Marking the 90th birthday of Anne Frank. One secret diary. One imaginary friend. The moving testimony of five survivors.
This, I feel, is a strong film for the holiday season. Reminding people of life and that it is always worth living. And to care for others, be kind. And to be mindful of the horrors and misadventures many must go through.
I walked into the film wondering whether her story needed to be retold. I left, convinced and furious that of course it still does. Go and see this film. And take your kids.
The filmmakers have taken the known facts of Anne’s life and set them against the stories of five other Jewish women, all in their 90s now, all of whom survived the Holocaust. One of them even met Anne. Their stories are a moving reminder of a generation that was all but destroyed by hatred. The film gently, persuasively and deliberately reminds us that, in our own way, we perpetuate this insanity today with our refugee camps, our borders and walls and all the other toxicity we bring to the world when we choose to believe that any person is fundamentally different to ourselves.
I was afraid the film would be depressing or another one of those “let’s look at the tragedy of war” films. I wondered if this story still needed to be told. But I found it very, very good. Inspiring, and powerful. Well edited, and securing Helen Mirren was genius! She holds the narratives together, reading – beautifully – from Anne’s diary and also providing an unobtrusive, but perfectly calibrated narration.
When the war ended in 1945, Anne’s father Otto was the only surviving member of the family. He returned to Amsterdam and was there given his daughter’s diary, which had been found after the family were taken. Otto was astonished at the power and maturity of the writing. In 1947 – to honour Anne’s often stated wish to be an author or a journalist – he had it published. Today, The Diary of Anne Frank has been translated into more than sixty languages and has sold over 30 million copies. It has been quoted by Nelson Mandela, adapted for stage and screen and is regarded as one of the most important books of the 20th century.
Italy 2019, 91 min, rated M (adult themes)
Directed by Anna Migotto & Sabina Fedeli
Narrated/guided by Helen Mirren