On Sunday night a film version of Anne Frank’s diary is being played on TV One at 8.30. Anne Frank’s Diary is one of the world’s most widely read works of non-fiction, giving a unique account of life in hiding under Nazi terror in WWII from the perspective of a teenage Jewish girl. I have added the TV One information about the programme below.
The drama starts on Anne’s 13th birthday in Amsterdam, as conditions for Jews get worse under Nazi occupation. Soon afterwards, the Frank family are forced to go into hiding suddenly when Anne’s older sister Margot receives her call-up papers. They hide in a secret annex above the warehouse and offices of Otto Frank’s spice company. Several of the loyal employees agree to help them by bringing in provisions and continuing to run the company in Otto’s name. Hiding with the Franks (Otto, Edith and their two daughters, Margot and Anne) are Otto’s work colleague, Mr Van Daan and his wife, Petronella and Son Peter) and a single man, Mr Dussell, a dentist by trade and friend of Otto’s. This ill-assorted group spend the next two years living together in cramped and increasingly harsh conditions, as food runs short, clothes wear out and the threat to their lives keeps getting worse. Through all this Anne chronicles their extraordinary lives through the eyes of a teenage girl. Their adventures are often funny, frustrating, dramatic and ultimately tragic as they are finally betrayed and captured only months before the end of the war.
We get to know each of the eight characters in an intimate way, from Otto’s calm leadership to Edith’s depression, Mrs Van Daan’s frivolity and Mr Dussell’s pomposity. Most crucially, we get to know Anne Frank, a bright, funny, energetic teenager who seems entirely modern to today’s readers and audiences. Destined to be a professional writer if she hadn’t died of typhoid in Bergen-Belslen in March 1945, Anne exuded life and character.
While in hiding she fell in love with the Van Daan’s son, Peter, and they conducted a courtship under the eyes of their whole family. Anne eventually tired of him, but unlike her quieter older sister, Anne lived a rich emotional life while in hiding and experienced life with great intensity. Although tragically short, her life was rich and her legacy of her diary account has made an huge impact across the world.
This production has been well received and is said to be the first to weave the actual words from the diary itself into a screenplay,which it is all the better for.
Anne Kendrick is exceptional in the lead, delivering a naturalistic, nuanced performance as Anne Frank. She’s funny and flirty and bored and stroppy, just like the real Anne. The whole cast is wonderful but if you have ever seen Black Books or Green Wing you will be very impressed by Tamsin Greig’s eye-catching perfomance as Anne’s shellshocked mother Edith.
I think everyone will find it a rewarding watch but those students who are studying Night and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas may find it of particular interest. Remember Anne Frank was a real person and the film shows that even with the darkest reality forcing itself in, she remained an ordinary girl, with an ordinary girl’s concerns.