The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition – DVD Review

Diary of Anne Frank

War movies are normally centered around acts of heroism that usually end in sacrifice. How many times did John Wayne die after saving his unit? Theres blood and guts mixed with men on a mission. The Diary of Anne Frank reminds us that not everyone involved in a war is ready to grab a gun and fight away. This movie is about the civilian toll of Hitlers war machine. It is about the fear of being helpless in a land that was once your home. The Diary of Anne Frank adapts the real diary kept by a teenage girl. Her family and friends hid in an attic space for two years. The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition is still an emotionally gripping vision of her plight.

The Frank family had fled from Germany to Holland after Hitler took power and began purging the Jews. Unfortunately their time in Holland went bad when Hitler invaded the the land of windmills and tulips. With no chance to flee to Switzerland, the Franks and friends hide in the attic of Otto Franks office. Loyal workers bring them food and cover their tracks. Life in the attic is very tense since they must live without making noise during the day and no light at night. They are hunted by the Nazis and locals that roam the street looking for Jews in hiding.

Anne Frank (Millie Perkins) is coming of age as the world around her is collapsing. She believes in the goodness of humanity even with the worst elements of mankind controlling the streets below. She has the company of her sister, Margot (Diane Baker). She takes a liking to Peter Van Daan (Richard Beymer), a young man who is hiding with them. However her sister also likes him. Luckily director George Stevens doesnt let this film devolve into a teen comedy with a World War II storyline. Theres a respect for Annes emotions rarely given to teenagers in movies of the 50s.

Even though a majority of the action is confined inside the attic space, the film never gets stagey. This isnt a series of master shots. We get the details of the familys survival in the confined space. There is a constant air of claustrophobia. At no point do we forget that the tenants of the attic arent in jeopardy. The evil roams the neighborhood constantly searching for people hiding. Among the tense moments is when one of the attic dwellers cat nearly tips off the police. This is not a safe film.

The version included on this DVD is the road show print that runs 179 minutes. The original theatrical version ran nearly 20 minutes shorter after Fox asked Stevens to cut a reel out of the film to get an extra screening. Theres more to the ending of this version of the film.

Before the holocaust fantasy of Quentin Tarantinos Inglourious Basterds hits the screen this summer, you owe it to yourself to reconnect with what really happened to one girl in the midst of World War II. This isnt a fictional film directed by a guy who watched a lot of war movies. George Stevens filmed the Allied forces as they defeated the Nazis. He saw what they did to the Jews with his eyes and not from the comfy chair in a Hollywood screening room. The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition remind us of the ravages of war through the eyes of a teenage girl.

The video is 2.35:1 anamorphic. The black and white transfer is pristine. The blacks are exceptional in the night scenes. The audio is Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround and 5.1 Surround. The mix levels are fine. The radio that connects them to the outside world sounds authentic. There are mono dubs in Spanish and French. The subtitles are in English, Spanish and French.

Commentary Track features George Stevens Jr. and Millie Perkins. The two share plenty of stories from the production.

George Stevens in WWII (7:39) discusses how the director served in the military in combat photography. He shot footage of liberated concentration camps. George Stevens Jr. leads us through his dads legacy. The son was second unit director and associate producer of The Diary of Anne Frank.

The Making of The Diary of Anne Frank (25:04) deals with how the film came to be made. Stevens was just coming off Giant. In pre-production, he connected with the film by returning to Dachau. The production photos of the giant attic set is stunning.

Memories from Millie Perkins and Diane Baker (25:53) gets the actresses to reflect on their work in the film.

Shelley Winters and The Diary of Anne Frank (7:00) is a fine tribute to the actress who won an Oscar for her role. Theres a vintage interview with Winters. She passed away in 2006.

The Sound and Music of The Diary of Anne Frank (7:55) gets into how the element of the radio was used in the film.

Correspondence (13:13) are letters involving the production read by George Stevens Jr.

Fox Movie Channel Presents FoxLegacy with Tom Rothman (14:06) is the special done by the cable channel. The Fox executive has to admit that not all films are escapism.

Interactive Pressbook Gallery lets you explore the original pressbook.

Behind-the-Scenes Gallery has dozens of images from the films production.

The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition brings the journal entries to life. The production brings us into the attic where people pray that Allied Forces will free Holland so they can return to their normal lives. The extras illuminate how much care director George Stevens took in making the film. This wasnt just another movie about World War II stocked with gung ho soldiers. This reminds us that in the middle of violent conflicts are those who cant fight or flee. They just hide and hope this will pass. The Diary of Anne Frank maintains its power after half a century.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment presents The Diary of Anne Frank: 50th Anniversary Edition.Directed by: George Stevens. Starring: Millie Perkins, Shelley Winters, Lou Jacobi, Ed Wynn and Diane Baker. Running Time: 179 minutes. Released on DVD: June 16, 2009. Available at

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