For those unfamiliar, Anne Frank was a Jewish 13-year-old living in Amsterdam during the Nazi occupation. With more and more Jews being taken into concentration camps, Anne’s father arranged for the family to hide in a hidden apartment above the office he once worked in, where they stayed for two years (sharing the close quarters with another family and a single man). The family was eventually betrayed, and all were taken to the camps, where Anne later died of illness. But she left behind her diary, which accounted the entire ordeal in intimate detail. Only her father survived the war, and upon discovering the diary (and with it, her dream of being a published author), he submitted it to publishers. In the decades since, it’s become a seminal work, and part of the curriculum of many history and literature classes in schools around the world.
She didn’t have much friend in her life so she puts her sorrows, sufferings, joys – everything in journal. After some months, she has to go to a hiding which she refers as the ‘Secret Annexe’. There, she meets a new family – the van Daans. As the story continues, her life as a teenager, family affairs, relationships and sorrows reveal. It will surely make you moved! I can find almost no information about this film online, in English or Japanese. I have no idea if it was successful or not. What I can say is when you take the touching subject matter aside, it’s not a great anime. If the cinematography makes one think of an intensely bad play, the dialogue does not help. We sit still from far away, watching characters speak in oddly informative arguments, and then overact, all without moving their faces much. Entire scenes play out from a single, unmoving camera angle, with not a single cut.
The creators managed to portray Anne really well as an average teenager, with her strengths and her flaws. The other people around her are also wonderfully characterized: but when there is no interpersonal action to be had, Anne moves slowly, maddeningly slowly, in every possible interaction with the world around her, accompanied at times by the funerary, droning score of British minimalist composer Michael Nyman. The story is also unlike any other WWII movie I’ve seen so far. Most deal with the horrors of death and destruction. However, this movie is about the fear of death and destruction. Anne and her family, along with a number of other people were locked away for two years, without ever going outside. Kudos to Madhouse for focusing on a slow methodical take on an otherwise grizzly storyline.
I’m very surprised at how little known this movie is. The story is still haunting and tragic — the book is so widely known for a reason. But I can’t think of a worse way to experience the story than watching this film. As supplies begin to dwindle and relationships grow more complex and heated, Anne continues to write, dreaming of a life in which she is free. It did a wonderful job in portraying the setting without falling into stereotypes. It’s a claustrophobic movie which for its majority just plays out inside one single house. it’s a real recommendation for those looking for a movie and don’t mind the lack of action. But, strip away the subject matter and it’s just another ho-hum anime. Thumbs in the middle.