Fellow Movie Lovers
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (Sunday, April 11, 2010 at 9 PM on PBS)
How many times have we read, seen and anguished over the fate of the doomed Anne?
No matter how often, our nature prays for a different ending, a joyful conclusion, where the Franks and their neighbors emerge from their self- imposed imprisonment into a world purged of evil, a world where goodness takes it rightful place on the throne of humanity.
Let us imagine an adult Anne (she would be approaching her eighty-first birthday) an accomplished Anne, a writer, a doctor, wife, mother, grandmother? She would be lined, arthritic, but like the finest steel, strong of mind and character because of her wartime experiences. Maybe she would have been recruited by Jewish Organizations to speak world wide about her travails or maybe her Diary would have remained buried, waiting for a Lily Koppel (The Red Leather Diary) to resurrect its author and breathe life into its long comatose pages. These fanciful speculations, are simply whimsical, wishful hopes; “if onlys”, slaughtered by reality.
This PBS production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” should be seen by all. Anne (perfectly portrayed by Ellie Kendrick) is a modern young woman; she embraces the diary she receives on her thirteenth birthday, days before her family’s clandestine exile in the attic of a commercial building in Amsterdam; she names her diary Kitty a homage to her beloved cat left behind. The year is 1942, she has less than three years to live, but live she does and records every meaningful moment. Anne is universal, like all thirteen year olds she feels the frustrations of puberty, patronizing adults, confinement; striving for individuality amongst those barricaded in the memory of the life they have been excommunicated from, clairvoyance terrifying!
Socrates said “an unexamined life is not worth living” and Anne dissects her microscopic universe and its inhabitants with wisdom and understanding far surpassing her youth. Through bombings and daily fear of betrayal she fills her diary with hope, love and a feisty fight for her keen sense of individuality.
This production, so different from the 1959 version (Millie Perkins) lacks sentimentality therefore is more contemporary in its approach. Watching these caged people who strive religiously to maintain their dignity (the men donned ties and jackets everyday) and knowing their dismal future is brutally poignant.
Anne dies of typhus in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, three months shy of her sixteenth birthday. In questioning why, I have concluded that we all live as long as ordained by the gods or fate. Anne in her miniscule minute on this earth has gifted mankind a treasure of infinitesimal proportions; she is the icon, the patron saint of survival, courage and beauty in a world where light was anathema and bleakness prevailed. She fulfilled in fifteen years her destiny!
PBS is to be lauded and applauded for bringing Anne back to life!