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The Diary of Anne Frank(1959)
In 1942, a family of Dutch Jews hides in an attic from the Nazis, but just before the war ends they're found out and sent to concentration camps--an experience recorded in the famous diary of a little girl.
For more about The Diary of Anne Frank and the The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray release, see the The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on June 20, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: George Stevens
Writers: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, Anne Frank (I)
Starring: Millie Perkins, Joseph Schildkraut, Shelley Winters, Richard Beymer, Gusti Huber, Lou Jacobi
» See full cast & crew
The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray Review
Fox once again delivers a classic film to Blu-ray with superb results.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, June 20, 2009
You don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.
The Diary of Anne Frank is the cinematic retelling of one of the greatest yet also most tragic stories to come out of World War II, chronicling the lives of two Jewish families in hiding from Nazi occupiers in Amsterdam. The wondrous true story of survival, hardship, coming-of-age, romance, and fear through the most crucial years of the War is conveyed splendidly in this motion picture classic, the film the recipient of three Oscars and nominated for five more, including Best Picture and Best Director, George Stevens. The Diary of Anne Frank stirs the soul and engages the mind, the film certainly not a typical War film, its approach instead one meant to place audiences in the hideout with the Franks and Van Daans, to convey the raw emotion, terror, and daily routine of a limited lifestyle that only through the strength of the human spirit could they endure, and in that regard the film is a complete success. The Diary of Anne Frank represents a remarkable technical achievement, too, the film able to completely overwhelm audiences with its confined shooting locations and limited camera movements; it often feels like a stage production with only the occasional injection of cinematic flair and dramatic license to differentiate it from the book and play, but the film's faithfulness to the material and respect for the characters and situations, above all else, make The Diary of Anne Frank a wondrous cinematic achievement, even some 50 years after its initial release.
In the midst of World War II, two Jewish Families -- the Franks: father Otto (Joseph Schildkraut), mother Edith (Gusti Huber), and sisters Anne (Millie Perkins) and Margot (Diane Baker), and the Van Daans: father Hans (Lou Jacobi), mother Petronella (Shelley Winters in an Oscar-winning role), and son Peter (Richard Beymer) -- go into hiding together in a small upstairs loft in the middle of Amsterdam in hopes of evading the Nazis who would see all Jews placed into concentration camps and, ultimately, murdered for their heritage. The film recounts their two-year evasion of the Nazi occupiers, chronicling the hardships of living by a strict set of rules that severely limit their everyday activities, prevent them from leaving the confines of the loft, and turn every step and whisper into a dangerous and potentially deadly proposition. The families follow the news of the War via a small, hidden radio; through word-of-mouth reports from sympathizers aware of their location; and sometimes watch it develop outside their window. As they struggle to survive in a world that has stripped them of all but their unbending spirits, the families manage to experience the ups and downs of life despite their perilous circumstances, though the threat of detection and the seemingly unending War always seem at the forefront of both the best and worst of times.
The Diary of Anne Frank's success stems from its ability to, in every frame, effortlessly capture the entire spectrum of life in the hideaway; the monotony of the daily routine is often punctuated by moments of great joy and terrible tension, all the while retaining the dark cloud of palpable fear that hangs over every bite to eat, every second of sleep, or every strange sound that seems magnified a hundred fold, whether emanating from the hideout or somewhere outside it. The world of the Franks and Van Daans is one that is hard to imagine, then or now, where a wrong step could mean death and a small cake seems like a brick of gold, its equal division just as important as the taste and satisfaction of every bite. The film begins with several minutes of establishing footage that recreates the dull routine of daily life in the hideout. Anne reads Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities cover-to-cover in one sitting; some simply stare at the ceiling while lying in bed; others still sit quietly in a chair, almost as if in a trance, the world, it seems, having all but forgotten of their existence. Even in these scenes, dull as though they may seem, The Diary of Anne Frank manages to enthrall its audience while capturing to chilling effect both the monotony of life and the almost overbearing fear that marked every moment of these two, and no doubt many others, family's lives in Amsterdam and across Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War.
