friend.
It is heartrending material--a German Jewish family hiding out from the Nazis for two years in a Dutch attic, with Anne keeping a daily diary that was curiously ignored by the Nazis and has become one of the most important Holocaust documents. (Maybe the same God who unforgivably let Anne and her sister die in a concentration camp only one month before war's end helped hide her diary for posterity.) Location filming was done in the actual Amsterdam attic, with the real Otto Frank as technical advisor. The Oscar-winning B&W art direction re-creates the actual two story attic interior to perfection (on huge Fox sound stages), and Oscar-winning cinematographer William Mellor (PEYTON PLACE) worked miracles to make wide CinemaScope compositions look cramped and claustrophobic. Producer/director Stevens gives it all a nail-biting tension, even though we know the grim outcome because of the powerful opening and closing framing device.
Bonus material is outstanding--a feature-length documentary "Echoes From the Past." new interviews with George Stevens, Jr. (who was second-unit director in Amsterdam) and a still-beautiful 66 year old Millie Perkins, and Movietone Newsreel footage. You will need two evenings for this film masterpiece that was nominated for eight Oscars the same year as SOME LIKE IT HOT, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, BEN-HUR, and ANATOMY OF A MURDER. That was some movie year! DIARY OF ANNE FRANK is an unforgettable Holocaust drama and movie experience when you have a three hour time slot.
Begins with Otto Frank's 1945 return to The Annex, informed that he is the only surviver of the eight inhabitants, gone are his wife and daughters.
He recognizes a scarf knitted by Anne, picks it up and cried deeply upon it.the scarf seems to represent all that is now lost.
Millicent Perkins ***** is enchanting in the role of Anne Frank, her glossy eyes and energetic playfulness which keeps her deluded from the tragic fate of the eight. She's full of soul and depth.
Shildkraut is also realistic in his portrayal of a very compassionate father trying to keep the children's spirits up and insuring that the children continue with their studies,providing them with as normal a life as possible under the very oppressed ,disturbing circumstances.
Shelly Winters,well she was well awarded for her convincing role.
All in all it is a very great, though extremely disturbing and saddening film.
Watching this touching movie spreads into your heart, and makes the eyes flood up with pity and sorrow.
This movie Should be seen At Least Once. It is easy to forget that we should count our blessings and be reminded of human torture the Holocaust brought. This film has a humbling effect.
The ending can easily move one to be more appreciative of his family and how little time we have on earth to love. As they stand , the eight of them terrorized, and yet somehow seem accepting and still hold dignity despite the doom they face.
One Last Look at Each Other and the movie closes.
ly recommended, especially for anyone who tends to pity themself too much.
Anne Frank wanted to be a writer, maybe live in Paris....but life didn't go the way she wanted it to. Instead, her life went in a completely opposite direction. I cannot help feeling that perhaps her life was meant to be the way it was, so generations after her, would remember the war in such a way as to never want such a human tragedy to occur again. This is a version of the Broadway drama dealing with the Holocaust and perhaps that is why it is more upbeat. This movie is more entertaining than horrifying. While there is an undercurrent of fear and suspense throughout the whole movie, there is much left to the imagination.
When Anne and her family are forced into hiding in Amsterdam, she is pensive at first, but soon learns that she can create her own happiness. There are two families living in a small space and they must face the possibility of being discovered at any time. They face hunger and cabin fever. They spend time reading, sewing, listening to the radio and being as quite as they can for most of the time. In the evenings when the workers in the factory below go home, they can then resume family life.
Anne has not been exposed to the evils of life. In 1942 she starts a journey to learn about herself and about the hardships of life. After receiving a diary as a present, she immediately starts to pen all her thoughts which are buried deep in her heart. As they spill out onto the pages, we are invited into Anne Frank's world. The world of a teenage girl, who is just learning about life, yet who learns so much in so little time.
I found this movie to perhaps be the most emotionally engaging story I have ever watched on film. Anne Frank had my heart in the first ten minutes. I was in love with her character, her personality, her big bright eyes, her interesting way of looking at life, her thought process, her eternal optimism and her delightfully impetuous nature. You will simply forget you are watching a black-and-white film. The picture is so colored by the characters that in fact, you will forget you are watching a movie. It is quite amazing how a film could be made on two families living in a few rooms in an attic. For this to be possible and enjoyable, the story had to be so true, and so real, that it would demand your full attention.
While this movie is based in the second World War, it is not at all pensive through the entire movie. I found myself laughing at one line so much, I actually cried. It was a line about the cat and I think you will think it is quite funny, especially if you watch the expression on the face of Ed Wynn as he is saying it. The cat belongs to Peter and becomes a part of the family. Having a cat in this movie was a delightful surprise.
