The Diary of Anne Frank on PBS Masterpiece Theatre
by Del Harvey
Airing April 11, 2010 on PBS
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PBS brings this classic story of a young woman’s survival of one of history’s most brutal eras to life on April 11, Holocaust Remembrance Day. Starring Ellie Kendrick as Anne Frank, and featuring Felicity Jones, Iain Glen and Kate Ashfield. Adapted by Deborah Moggach (Pride and Prejudice, 2005) and directed by Jon Jones (Northanger Abbey, Cold Feet).
Anne Frank receives a diary for her thirteenth birthday in June 1942. The following month she and her family go into hiding in the secret annex behind her father’s business in Amsterdam to escape the Nazi roundup of Jews. An unusually perceptive writer, Anne records events in the annex over the course of the next two years.
Eventually, the Franks (Otto, Edith, and daughters Margot and Anne) are joined by the van Daans (Hermann, Petronella, and their teenage son Peter) and by Mr. Dussel, a middle-aged bachelor. Together, the eight Jews experience the stresses of air raids, food shortages, lack of privacy, break-ins, and the perpetual fear of being discovered,
But there are joys too: birthday parties, games, weekly baths, radio broadcasts, contact with sympathetic outsiders, and in due course the encouraging news that Allied troops have landed in France and are advancing against the Germans.
Through it all, Anne observes her little world with a sensitive and lively intelligence. She falls in love, falls out of love, plays childish pranks, and displays remarkable maturity. Then one day she finds her life’s vocation — if only she can live long enough to fulfill it.
For Jewish teenager Anne Frank (Ellie Kendrick), her diary is her one true friend and confidant. In it, she records the thoughts of a typical teen — only set against a backdrop of encroaching evil in Amsterdam during World War II. Stowed away behind a bookcase in a secret annex with her family and others to flee the Nazis, Anne experiences her time in hiding as an adventure. And, amidst closed quarters and random bomb blasts, Anne faces friction with family, a desire for independence and the first stirrings of young love. As Anne’s identity solidifies, so does her resolve to be a writer — her diary a tangible and remarkable record of a young woman’s first-hand observations of the Holocaust, and the innate goodness she still sees in people. Drawing on Anne Frank’s own words in the most accurate-ever adaptation of the revered memoir, Masterpiece presents The Diary of Anne Frank on Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2010.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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