Anne Frank is many things to many people, depending on whom one talks to. She was an ordinary teenage girl who went through the changes that we all went through at that age. She was a budding writer whose literary skills showed promise. She is an icon not just for the 1.5 million Jewish children who were slaughtered in The Holocaust, but for children around the world who are living and dying in war zones today. She is reminder of what hate and prejudice can do when we are blind to the humanity of our fellow mortals.
Her life and her brief time in hiding is immortalized in her published diaries The Diary of a Young Girl: Anne Frank.
But the question is, who owns Anne’s likeness and more importantly, who owns how she is represented to the world? This question is answered in the new book, The Phenomenon of Anne Frank. Written by David Barnouw and edited by Jeanette K. Ringold, the book traces the history of Anne’s story from an ordinary teenage girl who was murdered because she was Jewish to an international icon who represents so much to so many.
The premise of this book sounded promising. However, it was a bit too scholarly and dry for my taste.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
In a way, Anne Frank was both ordinary and extraordinary. She was ordinary because she was just another teenage girl going through the same experiences that every teenage girl goes through. She was extraordinary because even as a young woman, her writing reflected a mature quality that many writers take years to develop. She was also extraordinary because she was and continues to be the voice for the millions of children whose lives were taken needlessly during World War II.
After the war, her father, Otto Frank, the only member of her family to survive the Nazi Holocaust, returned to their hiding place and discovered his daughter’s diary. Initially published in the late 1952, The Diary of Anne Frank has not been out of print since then. It is the diary of a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during World War II. It is an extraordinary book about an ordinary young woman growing up under extraordinary and scary circumstances.
The first film adaptation of the book premiered in 1959. Millie Perks stepped into the lead role and Joseph Schildkraut played Anne’s beloved father, Otto.
In 2001, a TV movie, based on the book premiered. In this adaptation, Hannah Taylor Gordon played Anne and Ben Kingsley played Otto Frank. The difference between this adaptation and previous adaptations was that the story did not end with the discovery of the Annex. It followed the story as the member of the secret Annex lived and died in the concentration camps. The difference between this adaptation is much darker than earlier ones, it is not for the faint of heart, especially towards the end.
I recommend all three.