Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 23rd, 2009
This is a new release of the film, and its main interest, for those who already have a copy, is the meatier set of extras (even though some on the other disc are now gone). As for the film itself, what I said before still goes, so once again, I quote myself.
“During the German occupation of Holland, two Jewish families take refuge in an Amsterdam attic. After some months, they are joined by a dentist. The tensions and friendships ebb and flow in this confined space, and the two-year period is chronicled in her diary by Anne, who is thirteen when the hiding begins.
“Given that the film is scripted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, from their Broadway play, and the film’s locations are essentially limited to this one set, one might expect a very stagebound, static movie. But director George Stevens keeps his camera very mobile, and any claustrophobia we feel is due to the situation, not the limitations of the picture. Unfortunately, at 180 minutes, the movie is overlong. In the role of 13-year-old Anne, 19-year-old model Mille Perkins looks like, well, a 19-year-old model, and her Audrey Hepburn glamour undermines the film’s efforts towards authenticity.”
The transfer is the same. Thus: “The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is good, with a print in nice shape. Nice, but not perfect: the credits are grainy, and now and then there are some very grainy shots where the black-and-white suddenly turns harsh. For the most part, the grain is minimal, the blacks are fine, and the shadings of gray are excellent. There is some edge enhancement visible, little bits of minor damage (such as flicker) now and then, but by and large, taking aged into consideration, this is a good transfer.”
The original release had a 4.0 track, and none of the others that the box promised. That problem is rectified this time around, with 5.1, 4.0 and Spanish Mono choices. But a new problem has surfaced. Though the music sounds good (the 5.1 mix is a bit warmer than the 4.0), and there are no issues with wraparound dialogue, the mix is extremely faint, requiring a rather excessive cranking of the volume knob.
Commentary Track: The same as before: “On Side A, there is a commentary by George Stevens, Jr (son of the director, and who was associate producer and 2nd unit director on the film) and Millie Perkins. They have many interesting behind-the-scenes memories, and recount some very moving encounters with Otto Frank – Anne’s father and the only survivor of the ordeal.”
Side B allows one to view all the featurettes as one long documentary, running a total of 86:43. The individual entries, almost all hosted by Stevens, Jr., are as follows:
“George Stevens in WWII”: This establishes the career and life context of the director, and gives us a sense of why this film would be important to him.
“The Making of The Diary of Anne Frank: A Son’s Memories”: The most substantial featurette, along with the next (both almost half an hour long), and the one that gives us the best overview of the film as a whole.
“The Diary of Anne Frank: Memories from Millie Perkins and Diane Baker”: The actors who played the two sisters weigh on on their experiences.
“Shelley Winters and The Diary of Anne Frank.”
“The Sound and Music of The Diary of Anne Frank”: A more technical piece, and one that makes one wish the sound on the feature itself were stronger.
“The Diary of Anne Frank: Correspondence”: Read by Stevens, Jr., there are some remarkable documents here, especially Otto Frank’s thoughts (very kind indeed) about Perkins.
As for the other extras:
Fox Movie Channel Presents Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman: (!4:06) A television introduction to an airing of the film.
Interactive Pressbook Gallery.
The Fox Studio Classics release was a nice bit of work, but this is a definite improvement. The new extras are very strong.