The playful taunting between Anne and Peter is amusing. Anne has no friends to talk to and can't believe she is trapped up in this room with no girlfriends to talk to. She is such a typical teenager, that you completely understand her frustration.
While today we find it hard to comprehend how anyone could have their freedoms taken away from them, It could happen as easily to us as it did to them. Each time we treat someone with disrespect, we add to the evil influences in the world. It all starts in the heart. To me, Anne represented the good in the world, the light shining in the darkness. She had a heart which was so giving and she was open to experiencing life, no matter what her circumstances. Perhaps her soul was the most beautiful one God ever allowed to walk on our earth, and for such a short time. This is a movie you will never forget. Of all the movies I have seen, this one was the most beautiful in spirit.
~The Rebecca Review
on June 23, 2009
The Fox Studio Classic DVD release of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was outstanding and featured both a commentary track and excellent extras. So is the Blu-ray worth the upgrade? YES! The transfer of the film is beautifully done and all of the extras from the DVD are still here, but the additonal NEW material is worth the price of upgrading all by themselves. The section featuring Millie Perkins and Diane Baker sharing how they came to be picked for the film and their experiences working with director George Stevens moved me to tears. The Stevens World War II footage that he shot in 16mm Kodachrome has much more material then we have ever seen before. Steven's Jr. experiences on the film are very interesting and the section in which he shares letters that his dad sent and received are touching. Alfred Newman's composer sons (David and Thomas)discuss their dad's work on his magnificent score for the film. If you are interested in classic films and/or Anne Frank then this Blu-ray edition will be treasured addition to your libray. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
on July 24, 1999
I have to tell you that the review that mentioned only wanting to see "The Diary of Anne Frank because Richard Beymer was in it really tickled me because I was the same way when I first saw it..... But it has to rate as one of my all time favorite films. I have recently purchased it for my small collection. I was ten when I first read the diary,hav worn out more copies than I can remember,and still find the film uplifting in spite of the outcome. The fact that the film is in black and white adds to the quality. I thought Shelley Winters as Mrs Van Daan was incredible, and really deserved her Oscar. I wonder if Anne Frank had been released in a different year than Ben Hur, might have won Best Picture!. Millie Perkins as Anne was excellent too. I was really shocked to see her playing Annie Pott's grandma the other night! (We're about the same age!). I remember Ed Wynn from several Disney movies,but his performance as Dussel was great, and what can I say about Lou Jacobi as Mr Van Daan? Gusti Huber,Joseph Schildkraut and Diane Baker as Anne's family are first rate too,and I still love you,Richard! Remember Mrs Quack Quack. Trying to describe this film to someone who has never seen it is difficult,but I strongly encourage everyone to do so. and yes, as Anne said "in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart"...all you need to do is see this film and you will believe it too!
on August 29, 2005
While millions of unfortunate people were marched off to Nazi death camps during World War II, the Franks and the Van Daans savored their moment in hiding until they were discovered in August 1944 after an informer had tipped off the SS. Millie Perkins played the title role of Anne Frank, a girl in her teens who wished for a happy life and did her best to bring happiness to her family during a tumultuous time in the course of history.
In the two years the eight people were cooped up in a secret hideout on the top floor of a building located in the heart of Amsterdam, Anne kept up with her education and had the dream of one day to become a writer. She began writing a diary of her daily experiences of what she learned in life and how she coped with the boredom while in hiding. She had a courtship with Peter Van Daan as their relationship grew stronger toward the end when the SS broke through the secret entrance arresting all eight people.
Anne died of typhus within two months of Nazi Germany's surrender while interned at the infamous Bergen-Belzen death camp. Her father, Otto, was the only one of the eight to survive the Holocaust, returning to the former hideout where he found his daughter's diary to have it published. He resided in Canada until his death in the 1980s.
I visited the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam during the summer of 1977 before seeing this film for the first time the following year. Seeing the layout of the actual hiding place, I could picture how everything was while watching the film. Though a part of history, reflecting back to that dark era is painful for some people who had experienced the Holocaust and Nazi persecutions. Someone once said of the Nazi era that it is the things we want to forget most that we try the hardest to remember.
on December 24, 2012
This is an exceptional Blu-ray. Picture and sound quality are wonderful, and there are enough extras to make any film fan happy. Making of the film, pieces about the stars (Millie Perkins and Diane Baker are interviewed, as is Shelly Winters in an older interview), and George Stevens, Jr. provides lots of insight into his father (Jr. worked on the film, too). There is also color footage of Stevens, Sr. during WWII and in the death camps.
There is also a commentary track by Stevens, Jr., and Millie Perkins.
on May 19, 2006
Detached as I am when watching movies, this one truly grabbed my heart and never stopped squeezing, the juice pouring out of my eyes in the form of sympathetic tears.
