Kalum’s Glog

I opened my email to find a pleasant surprise. Kalum had sent me a link to Glogster as he had decided to complete his Biopoem homework as a glog. It is always great to see students using their initiative by thinking of what would be the best tool to use to complete a task. We will be using glogs later in the year but I haven’t even talked about that yet.

I enjoyed reading Kalum’s Biopoem because he was able to choose someone with a minor role in the book and show clear understanding of her character.

Thank you Kalum!

Anne Frank

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.

Vera Farmiga on Bruno’s mother

Bruno’s mother is a very interesting character, Vera Farmiga who played her in the film says this of Elsa,

Elsa doesn’t think. She doesn’t think for herself, she doesn’t think deeply. She chooses to be oblivious, concerning herself only with the safety of her family and her position in society – everything else is beyond her periphery. She’s a sort of accomplice and assistant to her husband’s ideals, his desires, his morals and his ambitions. But as she starts to open her eyes to what is unfolding, as she starts to explore for herself, there is a gradual decline of tenderness, trust and respect for her husband. And eventually she stands up and says No! Eventually, she condemns what’s going on. She even tries to get her husband to see the evil that he’s responsible for. But it’s too late . . . She has intuitions; she knows that people are being horribly mistreated. But she doesn’t look; she doesn’t want to see it because seeing it would implicate her husband, and it would implicate herself.

John Boyne talks about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

Writer John Boyne explains why he wrote the novel in the form he did:

It goes without saying that a work of fiction set in the time and place of the Holocaust is contentious and any writers who tackle such stories had better be sure of their intentions before they begin. This is perhaps particularly important in the case of a book written for children. For me, a 34-year-old Irish writer, it seemed that the only respectful way to approach the subject was through innocence, with a fable told from the point of view of a rather naive child who couldn’t possibly understand the horrors of what he was caught up in. I believe that this naiveté is as close as someone of my generation can get to the dreadfulness of that period.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

At the moment 10 Mke is studying John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The novel is the tale of a surprising yet tender friendship set on both sides of the fence in Auschwitz Concentration Camp.  As readers we understand the story through the naïve perceptions of Bruno, a nine-year old who moves to a place he calls Out-With when a man he refers to as the Fury offers his father a job as Commandant of the camp.  Bruno is homesick for friends and family in Germany after moving to Poland where he laments his small house and the strange fence in the backyard that separates him from the people who wear striped pyjamas each day.  This all changes when Bruno befriends Shmuel, a Jewish boy from the other side of the fence who Bruno does not see as very different from himself.  When Bruno decides to explore further and join Shmuel on the other side of the fence, it becomes clear that Bruno cannot comprehend the horrors of the world in which he lives.

The novel explores themes of friendship, bravery, and humanity, often through exploring their opposites, and Boyne uses Bruno’s innocence as a foil to expose the hatred and injustices of the Holocaust.  Bruno’s limited world view and egotism however, create a minimal picture of the circumstances making some historical knowledge necessary to fully grasp the book’s meaning.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is John Boyne’s first children’s book although he has written adult novels. Boyne lives in Ireland and he studied English as Trinity College Dublin where he received the Curtis Brown prize.  He has taught at both Trinity College Dublin and the Irish Writers’ Centre and regularly reviews for The Irish Times and The Irish Book Reviewer.

If you would like to find out more about John Boyne, go to his website.

Totalitarian Architecture of the Third Reich

Dark Roasted Blend has a post on the architecture of Nazi Germany which 10 KIM and Year 13 students may find of interest. Here is an extract:

Fascist and communist governments in the first half of the twentieth century both created monumental architecture, largely to intimidate their people and showcase the regime’s strengths. In a totalitarian system such as existed in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, the government attempted to control every aspect of daily life. It used architecture to some degree to achieve this, to firmly establish its authority leaving no doubt as to who was in charge. One of the chief aims of Nazi architecture was also to reflect the beliefs of National Socialism, celebrate the German national identity and glorify the idea of the master Aryan race, as perceived by Hitler and his associates. Read the rest here.