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Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl

Josef Stalin said, "A single death is a tragedy; a million are statistics." Thus, the strongest films about war focus on a few people, as this one does. An adolescent girl in WWII, Anne Frank hid for over two years, with seven other Dutch Jews, in a factory attic belonging to an acquaintance. Found by the Nazis and shipped to concentration camps just weeks before the Allies liberated Holland, all but Anne's father died.

Remade as TV movies in 1967, 1980, 1987, and 2001, the original movie opens on the father's return to the attic to retrieve Anne's diary, and proceeds in flashbacks, as he reads it and remembers. The movie makes the viewer claustrophobic and tense, heightening that when the seven Jews worry that someone in the factory below has heard and will discover them. With typical footage of the time, many scenes are troubling: German soldiers machine-gun a suspect fleeing off-camera, Jews are rounded up, and anti-aircraft flak hits British and American planes on their way to Nazi targets. As at the climax, when the Franks' hiding place is discovered, the scenes were created with restraint.

All the actors, Anne (Perkins), her father (Schildkraut), Mrs. Van Dean (Winters), Anne's boyfriend Peter (Beymer), and the fussy dentist (Wynn), do outstanding work as ordinary, average humans trying to live their lives and to hold onto their hopes in the midst of extraordinarily bad circumstances. Perkins, who was 21 at the time, effectively portrays a 13- to 15-year-old girl trying to make sense of the world she's in.

Winters earned Best Supporting Actress for playing the contrary Mrs. Van Dean, who berates her husband and makes occasional suggestive moves toward Anne's father. Wynn, who worked in many comic Disney roles, and even with the Three Stooges, is perfect as Dussell, pulling our emotions in all directions as a comic personality, with matching mannerisms reminds us how little there is here to laugh about. When the news of D-Day comes over their hidden radio, the families begin to argue about their food distribution, as Mr. Dussell simpers, "Stop! You're spoiling the whole invasion!"

Some people challenge whether Anne's diary is genuine; others challenge all the WWII exterminations. Anyone who wants a second opinion about the practice of hiding Jews in Holland should read, or watch the film based on, Corrie Ten Boom's story The Hiding Place.
Director(s): George Stevens
Writer(s): Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, based on their stage play, based on the boo
Cast: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer, Gusti Huber, Lou Jaco
Release Date: 1959   
Keyword: Anne Frank: hidden European Jews in WWII; Amersterdam; adole
Target Age: 14+   Category: war and peace
Documentary: no
Language: English with some subtitled German   Reviewer's Name: Micah
Review: http://MRQE
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