"Dear Kitty": Remembering Anne Frank Review
The story of Anne Frank is one that many people know even if they haven’t read her diary – as I confess I hadn’t until a week before this review was written. The story of her and her family’s hiding in an Amsterdam warehouse for two years before their discovery and imprisonment and death in concentration camps, has been told and retold so many times – from a Hollywood movie to several documentaries – that you may, mistakenly, feel that nothing might be gained by reading the diary that is at its source. You would be wrong. As well as the day-to-day details of life in hiding, the diary reveals an attentive mind given to some surprisingly candid opinions on life and her fellow companions. Anne’s ambition was to be a writer, and in a sense she succeeded: you sense a talent in the diaries and wonder how it might have flowered if Anne’s life had not been cut so short.
It’s salutary to realise that Anne was born lived and died within the lifespan of people who are still alive today. Anne would have been only eighty if she were alive in 2009. One such person, who knew Anne personally, indeed was one of the helpers who kept the Franks and the other hidden Jews alive for so long, was Miep Gies. Remembering Anne Frank (51:22) is primarily an interview with her, conducted in 1998.
Born in Vienna in 1909 (and still alive as of this writing) as Hermine Santrouschitz, she was transported to the Netherlands to avoid the food shortages in Austria after World War I. The name “Miep” was given to her by her foster parents. She met Anne’s father Otto in 1933 when she applied for a job as a secretary at his spice firm, Opteka. She married Jan Gies in 1941.
Miep tells her life story to camera (dubbed into English). She relates how she and others, including her husband, helped the Frank family plus Mr and Mrs van Pels (called Van Daan in the diaries), their son Peter, and Fritz Pfeffer (alias Albert Dussel) hide in a sealed-off annexe of Opteka’s office building. Until August 1944, when due to a tip-off, the annexe was raided and everyone inside it arrested. Afterwards, Miep found Anne’s diary on the floor and kept it unread. Otto Frank was the only one of the eight to survive the concentration camps and after the war, Miep gave the diary to him. Otto arranged for the diary to be published, as had been Anne’s wish. He also set up the Anne Frank Foundation in Basle, and spent the rest of his life making sure the message of his daughter’s diary continues to be heard.
It’s a remarkable story, and this documentary justifies itself as a different angle on the familiar one. It is also valuable as the testimony of one of the few people left alive who knew the Frank family and their famous younger daughter. The interview is interspersed with extracts from Anne’s diary.
For a primer on Anne’s life – from the more familiar viewpoint, namely her own – the DVD includes a second documentary, The Short Life of Anne Frank (28:00). Narrated by Jeremy Irons, this is an overview of Anne’s story, from her birth in Germany, to the years of hiding and her arrest and death. This is illustrated by archive footage and stills. The final word, however, is given to Otto Frank, in an extract from an interview given before his death in 1980.
”Dear Kitty”: Remembering Anne Frank is released by Eureka (as part of their Oracle line) on a single-layered PAL-format disc encoded for all regions.
Both documentaries are presented in a ratio of 1.78:1 (presumably for television showings) but are not anamorphically enhanced. The picture in Remembering Anne Frank is shifted slightly upwards, so that the black bar at the top of the screen is thinner than the one at the bottom. Apart from the interview footage of Miep Gies (in colour), both films are almost entirely made up of archive footage mostly in black and white. This implies scratches, spots and flickers, and that is what you get – but you can hardly expect any better. In fact much of it is in remarkably good shape.
The sound is mono, and entirely functional, as the documentary is made up of narration and to-camera interviews. There are no subtitles available.
The only other extra is a weblink to a page displaying future releases from Eureka.
8 out of 10
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Last updated: 18/04/2018 22:31:28