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Shoah experts welcome Anne Frank TV drama

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Shoah experts welcome Anne Frank TV drama
Mala Emde, star of 'Meine Tochter Anne Frank'. Photo: DPA
14:53 CET+01:00
As the 70th anniversary of the death of Anne Frank approaches, TV network ARD unveils the first major German production of her famous story, to a warm welcome from specialists in the Holocaust victim's diaries.

Entitled "Meine Tochter Anne Frank" [My Daughter Anne Frank], the docudrama is based on the world famous diary written by Anne, but also includes interviews with her surviving school friends and genuine historical footage.

Director Raymond Ley places the diary itself at the heart of the piece, using voice-overs of extracts from Anne's writings, but also exploring her father's attempts to publish her world-famous journal.

A Spiegel reviewer wrote that "the film not only visualizes the diary, but simultaneously reflects the context of its origins, its own history and its effect."

A spokeswoman for the Anne Frank Educational Centre in Frankfurt told The Local that "it was an intriguing decision to retell the story in the format of a docudrama and from the perspective of Anne's father Otto Frank, in what was on the whole an ambitious production.

"However, one fault is how some questions were left open or unanswered, particularly the issue of whether the family's whereabouts were given away to the authorities."

Although the production aims to take up different perspectives, especially that of her father, the only survivor of the holocaust, Anne was still clearly the central figure. 

She is played by Mala Emde, 18, who brilliantly manages to capture her unwavering optimism, ambition, and intelligence.

Retelling Anne's story is a daunting task, but "Meine Tochter Anne Frank" manages to do so masterfully, managing to be moving without being overly sentimental.

The tragic nature of Anne's story and the wider context of the Holocaust mean that any production will be emotionally charged and moving, but in this case, as Die Zeit notes, "rarely are on-screen explorations of the Holocaust so perfectly unsentimental".

For a small production with a budget of only around €1 million, the film is visually inventive, with scenes of Anne writing at her desk and footage of world events being projected onto the walls around her a particular highlight.

In fact the drama is full of tranquil scenes in the Frank family's Amsterdam attic sanctuary, which contrasts with the chaos going on around them and the brutality that awaits them.

Any attempt to revisit such a dark chapter in recent history could spark controversy, but the merit of this effort is "beyond any doubt", Spiegel said.

Glowing reviews from the German press are justified, as Ley skillfully strikes the balance between the incredibly personal story of Anne Frank through her diary, and the universal significance of her experiences through survivors' testimonies.

"Meine Tochter Anne Frank" is a brilliant visual collage, that may not have covered every aspect of the story, but nonetheless acts as a credible on-screen memorial to Anne Frank and her family and a window into the experiences of Holocaust victims.  

By Matty Edwards
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