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Theatre / The Diary of Anne Frank

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"We try and hold on to some kind of ideals, when everything - ideals, hope, everything is being destroyed."
Anne Frank

The 1955 Pulitzer-Prize winner for Drama, The Diary of Anne Frank was Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett's dramatization of Holocaust victim Anne Frank's diary (usually referred to as The Diary of a Young Girl, which was the title of the first edition). An Academy-Award winning film version, staring Shelley Winters, was released in 1959.

It chronicles Frank's time as a Jewish refugee in Amsterdam hiding from Nazi forces with her family. Throughout her stay in a businessman's house, Frank wrote her observations of the world around her in her diary. That is, until, the Nazis finally find her.

This work features examples of:

  • Artistic License: The play and The Film of the Play take some liberties with the source material. Certain details, such as Dussel's allergy to cats (and the resulting conflict with Peter, who has a greater attachment to the cat than in the diary), the Hanukkah celebration, the fight over food (and threats to evict the Van Daans) immediately before the announcement of D-Day, and the sequence of events documenting precisely how the Annex residents were caught, are nowhere found in the diary itself. Certain scenes, such as the Annex residents' learning about D-Day and Anne's first kiss, play out very differently between the diary and the two adaptations. Also, certain statements from the diary are taken out of context, to the extent that the changes alter, even contradict, the statements' original meanings.
  • As the Good Book Says...: At the start of the Chanukah scene, the Frank family and their friends read Psalm 121 from the KJV Bible, which is also part of the Tanakh in Judaism.
  • The Cavalry: Through most of the story, the Allies are fighting to retake Europe from the Germans, which the characters are eagerly awaiting. They won't make it in time, unfortunately.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: Only one character survives. This of course reflects historical fact.
  • Daddy's Girl
  • Downer Ending / Foregone Conclusion: The Franks' hiding spot is betrayed to the Nazis.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Subverted to hell and back. Anne and her family deliberately choose to be hidden away to keep from being murdered by the Nazis.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Several of the printings of the diary, as well as the play and The Film of the Play. Face it, there was no way some of the material, particularly the sexual discussions, would have made it past the Moral Guardians.
  • Roman à Clef: Hermann, Auguste and Peter van Pels are known in the diary as the Van Daans, with Auguste known in the diary as Petronella while Peter's and Hermann's first names are kept.
    • Fritz Pfeffer the dentist, is known in the diary as Albert Dussel.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Lampshaded:
    Anne Frank: In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.
  • Sole Survivor: Out of the people in the hiding spot, only Otto Frank survived the concentration camps.
  • Token Minority: One of the people hiding in the attic is an ethnic Jew, but follows the Christian faith.note 
  • The Unfavorite: Anne gets upset when her mother Edith wishes that she would be as quiet and well-behaved as her sister, Margot.
  • Your Tomcat Is Pregnant: Inverted.