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A young girl comes of age while hiding from the Nazis.
As a truckload of war survivors stops in front of an Amsterdam factory at the end of World War II, Otto Frank, a lone, dejected figure gets out and walks inside. After climbing the stairs to a deserted garret, Otto finds a girl's discarded glove and sobs, then is joined and comforted by Miep Gies and Mr. Kraler, factory workers who shielded him from the Nazis. After tonelessly stating that he is now all alone, Otto begins to search for the diary written by his youngest daughter Anne. Miep promptly retrieves the journal for Otto, and he receives solace reading the words written by his thirteen-year-old daughter three years earlier: The date is July 1942, and Anne begins by chronicling the restrictions placed upon Jews that drove the Franks, Otto, his wife Edith and their daughters Margot and Anne, into hiding over the spice factory. Sharing the Franks' hiding place are Hans and Petronela Van Daan and their teenage son Peter. Kraler, who works in the office below, and Miep, his assistant, have arranged the hideaway and warn the families that they must maintain strict silence during daylight hours when the workers are there. On the first day, the minutes drag by in silence. After work, Kraler delivers food and a box for Anne compiled by her father, which contains her beloved photos of movie stars and a blank diary. In the first pages of the diary, Anne describes the strangeness of never being able to go outside or breathe fresh air. As the months pass, Anne's irrepressible energy reasserts itself and she constantly teases Peter, whose only attachment is to his cat, Moushie. Isolated from the world outside, Otto schools Anne and Margot as the sounds of sirens and bombers frequently fill the air. Mrs. Van Daan passes the time by recounting fond memories of her youth and stroking her one remaining possession, the fur coat given to her by her father. The strain of confinement causes the Van Daans to argue and pits the strong-willed Anne against her mother. One day, Kraler brings a radio to the attic, providing the families with ears onto the world. Soon after, Kraler asks them to take in another person, a Jewish dentist named Albert Dussell. When Van Daan complains that the addition will diminish their food supply, Dussell recounts the dire conditions outside, in which Jews suddenly disappear and are shipped to concentration camps. When Dussell confirms the disappearance of many of their friends, the families' hopes are dimmed. One night, Anne dreams of seeing one of her friends in a concentration camp and wakes up screaming. In October 1942, news comes of the Allied landing in Africa, but rather than producing relief, the bombing outside the factory intensifies, fraying the refugees' already ragged nerves. On Hanukkah, Margot longingly recalls past celebrations and Anne produces little presents for everyone. When Van Daan abruptly announces that Peter must get rid of Moushie because he consumes too much food, Anne protests. Their argument is cut short when they hear a prowler breaks in the front door and the room falls silent. Peter then sends an object crashing to the floor while trying to catch Moushie, and the startled thief grabs a typewriter and flees. A watchman notices the break-in and summons two Gestapo officers, who search the premises, shining their flashlights onto the bookcase that conceals the attic entrance. The families wait in terror until Moushie knocks a plate from the table and meows, reassuring the officers that the noise was caused by a common cat. After the officers leave, Otto, hoping to foster faith and courage, leads everyone in a Hanukkah song. In January 1944, Anne, on the threshold of womanhood, begins to attract Peter's attention. When Miep brings the group a cake, Dussell and Van Daan bicker over the size of their portions and then Van Daan asks Miep to sell his wife's fur coat so that he can buy cigarettes. After Kraler warns that one of his employees asked for a raise and implied that something strange is going on in the attic, Dussell dourly comments that it is just a matter of time before they are discovered. Anne, distraught, blames the adults for the war which has destroyed all sense of hope and ideals. When she storms out of the room, Peter follows and comforts her. Later, Anne confides her dreams of becoming a writer and Peter voices frustration about his inability to join the war effort. In April 1944, amid talk of liberation, the Franks watch helplessly as more Jews are marched through the streets. Tensions mount, and when Van Daan tries to steal some bread from the others, Edith denounces him and orders him to leave. As Dussell and Van Daan quarrel over food, word comes over the radio of the Normandy invasion and Van Daan breaks into tears of shame. Heartened by the news, everyone apologizes for their harsh words, and Anne dreams of being back in school by the fall. By July 1944, the invasion has bogged down and Kraler is hospitalized with ulcers. Upon hearing that the Gestapo has found the stolen typewriter, Anne writes that her diary provides her a way to go on living after her death. After the Van Daans begin to quarrel once more, Peter declares that he cannot tolerate the situation and Anne soothes him by reminding him of the goodness of those that have come to their aid. Their conversation is interrupted by the sirens of an approaching Gestapo truck. As Anne and Peter bravely stand arm in arm certain of their impending arrest, they passionately kiss. As the German soldiers break down the bookcase entrance to the hideout, Otto declares they no longer have to live in fear, but can go forward in hope. Back in the present, Otto tells Miep and Kraler that on his long journey home after his release from the concentration camp he learned how Edith, Margot and the others perished, but always held out hope that perhaps Anne had somehow survived. Otto sadly reveals that only the previous day in Rotterdam he met a woman who had been in Bergen-Belsen with Anne and confirmed her death. Otto then glances at Anne's diary and reads, "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart," and reflects upon his daughter's unshakeable optimism.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||New York premiere: 18 Mar 1959|
|Release Date:||1959||Production Date:||
A George Stevens Production
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
|Sound:||4-Track Stereo (magnetic prints), Mono (optical prints)||Production Co:||Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.|
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Valiant effort, but...
Stevens and cast try hard, but the film is labored and unconvincing. Perkins' performance has been criticized, and it is true that we mostly see an...
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kevin sellers 2015-12-15
I guess, on an anti Communism website somewhere, is Jack's opinion of this movie.
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