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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Compelling and fascinating.

Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
23 May 2006

'The Short Life of Anne Frank' tells, briefly and concisely, the remarkable story of the young diarist. Since this is a documentary with only one talking-head sequence (a clip of Otto Frank on television in the 1960s, speaking in English), the format consists of narration over visuals ... so it was easy for the Dutch filmmakers to re-dub this Dutch-language telefilm into English, with new narration. I felt that Nicky Marks Morris, the English girl who provides the voice of Anne Frank in the English-language version, was absolutely perfect for the role ... although her accent is just a bit more prole than the real Anne's probably was.

This very worthy documentary seems to be intended for young schoolchildren who have never learnt about the Holocaust ... so, without condescending to us, the filmmakers assume we know nothing about the subject. The narrator tells us that the people who controlled Germany during the Second World War were called Nazis. Then he informs us that the leader of the Nazis was named Adolf Hitler. Then he tells us that Hitler didn't like Jews. Fortunately, this sequence ends before it becomes risible.

One might assume that every single aspect of Anne Frank's life has been deconstructed by now, but these filmmakers have done an astonishing job of tracking down visuals never seen before. They include here the only known cine-footage of Anne and her older sister: when a neighbour got married, someone with a silent home-movie camera filmed the wedding couple leaving on their honeymoon. The two Frank sisters mischievously intrude on this idyl, very briefly.

Various sources have claimed that Otto Frank operated a jam factory in Amsterdam. That's not true. The factory actually manufactured a brand-name form of pectin, an ingredient of jam and jelly that was often purchased by housewives in a time when home-made preserves were common. Here, we see clips from an industrial film in which the preparation of Otto Frank's product is demonstrated ... by no less than Miep Gies, the Dutch woman who helped hide the Frank family from the Nazis.

We also see a brief clip from a film produced by the Dutch government under Nazi occupation: an indoctrination film for fire-watch officers. The makers of this documentary have selected a clip from that film which shows a bird's-eye view of Amsterdam ... and they have spotlighted the roof of the building in which Anne and her family hid for so many desperate months.

We get a few glimpses of the actual diary, and pages in Anne's handwriting. Unfortunately, this documentary's narration manages to perpetuate a myth that was started by the stage dramatisation 'The Diary of Anne Frank': namely, it implies that the last sentence Anne wrote in her diary, before the Nazis broke in, was 'In spite of everything, I still believe that people are basically good at heart.' Actually, Anne wrote several more pages after that ironic line. But this is an excellent documentary for schoolchildren, and adults will be fascinated by some visual material of Anne's life which is unavailable elsewhere. I rate this fine documentary a perfect 10 out of 10.

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