A compelling story is one that changes the reader’s opinion or feelings towards a given subject. A compelling film is one that significantly impacts the viewer emotionally and stays with them long past the running screen time. A successful documentary combines both aspects of story and film to make a poignant and, perhaps, huge impact on its audience.
Remembering Anne Frank is not just a documentary film: it is an experience. The story is conveyed so strongly that viewer’s emotions run high through the entire duration of 120 minutes. There is not a moment in the course of the film that allows for the viewers mind to wander. You feel as though you are in the story, reliving Anne’s horrific experiences. Anne is an emblem of the holocaust, whose story became a publishing phenomenon.
The documentary is set in the present, focusing on the past and the impact of the events of the Holocaust. The use of narrative contrasted with interviews and archival footage is of award-winning quality. Through the parallel use of these components the viewer gets an engaging view into the life of Anne Frank. The films strengths lie in how the story is conveyed. The use of distinguished, clear voices for narration make the story easy to follow, and the characters relatable.
During Anne’s life it was outlawed to be Jewish. No area of Jewish life was excluded from German control. She couldn’t change her identity, nor did she attempt to; she always kept an upbeat attitude in hopes the war would end the battles along with prejudice. She was optimistic that one day she would be seen as an individual, not just a Jew.
Everyone is familiar with the tragedy of Anne Frank’s life. This documentary takes us deeper; we see eye to eye with Anne and can understand her, deep down to who she really was. Through interviews with friends and familiar relations we learn that Anne was just like any other teenager: naughty at times, sweet, moody, anxious and optimistic that there was good in the world to be found no matter what the situation. Including multiple individuals accounts of the events adds to the heightened emotional, and human connections within the story.
We are introduced to Miep, who helped to keep the Frank family hidden and living comfortably. Miep tells a story of Anne that we have never heard before. We learn of the close bond and connection Anne shared with her father. Otto Frank was the ideal father, and Anne was blessed to have such a positive figure in her life. The purpose of Otto’s existence was to keep his family happy and healthy. He would do anything for his girls to be content in life. With the help of four employees Otto created secret hiding places filled with furniture, clothes and bedding to keep the family safe when it came time to hide.
Anne lived a happy, carefree life with her family consisting of one sister, and her mother and father. Anne kept much of her positive attitude even when the family was forced into hiding. Anne decorates her room in the secret room with movie posters and idols. She was determined to stay positive, and to live to see a change within the world.
Staying positive in such a situation is almost impossible. We see how much fight Anne had within her. Anne’s mother had given up and succumbed to complete despair and depression, yet Anne still had hope and did not break down. Profiles from other families and friends support how courageous a young girl that Anne was. Anne learns that it may be possible for her to document what is occurring in her life and have it potentially be shared with the world later to document the war. Anne begins a new diary, one that is meant to impact the world and spread the strength behind her voice to others.
Anne and her family eventually become captured, and placed in the hell of Nazi concentration camps. Watching the story unfold, your heart breaks at the point when the family is captured. This is a death sentence. The life they leave behind is no more, and will never be seen again. What little life lies ahead of the family, to many, is not worth living or preserving.
Miep loved the family, specifically Anne so much that she rescued their items that were left behind so they wouldn’t be picked up by Nazi looters. Among these items was Anne’s precious diary. Miep preserved this precious document until she found out Anne’s fate. At this point, she then passed the document to Anne’s father who chose to share it with the world.
The family perseveres for several weeks; then each female family member eventually succumbs to death due to the harsh conditions of the concentration camps. In the camps, all previous morals and values are non-existent. In order to survive, one had to eliminate all values and morals they once had. Despite having her own humanity reduced, she keeps faith in humanity. The staggering irony behind the situation is Otto lived to keep his girls happy and safe, in the end he is the only one that survived. A man that lived his life for his family had to live out his last years alone in the absence of his beloved family.
This film radiates such emotional power that it changes the viewer. One cannot watch this film, and feel the same about the past, the present and the state of humanity. The profile of Anne is just the story of one individual, one out of millions who suffered the wrath of Hitler. So many families were destroyed. Innocent lives lost. Humanity was reduced to levels of no respect or dignity for the dead. Bodies were thrown into piles naked and covered in snow with wide-open eyes. Millions of anonymous bodies thanks to Hitler’s failed vision.
The message that Anne Frank delivered is timeless. It speaks to all, and serves as a warning for those who discriminate. Different themes run throughout the story, including: innocence of victims, tragedy, faith and love. Many lessons are to be learned from Anne’s story. The fact that each of this individuals who faced such horrors, can be seen on screen interviewed with smiles, dignity and a strong sense of self brings comfort. It confirms that no matter what happens, the human spirit is in fact invincible, and if you fight for what you believe in, your spirit can never be broken.