Brilliant & masterful Holocaust film
Paul Kesler | Bridgeport, PA United States | 03/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
A magnificent real-life Holocaust drama
Stephen H. Wood | South San Francisco, CA | 06/11/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
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.
Beauty of spirit in the midst of War!
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 01/09/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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"
Tragically Recaptures Ill Fated Occupants of The Annex
' Groovin' guy | 08/11/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."