It can be hard to be objective when it comes to reviewing entertainment based on historical fact even worse when it is a story that you have understood your entire life. As May sweeps draw to a close, ABC presents another biographical-based miniseries, this time taking up the challenge of accurately presenting the life of Anne Frank.
“The Diary of Anne Frank” is the most read non-fiction work in the world after the Bible. Anne”s diary has become an introduction to the Holocaust for many, and continues to challenge even the most pessimistic of us to accept that there is hope in the midst of great tragedy. This young girl, a complete stranger, has imposed her story onto all of us now ABC is not only bringing you a visual representation of the novel, but filling us in on what became of Anne after she left the “secret annex.”
The movie is not based on the diary itself, but takes its story from Melissa Mller”s own biography of Anne. The miniseries takes us to Amsterdam before the beginning of the war, revealing a childish and curious Anne whose only care in life was her dreams of becoming a modern women. Eventually these dreams turn into hope as Anne and her family went into hiding. Hidden away, Anne lives out the most important years of her life confined in an attic with only her diary as an outlet for her pain.
Of course we all know the story and how it ends, but like many of the previous ABC miniseries (“Me and My Shadows: The Judy Garland Story,” “The Three Stooges”) “Anne Frank” takes on a life of it”s own. We tingle at Anne and Peter”s first kiss. We shiver as Anne”s hair is shorn. We laugh at the jokes. We smile at Anne”s defiance. Yet, we never seem to forget that tragedy is looming. Besides, just when we think that it”s over, we are pelted over the head with the realization that for the first time we are actually going to see the end result. The distance once held between the words on the page and us is now depicted on the screen, provided the answers that we longed for yet didn”t want to believe.
For those who are expecting another cheesy miniseries, you are in for quite a surprise. Hannah Taylor Gordon (“Jakob the Liar”) portrays Anne with such conviction that you often forget she is just a girl posing in someone else”s shadow. “Anne Frank” tries to present us with an overall picture, one created from the nuances of “trivial” events in a teenager”s life: The struggle to be seen as a woman in the eyes of adults, the rift between mother and daughter, the blossoming of young love and the closeness of a father and his daughter. Anne”s faith, and her constant struggle to stay above the sadness and trauma that surrounded her, center the movie and make it more than a standard screen adaptation. Performances by big-name stars like Ben Kingsley (“Schindler”s List”) as Otto Frank and Lili Taylor (“The Haunting”) as Miep Gies top an entire cast of great performers, each bringing their own emotion to their characters and giving us one more reason to sit back and just be taken in by the story.
The miniseries will air in two parts starting Sunday, May 20 and concluding on Monday with a special commercial free final hour. The movie not only delves into the lives of Miep and other friends of Anne”s, but will reveal the identity of the Franks” betrayers as well.
It is an amazement to behold the courage and faith that one little girl could bring to life. Her story may only be but one of many that are still untold, but Anne”s seems to stay with us. This miniseries not only faithfully depicts her story, but improves our own understanding of a beautiful and innocent girl that lost her life among six million others.