The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) – Review

In Nazi occupied Netherlands, a young girl known as Anne Frank (Millie Perkins), must hide in the attic of a condiment factory with her parents, sister, and another small family, along with an old dentist, who all must live in fear that they are not heard or seen for the duration of their stay. The tale chronicles the Nazi threat they had to live with as well and family dynamics that ensued. An at times frightening, overwhelming and touching movie that is more than worth a watch.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Director: George Stevens
Writers: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett
Starring: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Gusti Huber

Anne Frank’s story is one that many of us know well and have read about in recent times, highlighting one of the worlds greatest atrocities eighty years ago through the eyes of a thirteen year old. Interestingly, the movie, directed by George Stevens and released in 1959, was actually based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1955 play of the same name, rather than the book, The Diary of a Young Girl, released by Contact Publishing in Amsterdam in 1947.

One aspect of the production worth highlighting would be the suspense of certain scenes, particularly one, which was done so expertly that I’d lean towards it being one of the most intense scenes of any film I’ve seen in recent memory. No overly dramatic music was injected, nor were any unnecessary moments of action – a scene that made the entire flick worthy of watching on its own. Along with the suspense, there were also scenes of emotion, fear and tension, which only aided the releases success.

With that being said, it’s always difficult to critique a film covering such a sensitive and well-known historical subject such as the one in The Diary of Anne Frank, but there were some sticking points. The first being the casting of the character of Anne Frank, who looked and at times acted older than her depicted early-teen age, and the second being the length of the film, which stood at almost three-hours. There were certainly moments within the runtime which could have been trimmed

In terms of the cast, Millie Perkins, despite being twenty-three, adopted the role of the thirteen year old Anne Frank, while Joseph Schildkraut and Gusti Huber portrayed her parents, Otto and Edith, respectively. Elsewhere, primary support reigned in from Shelley Winters, Lou Jacobi, Richard Beymer, Diane Baker and Ed Wynn, who represented the rest of the people trapped inside the boundaries of the Dutch home that each of them were concealed in.

All in all, the movie may not have depicted Anne Frank’s diary word for word, as covered by some critics, but as a standalone feature that covers the brutality of World War 2 from a slightly different slant that others of a similar fashion have, in my eyes, this should be labelled as one of the most touching and poignant that’s ever been made – a must watch.

“I want to go on living even after I’m dead.”

Anne Frank – The Diary of Anne Frank


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