During the German occupation of Holland, two Jewish families take refuge in an Amsterdamattic. After some months, they are joined by a dentist. The tensions and friendships ebb and flowin this confined space, and the two-year period is chronicled in her diary by Anne, who is thirteenwhen the hiding beings.
Given that the film is scripted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, from their Broadwayplay, and the film’s locations are essentially limited to this one set,…one might expect a verystagebound, static movie. But director George Stevens keeps his camera very mobile, and anyclaustrophobia we feel is due to the situation, not the limitations of the picture. Unfortunately, at180 minutes, the movie is overlong. In the role of 13-year-old Anne, 19-year-old model MilliePerkins looks like, well, a 19-year-old model, and her Audrey Hepburn glamour undermines thefilm’s efforts towards authenticity.
The case boasts English stereo, English mono, Spanish mono and French mono. Not so. Theonly language track is English 4.0. This led me to fear distressing surround voices and otherhazards of stereo remixes, but for the most part this sounds more like classy mono than distortedstereo. There are very few surround elements (even the music is low key in this department). Thevolume is rather low, but the sound is clear. Distortions are minimal, though there is theoccasional buzz or stereo fluctuation on the dialogue, and the music sounds a bit reedy (thoughthis is a film from 1959).
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen picture is good, with a print in nice shape. Nice, but notperfect: the credits are grainy, and now and then there are some very grainy shots where theblack-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 ofminor damage (such as flicker) now and then, but by and large, taking age into consideration,this is a good transfer.
On Side A, there is a commentary by George Stevens, Jr (son of the director, and assistantdirector on the film) and Millie Perkins. They have many interesting behind-the-scenesmemories, and recount some very moving encounters with Otto Frank — Anne’s father and theonly survivor of the ordeal. Side B has a made-for-TV 90 minute documentary (“The Diary ofAnne Frank: Echoes from the Past”), narrated by Burt Reynolds. This is well beyond the“featurette” mentioned on the case. A shorter feature is an excerpt from “George Stevens: AFilmmaker’s Journey” that deals with this film, and perforce goes over some of the same groundas the documentary. Vintage footage is provided in the form of a press conference by Stevens,Perkins’ screen test, 6 Movietone newsreels dealing with the film and the book. Also providedare the theatrical trailer, the international trailer, a still gallery and a restoration comparison. Themenu is basic.
Earnest and moving, but too long and not always convincing, this is still a handsome piece offilmmaking.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- “The Diary of Anne Frank: Echoes from the Past” Feature Documentary
- “Diary of Anne Frank” Excerpt from “George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey”
- George Stevens Press Conference
- Millie Perkins Screen Test
- Movietone Newreels
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- Intenational Trailer
- Restoration Comparison