Indeed, it is in the film's recreation of the unbearable pressure and seemingly imminent danger that accompanies every whisper, every step, or every glance out the window that could result in either another night tucked safely away in the hideout or capture at the hands of the Nazis. Populated by quiet, contemplative, and dangerous scenes, The Diary of Anne Frank conveys with chilling realism the danger wrought by a misstep at the wrong time, a tea kettle left on the stove for seconds too long, or the untimely pounce of a cat. Such scenes prove far more intense and frightening than most any picture produced and sold under the "Horror" label, for The Diary of Anne Frank captures real horror with startling and often unforgiving realism, where even the most joyous of occasions -- the celebration of a new year or a first kiss -- bring with them reminders of the War and the around-the-clock imminent danger that the slightest everyday-occurrence-turned-potentially-deadly-blunder could bring. For the Franks and Van Daans, survival itself seems almost akin to a death sentence. Food becomes scarce, and everyday activities such as trash disposal become a stealthy undertaking. The families live in conditions that seem almost inhumane, not necessarily because of the close quarters, lack of true privacy, or what belongings they may or may not possess, but because of the terrible restrictions placed on their everyday activities for the sake of making it through one more day undetected.
The Diary of Anne Frank defies convention and represents compelling and often completely engrossing cinema despite but a single primary shooting location, a story that is almost completely dialogue-driven, and a three-hour runtime. The picture encapsulates superb filmmaking and serves as one of the quintessential pieces that prove true the "less is more" approach. Driven by the power of its story and the performances of its actors, particularly Joseph Schildkraut as Anne's father, Otto, The Diary of Anne Frank excels from the first frame to its last, with the film's post-war bookends proving the most difficult scenes in the film for their representation of the terrible results of War, results that see not only cities destroyed but hearts broken, where a diary transforms from a personal remembrance of events to a symbol of eternal optimism and the unbeatable human spirit that cannot be broken no matter the news of the day, the amount food in the stomach, the dropping of bombs in the distance, or the imminent fear of discovery. Indeed, The Diary of Anne Frank succeeds on all levels thanks to its insistence on placing story first and allowing its grandeur and importance to remain paramount to the experience, its technical successes stemming from the unobtrusive conveyance of the story that serve only to support, rather than define, the tale.
The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Diary of Anne Frank debuts on Blu-ray with a faithful 1080p, 2.35:1-framed transfer. The film begins with several scenes that serve up a plethora of pops and white speckles jumping all over the screen, accompanied by plenty of grain. The pops and speckles appear intermittently throughout the film, but the transfer generally appears blemish-free in most scenes. Detail, generally speaking, never stands out as above-average, and the image doesn't offer all that much in the way of depth. Nevertheless, some details stand out nicely, for instance rainwater glistening off a hat or the fine details in the decorative curtains seen in the hideout. Many shots take on a soft and occasionally borderline blurry appearance, while others take on a slight glow. Most of the blurry imagery appears in backgrounds and on the sides of the frame, but center-frame objects generally take on a fairly sharp, clear, detailed appearance. Nevertheless, the Blu-ray seems to replicate the film nicely enough. The transfer features a consistent but slight grain field that adds a film-like feel to the experience. Though certainly not the most visually impressive catalogue transfer Fox has produced, this one is a definite winner in context and easily bests any previous home video versions of the film.
The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Diary of Anne Frank arrives on Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Despite the 5.1 master, the track features virtually no rear-channel presence. Nevertheless, and most importantly, the lossless treatment allows for a clear and concise delivery of the film's limited but all-important sound design where silence is often just as important as dialogue, music, or sound effects. Music, particularly that heard during the prelude, plays clearly and strongly, focused in the center but with adequate support from the front left and right channels. Sound effects, too, play nicely enough in context; whether the heavy clanking of soldiers' boots on the streets below the loft, the screaming siren attached to a vehicle rolling by, or explosions heard both near and far during allied bombing raids, the track delivers all that is required of it with an appropriate level of gusto and clarity. Most importantly, dialogue reproduction remains rock-solid throughout, though on several rare occasions it can seem the slightest bit muffled under music or select sound effects. Generally, this track satisfies and, like the entirety of the technical presentation, serves only to reinforce rather than define The Diary of Anne Frank.
