The Diary of Anne Frank

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Diary of Anne Frank Movie Poster Image
Poignant adaptation is still powerful decades later.
  • NR
  • 1959
  • 180 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Obviously there's an underlying negative message about what happens when a racist, ruthless regime is allowed to deport harmless citizens, but the story of Anne Frank is still a positive one. The Franks and the Dutch friends who help hide them are examples of the perseverance, courage, and remaining hopeful even in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anne proves that despite horrible circumstances, a young teenager can remain optimistic, loving, and good-spirited. Dutch citizens and Resistance members Miep and Kraler aren't shown often, but they are hiding their Jewish friends in the annex at great personal risk. All of the inhabitants of the annex, especially the Franks, deal with their impossibly difficult situation with grace, rarely complaining, whining, or crying about their situation.

Violence

An overwhelming sense of impending doom creeps up on those hiding in the annex on a regular basis, as they constantly fear being discovered -- especially as a factory worker tries to steal from the office underneath more than once. Disturbing images of what's happening to captured Jews pop up in Anne's mind. Nazis shoot guns in the street below. Loud explosions from an air attack on Holland can be heard/seen from the annex. Tension and foreboding mount as there time in the attic drags on; as all familiar with the story know, there's a tragic ending.

Sex

At first Peter and Margot flirt, and later Anne and Peter flirt, cast longing looks at each other, play-fight and eventually share some chaste kisses. Peter's mother implies that a 13-year-old Anne and her 16-year-old are boyfriend and girlfriend. Mrs Van Daan asks Mr. Frank what he thinks about her legs and pecks him uncomfortably on the cheek.

Language

Mild insults like "shut up," "insufferable and intolerable boy," "you clumsy little fool," and "I could kill you"

Consumerism

Mrs. Van Daan is a bit obsessive about her possessions, particularly her mink coat. She boasts about her father giving her "the best money could buy."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The Franks, Van Daans, and Mr. Dussell appear to be drinking wine at Hannukkah. Mr. Van Daan smokes a hand-made "cigarette."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Holocaust drama, while not explicitly violent, explores some mature themes about WWII, captivity, and self-preservation, religious persecution, and perseverance. Although many kids have read (or at least heard about) Anne Frank by the time they're in middle school, the movie based on her diary includes some tense and potentially frightening scenes of what life was like for Jews in hiding. Those hiding in the annex bicker, have nightmares, and in the case of Mr. Van Daan, even steal food from each other. There are a couple of disturbing images of armed Nazis and rounded-up Jews, as well as a general sense of foreboding as the Franks and their friends await their inevitable capture. Although the issue of sexuality is rather chaste, Anne and Peter do flirt, share a few stolen kisses, and give each other several longing looks. Ultimately, Anne Frank remains a beacon of hope, an eternal optimist amidst the most horrifying of circumstances.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 16 year old Written bycaring dad March 26, 2010

This story must continue to be told.

My concern is actually that this story will disappear in the denial of the Holocaust. This story must be told again and again. If you think this is not happenin... Continue reading
Parent Written byCooldee April 19, 2010

A movie for ages 13 and up (this is a great movie)!

This is the best movie I ever seen in my life, and it is my favorite movie of all time! The only violence in this movie is the guns shots and bombs going off i... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEspumaMarina September 17, 2010

Anne, Margot, Otto, Peter, Edith, Mr. Van Dan, Mrs. Van Dan, Mr. Dusell, and those who helped, rest in peace

This was a very good movie, and it is such a shame. It made me cry through most of it, and it did have some funny parts, like when Mr.Van Dan was smoking that n... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 24, 2010

AMAZING ANNE!!!

I LOVE ANNE FRANK!!!I AM A TOTAL FANATIC,AND BASICALLY KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT HER!!SHE'S ALSO MY PROFILE PICTURE!!!I AM WATCHING THE MOVIE NOW!!!I LOVE ANYT... Continue reading

What's the story?

This 1959 film adaptation of THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK chronicles the the two years a Jewish teen named Anne Frank (Millie Perkins) and her family spent hiding from Nazis in their Amsterdam textile factory's secret annex. The Franks (Anne, her parents, and her older sister Margot) are sequestered in the small loft with another Jewish family, Mr. And Mrs. Van Daan (Shelley Winters and Lou Jacobi), their teenage son, Peter (Richard Beymer), and later an older dentist, Mr. Dussell. All the while, Anne keeps a running commentary in her diary. Since the Franks' factory is directly below them, the inhabitants of the annex must spend all day in complete silence, lest they inadvertently tip off one of the workers and lure the Gestapo. Two Gentile office managers, Miep and Kraler, routinely visit with news about the war and food rations, but most of the movie follows the small daily horrors of living in constant fear and in close quarters. As Anne goes from an awkward 13-year-old to a mature 15-year-old, her relationship with the slightly older Peter develops into a romance, despite the fact that their shared confinement offers little privacy. As anyone who's read the diary knows, the Franks are eventually betrayed, and the hiding place is besieged by Nazis.

Is it any good?

This is a poignant drama about possibly the most inspiring diarist of the 20th century. Although a Pulitzer-Prize-winning play preceded it, director George Stevens's The Diary of Anne Frank is the earliest filmed version of the biographical work, and the standard for the many miniseries and plays that have followed in the past five decades. Fifty years later, the movie is still a powerful, touching drama. There's an appropriate balance of foreboding, inter-personal drama, and even humor. Upbeat scenes in which Anne gives out small homemade Hanukkah gifts or prances around wearing Mrs. Van Daan's beloved mink coat contrast beautifully with more haunting images of the confined trying desperately not to make noise as an unexpected thief trashes the office below or of Anne's nightmares of what's happened to her captured, concentration camp-bound friends. Excerpts from the diary are mixed in with the original dialogue, which captures the way domestic minutia can easily turn into heated drama under the emotionally charged circumstances.

At 180 minutes, the movie runs at least 30 minutes too long, and it seems now that Millie Perkins was miscast for the seminal role. Looking like a cross between Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood, Perkins is almost too beautiful to play Anne, and her sing-songy tones make her sound more pouty and melodramatic than precocious. Perkins does have a believable chemistry with Beymer (Tony from West Side Story), who does an impressive job of darting furtive, smoldering glances at Anne throughout the movie. Winters and Jacobi are spot-on as the meddling, tactless Van Daans -- especially Winters, who knows how to steal a scene.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the Holocaust, and how this movie raises issues about the way that families work together (or don't) in times of stress.

  • How could Anne Frank make her famous statement: "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart" in the face of her family's unthinkably difficult situation? Was she being naive, or was she profound beyond her years?

  • In what ways is the Holocaust depicted differently in this Diary of Anne Frank adaptation than in other similarly themed movies?

  • Does the lack of overt violence make the Holocaust seem any less evil or frightening?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas and smart girls

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