This movie is great in all departments--acting, writing, directing, and editing. Based on some of the previous reviews, I expected an amaturish performance from Millie perkins. No way. She was wonderful, expressing the gamut of teenage emotions and evoking from me a caring, understanding response. Her only weakness is in her voice-over narration--it's a bit stiff, never transcending the sense of someone reading rather than just talking naturally. But this this is greatly overshadowed by the subtleties of her acting, which absorbed me thoroughly.
THIS IS A MOVIE WORTH SEEING MANY TIMES--SO ABSORBING IS THE STORY AND THE CHARACTERS!
What more can I say about this beloved film? It's still the most literal, well-known adaptation of Anne Frank's story, directly based on the Broadway play by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Director George Stevens felt a great personal need to tell this story, as his film unit, as part of the US Army Signal Corps, was the first to go into the Dachau concentration camp after it's liberation in 1945, documenting the atrocities committed there by the Nazis (much of what Stevens shot was later used as evidence during the Nuremberg trials). It was an experience which stayed with him, shaped the dark themes in later films like "Shane" and "A Place in the Sun"; and THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was, no doubt, the culmination of an obsession to reconcile himself with those traumatic wartime memories.
A lush production, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (1959) featured an amazing multi-storey set, closely modeled by art designers George W. Davis and Lyle Wheeler on the original Amsterdam hiding-place. For the terrifying bombing scenes, parts of the set were built on a platform of springs, causing the building to "lurch" and bounce as the bombs fell nearby. Three actors from the original Broadway cast of the play - Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank, Gusti Huber as Edith Frank, and Lou Jacobi as Mr Van Daan - were recruited to reprise their roles for the movie, and they each deliver a realism which heightens the drama immensely. Shelley Winters openly campaigned for the role of shrill Mrs Van Daan (a magnificent performance which netted the actress an Academy Award that she duly donated to the Anne Frank Museum); and Fox contract players Diane Baker and Richard Beymer played Margot and Peter. Beloved comedian Ed Wynn stunned audiences with his layered, Oscar-nominated performance as Mr Dussel. In fantastic supporting roles as the family's devoted helpers Miep and Mr Kraler are Dodie Heath and Douglas Spencer--two highly talented, versatile actors who very rarely receive their full dues when this movie is discussed--and I made certain to include them here because of that sad fact.
For the plum role of Anne Frank, director Stevens launched an exhaustive, worldwide talent search. Broadway's Susan Strasberg wasn't overly interested in reprising her performance; Audrey Hepburn was approached, being a close friend of Otto Frank and later a patron of the Anne Frank Trust, but having lived through the terrible occupation of Brussels during the war, she feared it would require opening very painful old wounds. For a while it looked like a young Dutch actress named Marianne Sarstadt would play Anne; and people became rather alarmed when Stevens began considering German actress Sabine Sinjen for the role. Millie Perkins, a nineteen-year-old model from New Jersey with absolutely no acting experience, finally landed the part and ended up giving a very tender and appropriate performance, thanks in no small part to George Stevens' intense direction and the support of her co-stars. It started the young girl on a very successful acting career in movies and television, but Perkins was quoted as saying recently: "I was a star only once, and that was when I did The Diary of Anne Frank."
This 50th Anniversary edition of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (ironically released close to the date of what would have been Anne's 80th birthday) boasts a wealth of all-new bonus material:
*"George Stevens in WWII" featurette (comprising many pieces of colour footage from George Stevens' Signal Corps coverage)
*"The Making of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Son's Memories" featurette with George Stevens Jr.
*"Memories from Millie Perkins and Diane Baker" featurette (recent interviews with Perkins and Baker sharing their stories from the set)
*"Shelley Winters and The Diary of Anne Frank" featurette (using 1983 interview portions from "George Stevens: A Filmmakers' Journey")
*"The Sound and Music of The Diary of Anne Frank" featurette (focusing on Alfred Newman's stirring, Oscar-nominated musical score)
*"The Diary of Anne Frank Correspondance" featurette (George Stevens Jr. narrates letters from his father and Otto Frank written during production of the film)
*Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman (from the Fox Movie Channel)
*extensive photo galleries
*interactive pressbook gallery
in addition to an audio commentary with Millie Perkins and George Stevens Jr. (ported over from the previous Studio Classics edition).
Sadly missing from this edition is the fascinating, 90-minute Fox special "Echoes from the Past: The Diary of Anne Frank", which was the main bonus feature for the film's 2004 Studio Classics release (in addition, the Fox Movietone newsreels, press conference footage, and an excerpt from "George Stevens: A Filmmakers' Journey" are dropped as well). I'd advise people to hold onto the old disc and also double-dip for the 50th Anniversary one, because both offer some essential extras for the fans.
Now, perhaps more than ever before, we need this wonderful, heartbreaking and life-affirming film. Recommended.