1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Compelling and fascinating.
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
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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