Filmed without embellishment, the film cries out the haunted thoughts of survivors fifty years after they bore witness to organized annihilation at a time when the world considered itself civilized.

ANNE FRANK REMEMBERED

A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.


"Anne Frank Remembered" is a silent scream. It is not that history's most unfathomable crime is any less vile in the abstract, but that the smallest details of one particular story can sear our being in a singular way. This film does that.

This documentary interviews people who knew the Frank family, fed them in hiding, stood with them in Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, and who, by some accident of luck that was denied the Franks (except Anne's father, Otto), survived the Holocaust. The spoken memories of these survivors transcend the written words of historians and journalists. Fifty years later, the memory of their ordeal reduces them variously to tears or silence. The mystery is that they have been able to rebuild their lives at all.

It was on July 5, 1942, that the Germans demanded that all Jews in Holland register for deportation. Anticipating this, Otto Frank had laid a false trail indicating his family had gone to Switzerland. They went instead to the attic he had carefully prepared above Opekta, the prosperous company he had built. From that point forward, four employees of the firm, at high risk to themselves and their families, fed and nourished the Franks as best they could every day for two years. Anne nourished her own spirit by writing in her diary.

The family lived in this claustrophobic confinement under constant threat of discovery until betrayal forced them into the Nazi extermination system. Their friend, Miep Gies, had come every day to that attic with food and news; at the end, she made two trips to the Gestapo in a failed effort to save the Franks.

From Westerbork Prison they watched the trains leave for the camps in Germany or Poland, until their small family began their trip by cattle car to the massive gas chambers and crematoria of Auschwitz. Starved, shaven, frozen, and diseased, Anne and her sister Margo were then sent to Bergen-Belsen, where they died one month before the Allied liberation. Fifty-thousand inmates died at that camp in 1945 alone.

The story of the Franks reminds us in a terrible way that beneath the calculated barbarism of their captors lay another equal cruelty, the elimination of a parent's primal need to protect a child. These parents were denied that effort.

Otto Frank survived and returned to live for seven years with the family of Miep Gies, who had helped them for so long. Miep, who had saved Anne's diary for her, gave it to Mr. Frank only after Anne's death was confirmed.

It is a great credit to the makers of this film that the narration by Kenneth Branagh and the diary readings by Glenn Close are quietly and appropriately unobtrusive. Filmed without embellishment, the film cries out the haunted thoughts of survivors fifty years after they bore witness to organized annihilation at a time when the world considered itself civilized.


Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 487
Running Time: 2h0m


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