Art and Entertainment

Tina Fineberg/AP Photos
Ellie Kendrick smiles as she takes part in a panel discussion entitled "Anne Frank's Diary -
The Beauty that Remains" Tuesday April 6, 2010 at the 92nd Street Y in New York.

Film Reveals an Emotionally Complex, Artistic Anne Frank

April 11, 2010 06:00 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
PBS will air a new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank on Holocaust Remembrance Day, and provides extensive classroom resources to accompany the film. 

An Edgier Take

The film debuted as a miniseries on the BBC in January 2009. PBS has “re-edited” it to be a single, two-hour presentation, writes Mike Hale in a review for The New York Times.

Screenwriter Deborah Moggach primarily drew from Anne Frank’s published diary, resulting in a glimpse of “the unedited Anne: harshly critical of the people sharing her cramped hiding place (including her mother), self-dramatizing, sexually curious,” Hale writes. The film quickly establishes a setting: “rooms above Otto Frank’s offices” in Amsterdam where the Frank and van Pels families hid from the Nazis for two years.

The film is set to air on PBS’ Emmy-winning Masterpiece Classic on Sunday, April 11. Masterpiece Classic executive producer Rebecca Eaton is quoted in a PBS news release as saying, “[e]very generation needs to look at Anne from its own perspective,” and that “viewers will see Anne as a bright, charming, and difficult teenager—and as the gifted writer she was destined to become” in this new adaptation.

Writing for Variety, Andrew Barker says the new adaptation "could well become the new standard for high school classes and scholars, if not necessarily one for the ages," and credits actress Ellie Kendrick for her portrayal of Anne Frank. Hers is "perhaps the best Anne Frank yet committed to film," he writes, one that "imbues Anne with enough fire to suggest the artist she was on her way to becoming."

Background: Anne Frank

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany on June 12, 1929, the daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Holländer and younger sister of Margot Frank. 

At the beginning of 1933, Anne and her family fled Germany as the Nazi Party took over. Otto Frank learned of an opportunity to work for a Dutch company that sold pectin, and the family settled in Amsterdam. 

In July 1942, the Franks went into hiding in a secret apartment at 263 Prinsengracht, the same building where Otto Frank worked. Eventually four other Dutch Jews would join them: Fritz Pfeffer, and Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels.

Otto Frank was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust. After returning home from the Auschwitz concentration camp, once it was liberated by Russian troops in early January 1945, he soon found the diary of his younger daughter, Anne.

Written in Dutch while her family was in hiding, Anne Frank’s diary tells the story of a young woman’s internal struggle to understand and cope with Nazi occupation and anti-Semitism.

Anne Frank Postcard Surfaces

In 1937, Anne Frank wrote a card to her best friend, Samme Ledermann, for New Year’s. A Dutch schoolteacher named Paul van den Heuvel unearthed the card in an antique shop in 2008, and it was authenticated by the Anne Frank Museum.

According to BBC News, Van den Heuvel was rummaging around his father’s antique shop when he came across a 1937 New Year’s greeting card signed by the young diarist. “I just found it in a box, which probably came from an Amsterdam flea market," said the teacher.  

Reference: Learning about the Holocaust and The Diary of Anne Frank

Visit findingDulcinea’s “Learning About the Holocaust” page for a timeline of key events in the Holocaust, biographies of inspiring people from the Holocaust, items exploring the legacy of the Holocaust, and related books and films of interest.

PBS Masterpiece Learn offers selected resources to accompany the film, including The Diary of Anne Frank Teacher's Guide, which helps educators bring the film into the classroom. General Learning Links and interactive Literary/Author Timelines are also provided.

The PBS Masterpiece Web site for The Diary of Anne Frank is full of information about the film, such as cast and credits, characters and a synopsis. There's also an audio slideshow featuring the voice of Ellie Kendrick, the actress who plays Anne Frank; as well as a video Q&A with a relative of Anne Frank.

Additional resources include an interview with screenwriter Deborah Moggach, a discussion of "Anne Frank as a Writer," a video diary and Twitter discussion related to the film, and links to a slew of Anne Frank "Resources" found on the Web. You can also watch the film online between April 12-May 11, 2010.

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