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Film / The Diary of Anne Frank

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Anne: In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
Otto Frank: She puts me to shame.

The Diary of Anne Frank is a 1959 drama film directed by George Stevens. It was based on Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett's Broadway play of the same name, which in turn was adapted from The Diary of a Young Girl.

It tells the story of Anne Frank, a Dutch Jewish girl who went into hiding in 1942 at the age of 13 with her family, concealed in a hidden annex in the office building where her father had worked. The family remained hidden in the "secret annex" for two years, with young Anne writing in her diary the whole time.

The film's cast includes Millie Perkins as Anne Frank, Joseph Schildkraut as Otto Frank (repeating his stage role), Shelley Winters as Petronella van Daan, and Ed Wynn as Albert Dussell.

This work features examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: Like in the play.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The movie is nearly 3 hours long.
  • Alone in a Crowd: In spite of having a loving family and great social life, Anne still feels alone without a person to consider a one true friend.
  • Almost Kiss: Anne and Peter do this in the attic, but Otto calls for the two to come down, as Miep and Mr. Kraler have arrived.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The film is presented as Otto reading his daughter Anna's diary.
  • Artistic License: Again, like in the play, only with more added scenes.
  • Book Ends: The film starts and concludes with Otto making his way back to the Secret Annex, reading from Anne's diary.
  • Bookcase Passage
  • The Cavalry: Through most of the story, the Allies are fighting to retake Europe from the Germans, for which the characters are awaiting. They won't make it in time, unfortunately.
  • Daddy's Girl: Anne absolutely loves her father yet is cruel and distant towards her mother, thinking she doesn't understand her at all.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
  • Downer Beginning: The movie opens with Otto, who was the only one to survive the concentration camps, revisiting the Secret Annex in grief of the loss of his late family.
  • Downer Ending: The Franks's hiding spot is betrayed to the Nazis. Only Otto Frank survived.
  • Fainting: Anne faints when the Nazis almost find their hiding place
  • Get Out!: When Mr. Van Daan steals bread in the middle of the night, Edith is so furious that she demands that he and Mrs. Van Daan leave the Annex to find another hiding place. The news of D-Day raises everyone’s spirits and causes everyone to apologize to each other and make up.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Anne and Margot's relationship; Anne is expected to act more like Margot, who is quiet and polite, while Anne is energetic and speaks her mind. This causes Anne to further feel like no one understands her at all and harbors resentment towards her sister.
  • Historical Beauty Update: Millie Perkins isn't merely somewhat more conventionally attractive than the real Anne Frank, people thought she resembled Audrey Hepburn in many scenes and on top of that outside the movie people praised her looks as similar to a young Elizabeth Taylor (which is even commented in some moments of the movie). Likewise with Shelley Winters as Mrs. Van Daan and Richard Beymer as Peter. Also Margot was considered genuinely pretty in real life but the producers still manages to take it to a whole other level by casting Diane Baker as her.
  • Hope Spot: When D-Day finally arrives, everyone in the Annex is ecstatic and are optimistic that the Allies will win the war and they will be liberated. Tragically, the Nazis find them before that happens.
  • Irony: Peter's cat Mouschi nearly gets the inhabitants arrested by wandering around freely, and Peter makes a loud noise trying to catch him. The cat ends up saving them when he meows after eating and knocking over toast, affirming the Gestapo that there is no one in the Annex but a stray cat.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Anne and Peter's first kiss is completely silhouetted.
  • Last Kiss: Anne and Peter share a desperate, passionate kiss before their impending arrest.
  • Meaningful Name: Played with; Dussel, the pseudonymous last name of Fritz Pfeffer, means "nitwit" in German. However, in the movie, Dussel mentions that he was born in Holland, as were his father and grandfather, so that makes him a native Dutchman despite being assigned a German last name as a pseudonym in the diary. Charlotte Kaletta, who posthumously married Fritz Pfeffer in 1950 (with the marriage retroactively in effect from May 31, 1937 until his death in 1944), felt that the pseudonym and character of Mr. Dussel was injurious to Pfeffer's life, since he was in real life a master of Hebrew and far from ignorant of Jewish traditions, in contrast to being portrayed by Ed Wynn, an actor known as "The Perfect Fool", and after the cancellation of his most recent TV series, had been urged by his son, Keenan Wynn, to pursue dramatic roles. In spite of the objections, Mr. Dussel's character name remained unchanged.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Anne becomes ashamed of the way she was cruel towards her mother - such as when she asked for Otto to comfort her after a nightmare instead, causing Edith to cry.
