ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE: BEST PICTURE
A Jewish girl and her family hide from the Nazis in an Amsterdam attic. Biographical. [ The Diary of Anne Frank credits: Dir: George Stevens/ Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters/ 170 min/ Drama/ Democide]
“The Diary of Anne Frank communicates well the quiet heroism of all involved.”
This film brings to life the actual diaries of Anne Frank, whose youthful writings provide one of the most enduring and poignant memorials of the Holocaust. Her innocent perspective makes this a particularly good introduction for young people to the concept of state-sponsored genocide.
In the mid-1930s, the Frank family moved to Holland from Germany, to escape Nazi persecution. However, when the Nazis occupied Holland, the persecution began all over again. Only this time escape was impossible. So heroic Dutch friends made a hiding place for the Franks (and a few others) in an attic.
The Anne Frank diary tells what it was like during that time of hiding, and the events recorded form the basis for this film. As dramatized here, there were many difficulties: the Franks had to be completely silent most of the day to avoid detection; they were entirely dependent on their Dutch friends for food and other necessaries; there was no privacy; there were personality conflicts; and there were health problems.
These difficult conditions brought out the best in some, the worst in others. Meanwhile, their hopes rose and fell with news from the outside. Throughout the portrayal of all this, you find yourself thinking, “If only they can go undetected a little longer …” — even though you already know the inevitable end.
The Diary of Anne Frank communicates well the quiet heroism of all involved and the (few) love scenes are performed with a rare delicacy and purity. Reflecting its origins on the stage, this is a generally superior production. The script is literary, the set design clever, and the acting consistently credible, although Millie Perkins is merely adequate as Anne Frank. For a long film taking place for the most part on a single set, it’s surprisingly suspenseful and engaging. This film won three Academy Awards.