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The Diary of Anne Frank I read lots of books as a child, and the protagonists – Laura Ingalls Wilder, Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara and countless others – still live in my mind, heart and imagination. But one heroine’s story continues to echo through my work as a writer, and my heritage as a Jewish woman. I’ve written about her and been inspired by her countless times (including, most recently, here at Beliefnet). Anne Frank lives, not just in my heart, but in the collective of humanity. The irony of course is that she lives, because she died. And because she died – and because a fissure in humanity was to blame for her death – we are compelled to revisit Anne’s attic, in print, and on film.
The latest trip back to the secret annex is the critically acclaimed BBC miniseries, now being released in two different editions: the movie edition and the miniseries edition. While the elements of the story and the characters are the same, there are small touches that show you a different side to living in the annex.
Gone is whatever gloss there might have been on the experience of living as a self-contained society above Otto Frank’s business in Amsterdam; in this version, you see the moments that the original film and Broadway show deemed unfit for the world to see, because they depicted Anne as an awkward teen going through puberty. Anne’s narrative in this version – the only film version approved by the Anne Frank Fonds – is more authentic, more unexpurgated, and better depicts the awkward struggles of a girl becoming a woman under extreme circumstances. Particularly striking is the tense relationship between Anne and her mother, and the long moments that the camera spends capturing the awkwardness of new arrival Mr. Dussel as Anne’s new roommate. Those two relationships in particular illustrate Anne’s alienation – even within the close quarters, she really feels alone..
This version is different than others you’ve seen, and is extremely well-done – Ellie Kendrick is, in particular, an eerie doppelganger of the girl we’ve come to know through her diary. But the film battles the perennial challenge of films about the Holocaust in general, and Anne Frank, specifically: it’s hard to watch, because no matter how the script’s words change, the ending is always, painfully, the same.
“The Diary of Anne Frank – Movie Edition” and “The Diary of Anne Frank – BBC Mini Series Edition” are now both available on DVD from Well Go USA Inc.

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