The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Diary of Anne Frank makes its Blu-ray debut with plenty of bonus materials. First among them is a commentary track with George Stevens, Jr., son of the film's director, and Actress Millie Perkins. The track is rather informative, the participants speaking on the real-life events, shooting locations that varied between real historical locations and the sets on the 20th Century Fox sound stage, the authentic feel of the props seen throughout the film and the realism they lent to the story, filming techniques, and plenty more. A fine mix of historical recreation and technical information, the commentary track serves the film well and should satisfy those yearning to learn more about the background of both the story and the construction of the film. Next up are several features that cover a broad spectrum of the filmmaking process and the history of the true-life story. George Stevens in WWII (480p, 7:40) recounts the story of the film's director eschewing part of his Hollywood career for service as a combat photographer in the War and shows some of his color footage from both combat and the Dachau concentration camp. The Making of 'The Diary of Anne Frank': A Son's Memories (480p, 25:05) features George Stevens, Jr. recalling his father's career and their work on The Diary of Anne Frank, covering a spectrum of topics on how the film was assembled.
Next is 'The Diary of Anne Frank': Memories from Millie Perkins and Diane Baker (480p, 25:54), a piece containing the actresses recounting how they landed the roles, recalling their careers, speaking of their rehearsals, experiences on the set, working with their fellow actors, and more. Shelley Winters and 'The Diary of Anne Frank' (480p, 7:00) features highlights of a 1983 interview between Winters and Stevens, Jr. The Sound and Music of 'The Diary of Anne Frank' (480p, 7:54) is next, a piece that examines the film's sound effects and Oscar-nominated score. 'The Diary of Anne Frank': Correspondence (480p, 13:12) features Stevens, Jr. reading aloud letters that speak on the film and the actual events depicted therein. Fox Movie Channel Presents: Fox Legacy with Tom Rothman (480p, 14:08), a studio piece that looks back on the film and the historical events that define it.
'The Diary of Anne Frank': Echoes from the Past (480p, 1:30:07) is another of the excellent documentaries that accompany many of the classic Fox releases, this one recalling both the film and the actual events that inspired it in great detail, with plenty of historical footage, clips from the film, and interviews. 'The Diary of Anne Frank' Excerpt from 'Geroge Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey' (480p, 7:59) is a selection from the 1984 film directed by Stevens, Jr. that focuses on the importance of The Diary of Anne Frank on George Stevens' career. George Stevens Press Conference (480p, 5:01) features the director answering questions about the film. Millie Perkins Screen Test (480p, 2:20) shows the then-model and yet-untested actress speaking on several subjects. Also available are six clips from Fox Movietonews -- Millie Perkins, 18, to be Anne Frank in Film of Diary (480p, 1:01), Nobel Peace Prize to Belgian Priest (480p, 0:24), Anne Frank Diary Star Readies for Film's 1st Nights (480p, 1:01), Academy Award Highlights (480p, 2:06), Millie Perkins Visits the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (480p, 0:51), and Brilliant Turnout for L.A. Premiere Anne Frank Diary (480p, 1:17). Concluding this extensive supplemental section is The Diary of Anne Frank theatrical trailer (480p, 3:11), the international trailer (480p, 4:32), an interactive Press Book gallery, and a Behind-the-Scenes gallery.
The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Diary of Anne Frank is truly one of classic cinema's great treasures, not necessarily for any technical or acting achievement but instead for the power and unforgettable nature of the story it tells. A film that cannot be watched but only experienced, The Diary of Anne Frank stands apart from its peers as one of the most powerful and moving pictures in memory, its story one of the greats that reflect on the human condition and the unwavering power of the spirit to overcome all obstacles. 20th Century Fox has done it again, releasing a classic film from their impressive library of titles with fantastic results on Blu-ray. Sporting picture and sound qualities that may not immediately "wow" audiences but certainly impress in context, the film has received just treatment for this 50th anniversary release. Supported by a lengthy selection of fine bonus features, The Diary of Anne Frank is a Blu-ray disc that belongs in every collection. Highly recommended.
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The Diary of Anne Frank Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Diary of Anne Frank Gets Detailed - April 7, 2009
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition', which is due to hit store shelves on June 16th, day-and-date with the DVD re-release. ...
• Fox Reveals Anne Frank, Burn Notice, and More - March 18, 2009
In an early announcement to retailers, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has revealed that they will bring 'The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition', 'Garfield's Pet Force', and 'Burn Notice: Season Two' to Blu-ray on June 16th, day-and-date with the ...
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