Anne Frank Remembered

on February 23, 1996 by Kevin Courrier
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This meticulously straightforward account of the life and legacy of Anne Frank traces her life from early childhood in pre-WWII Amsterdam to death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp just weeks before the Third Reich fell. Though the story of this courageous and charismatic girl is well known, filmmaker Jon Blair extends that familiarity by shifting his perspective to eyewitnesses who knew her and the Franks.
The overall effect is overwhelming, because it transforms Anne Frank from a postwar icon back into a human being. Rather than reports from the static confines of historical accounts and familiar images, the film brings Frank magically to life, as in one brief moment when she is seen, moving and smiling, in a window above a long-past wedding. Blair deftly uses numerous photos and family letters, along with shots from the Frank home in which the family hid from the Nazis after the Occupation, to fill in areas where the diary left off. If the film has a failing, it's the conventional style in which it's told, with Kenneth Branagh sounding like a seasoned BBC announcer. (Glenn Close reads diary excerpts.) The voiceover material doesn't match the emotional power of those moments when Anne Frank comes alive without us having to be told a thing. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh and Glenn Close. Directed, written and produced by Jon Blair. A Sony Classics release. Documentary. Not yet rated. Running time: 122 min.
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