Written by: Jon Blair, based around the diary of Anne Frank
Directed by: Jon Blair
Narrated by: Kenneth Branagh and Glenn Close
Released by: Sony Pictures Classics
Anamorphic: No; appears in its orignal 1.66:1 format.
My Advice: At the very least, rent it, but it’s worth owning
There is more to the life and death of the most famous of Hitler’s victims than meets the eye. Anne Frank’s diary only begins to tell the story of her life. What about her father and the rest of ther family? What was the series of events that lead them into that small attic in Amsterdam?
This documentary goes into detail about life in Nazi-controlled Europe at the time and how horrible it was for Jews. However, this documentary doesn’t stop where the play and the movie do. Instead, this goes full force into what happened to the Franks after they were discovered and taken to the concentration camps. I really don’t believe that there can ever be too many documentaries or fictional movies about this time period and what happened. After all, what has happened once can surely happen again. These interviews are priceless and the archival footage that is presented here is second to none. The writing is outstanding and it is beautifully narrated by Branagh. Likewise, Close‘s readings from the diary itself are breathtaking.
However, the main reasons to watch this documentary are the family photographs and films of the Frank family and those who were there to witness the story. Miep Gies, who was Otto Frank’s (Anne’s father) secretary and co-conspirator to try and keep the family safe, was alive to take part in interviews. There’s also an archival interview with Otto himself, as well as many others who were first-hand witnesses. And the only known video footage of Anne herself from 1941. These are used to tell the real story of Anne Frank and such, should not be missed.
The DVD, feature-wise at least, really misses the mark. There is an amazing opportunity here to include some bonus material that helps to tell the story of what happened to the Jews during the 1940s. The most obvious feature missing is an interactive timeline that helps to tell the story of not only the Frank family, but also the Nazi occupation of Europe. They also could have included some of the MovieTone Newsreels bringing the news of the war back home to America. Since the documentary itself contains the important interviews with the people who were involved, it would have been nice to have included some text excerpts from Anne’s diary. Kudos for getting this docu out there, but really, there’s an educational and archival opportunity that was missed on this DVD.
Still, the documentary needs to be seen. At the very least, you need to rent it. True fans of history and of this very powerful story will want this one on their shelves permanently.