6 March 2016 | Karl Self
A new perspective on a jaded story
There are many reasons to be wary of another movie about Anne Frank. First of, the diary has been turned into a film before -- with Audrey Hepburn as lead. Hard to beat. Then it's apparently yet another -- usually equally schlocky and moralistic -- German movie about the evil Nazi era to be fed to the yawning (school) classes. Consequently, Germany's largest news magazine Spiegel entitled its review of the movie "What school classes will be bored with next", and, much worse, Germany's largest tabloid Bild declared it "the most important film of the year". Leading actress Lea von Acken has been featured in all the gossip mags for weeks with her gushing about how awesomely brave and intelligent Anne Frank had been.
When I read Anne Frank's diary (originally entitled "The Rear House") as a school boy, I was hard pressed for sympathy. Not for the plight of the persecuted Jews in general, but for Anne Frank in particular. She seemed to be like one of those picture perfect girls who always did their homework on time and played violin as a hobby. Someone who wrote a diary to an imaginary friend called "Kitty" seemed to have been endowed with a rich inner life, one which I, for one, didn't care one bit for.
But luckily, all my expectations were unfulfilled. The 2016 offering of Anne Frank's diary is a fresh, important and eminently watchable movie. It really brings something new to an already full table. This isn't the censored 1950ies version of Anne, but a portrait of a feisty, often unbalanced, idiosyncratic and lonesome girl. She wrote the diary not because it was the girly thing to do, but because she didn't have anyone who understood her and whom she could communicate with. She was a girl who could be uncomfortable. Especially Anne and her elder sister are shown with unusual realism.
This movie might well give you a fresh perspective on a story you might have thought you already knew.