Starring: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Richard Beymer
Director: George Stevens
Running Time: 179 mins
The Diary Of Anne Frank is an American film about the true story of Anne Frank, a teenage Jewish girl who was forced into hiding with her family and friends in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands during the Second World War.
You definitely know the story of Anne Frank, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to watch this film. On the one hand, it’s not a film entirely about the Holocaust, as most people relate to her diary, and although it puts into perspective some of the incredible suffering that ordinary people went through during the catastrophe, it is most of all a very personal coming-of-age tale that’s as sweet as it is deeply tragic, and although it isn’t always the world’s most consistently hard-hitting film at three hours long, it’s an inarguably important one.
What’s most interesting about this film is undoubtedly the story. Anne Frank’s diary has received acclaim over the decades for its emotional depth, and this film manages to replicate that on the big screen, by putting Frank’s own thoughts and feelings as she is forced to mature in the middle of a terrible situation right alongside the historical context of the Holocaust, and that’s what makes it a particularly interesting watch.
With a strong and confident performance from Millie Perkins, the character of Anne Frank is as clear as day throughout. As often vocal and outspoken as she is, she still appears as a child at heart, and particularly in the beginning of the story, isn’t quite able to grasp the sheer scale of terror that she is in.
On the one hand, that’s a very sad and affecting side to the story, portraying the loss of innocence at the hands of the ruthless Nazi machine, however there is an element to Anne Frank’s often childlike nature early on that gives the film a really strong sense of heart, and makes it a genuinely sweet coming-of-age drama at the same time.
And although the film lasts a full three hours, it focuses entirely on the years that the Franks and fellow people evading capture lived in the tiny annex. There is an element of that that feels a little too stationary, and the film doesn’t always do the best job at creating real tension over the course of its long runtime. However, what you do get is a really close and intimate look into the development of a teenage girl, as she begins to change from her childish innocence to a far more mature and strong individual.
Of course, part of the tragedy of the story of Anne Frank is that her youth was completely stolen away by the Nazis, but watching her grow so much in a relatively short period of time, and particularly while cramped together with a group of other not always compatible individuals, is really moving to see, and it proves one of the most riveting coming-of-age dramas, particularly ones that come from a true story, that you’ll see.
On the whole, The Diary Of Anne Frank is an unquestionably important film. It is very long, and not the most intensely suspenseful or dynamic watch, but what it does with the classic true story is beautiful, proving a riveting and moving coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of a truly tragic history, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.