Anne Frank (2001)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature], Childhood Drama, Docudrama  |   Run Time - 240 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Almost everyone knows the heartbreaking story of Anne Frank, the Jewish girl condemned to Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp after she and her family spent two years in an Amsterdam attic hiding from the Nazis. The extraordinary book she wrote while in hiding, called Het Achterhuis (The Diary of a Young Girl), recorded her poignant and incredibly wise observations about life. Anne Frank tells her story, beginning in 1939, when she is a happy schoolgirl bursting with dreams. Later, the Nazi occupation of Holland changes everything. The film builds suspense gradually, showing the fingerprinting of Anne and her father, the beating of Jews by Nazi supporters, the tedium of daily life in the attic, and the appearance of a snooping Nazi collaborator in the employ of the business operated by the non-Jews who supply the attic dwellers -- the Franks and several other Jews -- with food and medicine. During the day, Anne gazes longingly out the window at life below -- people strolling, riding bicycles, pushing baby carriages. At night, Anne and the others huddle in terror as allied planes bomb the city or Nazi patrols round up Jews on the streets below. The entire cast performs with distinction, in particular, Ben Kingsley as soft-spoken Otto Frank and Hannah Taylor-Gordon -- a spindly slip of a girl with dark eyes and a winsome smile -- as Anne. To heighten the sense of realism, the cinematographers show archival film snippets of wartime Amsterdam. When the camera's vantage point shifts, actors and extras take the places of the real people. Then color gradually infuses the black-and-white images. The production follows the fate of the Franks to the very end.