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Anne Frank Remembered

Anne Frank Remembered
Columbia TriStar
1995 / Color / 1:66 flat letterboxed / 122 min. / Street Date March 9, 2004 / 24.96
Starring Kenneth Branagh, Glenn Close, Anne Frank, Miep Gies, Edith Frank, Margot Frank, Otto Frank
Cinematography Barry Ackroyd
Film Editor Karen Steininger
Original Music Carl Davis
Written, Produced, Directed by Jon Blair

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

This documentary production was suggested as a companion piece to George Stevens' The Diary of Anne Frank, but it stands by itself. We're given a keenly observed portrait of a mischievous, somewhat troublesome but adorable little girl struggling to live under terrible circumstances. The true account of Anne Frank's short life as recalled by her surviving friends and relatives is actually more captivating.

I can't imagine a more thorough look at this subject, or one done in better taste. Jon Blair allied himself with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, a museum of the girl's life, and there is more than photo and filmed coverage here to tell the story. What's more, by being told from many points of view - from Miep Gies, the woman who hid the Franks and their friends, and a couple of surviving girlfriends, we get a deeper picture of the girl whose diary became a document of the entire holocaust.

Blair's interviews are shot in Amsterdam and in the various camps that Anne was sent to after her capture. We get a full picture of her family's past and her father's business dealings and the sad reasons he thought Holland would be a safe haven from the Nazis. Anne Frank Remembered is only a little more than half over when the Franks are captured - and the docu continues with the full account of the family's splitting up in the camps and their terrible fates. There are even eyewitness interviews with campmates who saw her not long before she died. It's better than just touching or heart-tugging, it's the compelling truth told clearly and simply.

The narration by Kenneth Branagh is even and free of unnecessary dramatics. Glenn Close reads the extracts from the famous diary. The photography is excellent and the personalities we meet charming. It isn't a sob-fest or a testimonial rally - several witnesses are quick to point out that little Anne was a willful little troublemaker (we only like her more when we hear about this) and that her diary was probably biased and unfair about the old dentist she had to share a room with. But we understand.

Sony TriStar's DVD of Anne Frank Remembered looks and sounds great and comes off as a superior docu in every way. English and Spanish subs will aid the hearing-challenged. There aren't any extras, however.

Director Jon Blair saves his best stroke for the end. When the story wraps up and we're thinking about the loss to poor Otto Frank, we suddenly see some home movies from 1941, taken at the apartment building where the Franks lived. Some newlyweds come down the steps, and then the home movie buff takes a couple of shots up at people looking out of windows and watching the little scene in the street. That's when we get a brief look at the only known moving-picture footage of Anne peering out of a window, younger than when she wrote her diaries but just as curious. It's a great ending.

On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Anne Frank Remembered rates:
Movie: Excellent
Video: Excellent
Sound: Excellent
Supplements: none
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: March 8, 2004

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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