Where Is Anne Frank
Featured voices: Ruby Stokes, Emily Carey, Ralph Prosser, Sebastian Croft, Ari Folman
Israeli writer-director Ari ‘Waltz with Bashir’ Folman’s animated fantasy, which attempts to shine a light on current woes via diarist Frank’s experience, is audacious and handsomely-mounted but suffers from an unwieldy structure.
It begins in present day at the Amsterdam Anne Frank House Museum, previously the hideout Anne’s family shared with another, the van Pels. Setting out his intentions early, Folman has the museum surrounded by makeshift tents and rough sleepers. A bolt of lightning strikes Anne’s diary, the text swirls up from page like smoke and Kitty (voiced by Stokes), Anne’s red-headed imaginary friend from her diary, comes to life. In the museum she is invisible to visitors, but when she leaves the museum she can be seen. Unaware time has passed, Kitty, taking Anne’s diary with her, goes to the local police station in search of her lost friend, where she is indulged by a kindly policeman Officer Van Yaris (voiced by director Folman). Later Kitty falls in with a local pickpocket called Peter (Prosser) who introduces her to a number of homeless migrants who have occupied an apartment block.
The story flashes back to illustrate scenes from Anne’s diary. While these sequences, commendably, show Anne (Carey) as a fully-rounded human being with a knotty relationship with her family, they will feel overfamiliar to readers of her diary and acts as a lag on Kitty’s story.
Utilising over 150 thousand individual drawings created in fifteen countries, the picture boasts an impressively eclectic version of styles, from the moody monochrome depiction of rainy present-day Amsterdam, to more lurid fanciful sequences, such as an ‘Avengers: Endgame’-style sequence where Anne’s various film star idols, including a dashing Clarke Gable, ride into battle against the Nazis, who are depicted as seven foot tall, pasty-faced wraiths.
While the likening of Anne’s story to the plight of current refuges may be contentious for viewers who consider the Holocaust a singular incomparable evil, this is a heartfelt and generously-spirited work from Folman, whose mother is an Auschwitz survivor. The messaging, especially at the conclusion, feels overly-didactic in a story where the lessons are self-evident.
Where is Anne Frank is released on 12th August
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