  • Nightmare Sequence: One night, while Anne is asleep, she has a nightmare about the concentration camps, with the "Sieg Heil" chants in the background. In her dream, Anne calls out for her friend Sanne, while outside, back in the Amsterdam streets, the Green police are patrolling the streets and a shooting takes place outside the Annex. Anne wakes up and screams out "Save me, save me! No, no!" After the house is awoken by Anne's shrill cry, her mother comes to comfort her.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: While the setting is in Amsterdam, almost all of the characters sound American.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: After Mr. Kraler fears that their hiding place may have been discovered when a downstairs employee gets suspicious and attempts to blackmail him, Margot becomes pessimistic, only for her mother and Anne to rebuke her:
    Margot: Sometimes I wish the end would come, whatever it is.
    Mrs. Frank: Margot!
    Margot: Then at least we'd know where we were.
    Mrs. Frank: You should be ashamed of yourself, talking that way! Think how lucky we are. Think of the thousands dying in the war every day. Think of the people in concentration camps.
    Anne: What's the good of that? What's the good of thinking of misery when you're already miserable? That's stupid. We're young, Margot and Peter and I. You grown-ups have had your chance. Look at us. If we begin thinking of all the horror in the world, we're lost. We're trying to hold on to some kind of ideals, when everything — ideals, hope — everything is being destroyed. It isn't our fault the world is in such a mess. We weren't around when all this started.
    Mrs. Frank [interrupting]: Now you listen to me—
    Anne: So don't try to take it out on us!
  • The Pollyanna: Even after experiencing the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust for two years, Anne still finds reason to stay optimistic and cheerful, believing there is still good in the world.
    Anne: We try and hold on to some kind of ideals, when everything - ideals, hope, everything is being destroyed.
  • Posthumous Character: All of the people in the hiding spot died, except for Otto.
  • Posthumous Narration: Outside the Framing Device, the bulk of the film is narrated by Anne as if she were writing in her diary, by which time she has died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Having been released in the '50s, there was no way the more mature material (such as the sexual discussions) from the diary would have been acceptable.
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending: After learning of the deaths of Mr. Dussel, the van Daans, his wife and daughters by asking holocaust survivors along the way when he makes his way back to the Annex, he reads the portion of Anne's diary that says "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart", and mentions "She puts me to shame", ultimately deciding to preserve her diary and memories for future generations to learn about.
  • Rousseau Was Right: In the end, Anne still believes in the good nature of people even after all the cruelty and atrocities committed by the Nazis.
    Anne: In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Mrs. Van Daan teases Peter by calling Anne his girlfriend, and he is embarrassed and annoyed.
    Peter: Mother, I asked you...would you please not say that?
    Mrs. Van Daan: Look, he's blushing. He's blushing!
    Peter: Please, I'm not, but... Leave me alone, will you?
    Mrs. Van Daan: What did I say? He acts like it was something to be ashamed of. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, to have a little girlfriend.
    Peter: That's crazy. She's only thirteen!
    Mrs. Van Daan: So what? You're sixteen. It's just perfect. Your father's ten years older than I am. Mr. Frank, I warn you - if this war lasts much longer, you and me, we're gonna be related.
    Otto Frank: Mazel tov.
  • Snow Means Love: While it is snowing outside the broken window of the attic, Anne and Peter share an intimate moment with Peter stroking her face (as she had snow and ink on it), resulting in the two gazing into each other's eyes and leaning closer to kiss.
  • Sole Survivor: Out of the people in the hiding spot, only Otto Frank survived the concentration camps.
  • Tempting Fate: A close call occurs during the bombing of Amsterdam on November 9, 1942:
    Mrs. Van Daan: Suppose they hit this house, what will we do? We can't go out into the street, what will we do?
    Mr. Dussel: If they hit this house, your worries will be over.
    [An English R.A.F. plane crashing shakes the house up a bit, and Peter comes downstairs to report the damage]
    Peter: That noise — that big explosion — they hit one of the English planes, it fell right in this block!
  • Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Anne doesn’t believe anyone will be interested in reading “the unbosomings of a 13 year old schoolgirl.”
  • You Talk Too Much!: Anne was called "Miss Quack Quack" because she keeps talking in class. This becomes Serious Business when she has to remain quiet for long periods of time in the Secret Annex.