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In Nazi-occupied Holland in World War II, shopkeeper Kraler hides two Jewish families in his attic. Young Anne Frank keeps a diary of everyday life for the Franks and the Van Daans, chronicling the Nazi threat as well as family dynamics. A romance with Peter Van Daan causes jealousy between Anne and her sister, Margot. Otto Frank returns to the attic many years after the eventual capture of both families and finds his late daughter's diary. Written by
This worthwhile cinematic tribute to "The Diary of Anne Frank" offers a solid cast, some very effective settings, and a generally well-considered selection of episodes. No mere movie could convey the full force of the original diary, which no one who has read it can forget. But this movie version is good in its own right, and it does add some memorable, if sometimes non-historical, images to the story. The script does alter some details, and it's hard to see why they could not simply have filmed a selection of actual events, since that could have been more than effective enough. But, as a movie in its own right, it works well.
The Diary is most important for its record of the daily lives of real individuals who lived in constant fear because of the Nazis and their irrational persecutions. It puts names and faces on the kind of human disaster that is all too often described in terms of mere numbers. The movie does well in bringing out this aspect of the diary, making the characters come to life in settings that are interesting, detailed, and believable. The photography also makes good use of the settings and the details.
The other significant aspect of the Diary is its portrait of Anne herself. Her writings combine observations on the overall situation with observations about her own life and self, with a surprising degree of perception. This does not come out so much in the movie, though of course this would be much harder to accomplish. Millie Perkins projects a rather different image from the original Anne, but then again, there is nothing really wrong with her performance in itself. She does make a sympathetic and generally believable heroine. The supporting cast generally does a good job. The fine character actor Joseph Schildkraut gives the best performance, as Anne's father Otto.
Overall, if viewed with reasonable expectations and evaluated apart from the book, this adaptation is an interesting and worthwhile movie.
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