The Diary of Anne Frank

The Diary of Anne Frank

Sun, 04/11/2010 - 9:00pm

Pictured: Ellie Sendrick as Anne Frank

Credit: ©Darlow Smithson Productions for Masterpiece

The Nazi officer who dumped the seemingly mundane notebooks onto the floor, to be abandoned and later rescued for posterity, could not have imagined what they held.

A Jewish teenager hiding from the Nazis pours out her heart to the only true friend she had left: her diary. Masterpiece Classics presents the most accurate-ever adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved and widely read memoirs, The Diary of Anne Frank, premiering on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Thursday, April 11 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable1011 and 11).

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“Every generation needs to look at Anne from its own perspective,” says Masterpiece executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “In this new Masterpiece adaptation, viewers will see Anne as a bright, charming, and difficult teenager—and as the gifted writer she was destined to become.” Adapted by Deborah Moggach (Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley) and drawing on Anne Frank’s actual words to a greater extent than any previous dramatization, The Diary of Anne Frank stars newcomer Ellie Kendrick (An Education) as Anne, a typical thirteen-year-old at the outset of the film, at odds with her mother, interested in boys, clothes, her appearance, and intrigued by her unfolding sexual development. “She doesn’t just play Anne Frank, she becomes Anne Frank,” wrote The Guardian in its enthusiastic review of the UK broadcast. Anne matured remarkably during the two traumatic years that she, her family, and four others were closeted in the “secret annex” of her father’s business in Amsterdam. Yet she never lost the distinctive traits of a normal teenager. But she was a teen with a very unusual gift. In Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife, author Francine Prose praises the surprising literary quality of the diary, marveling that “one of the greatest books about the Nazi genocide should have been written by a girl between the ages of thirteen and fifteen.”

The Masterpiece production co-stars Iain Glen (Into the Storm) as Anne’s optimistic and unflappable father, Otto, and Tamsin Greig (Emma) as her mother, Edith, who sees with clear-eyed horror the fate that may await them all. Felicity Jones (Northanger Abbey) plays Anne’s older sister, Margot, a quiet and obedient girl, who throws herself into her studies to keep from going mad.

Appearing as the other residents of the Secret Annex are: Ron Cook (Little Dorrit) and Lesley Sharp (Return to Cranford) as Hermann and Petronella van Daan, family friends who are far more emotionally volatile than the Franks; Geoff Breton (The Old Curiosity Shop) as the van Daan’s teenage son, Peter, who evolves from a figure of ridicule into Anne’s first true love; and Nicholas Farrell (Collision) as Albert Dussel, a middle-aged dentist who becomes Anne’s difficult and demanding roommate.Kate Ashfield (Collision) plays Miep Gies, an employee of Otto Frank’s firm who serves as an indispensable link to the outside world, along with her co-workers Johannes Kleiman (Roger Frost), Victor Kugler (Tim Dantay), and Bep Voskuijl (Mariah Gale). Together, this amazing acting ensemble recreates what it was like for the eight fugitives to live in close quarters in their secret hiding place, and how a kind of normal life evolved, with chores, meals, parties, jokes, domestic arguments, philosophical musings, and innocent assignations between Anne and Peter.

“Thanks to Anne’s diary, all human life is captured there in the annex during those two years,” says screenwriter Moggach. “It’s totally gripping what was going on.”One thing that Anne’s housemates noticed was that she threw herself into her writing with uncharacteristic seriousness and discipline. What her diary and journals held they couldn’t imagine—nor could the Nazi officer who unceremoniously dumped the seemingly mundane notebooks onto the floor, to be abandoned and later
rescued for posterity.

This program is offered with Descriptive Video (DVi), which provides concise descriptions of the sets, scenery, costumes, action, and other important visual elements between the dialogue of the program.

The Masterpiece Video Diary Open Call: Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank
Anne Frank was an amazing storyteller. Through her words, she has engaged and inspired youth to document their thoughts on self-expression, tolerance, and being. Today, The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most widely read pieces of non-fiction in the world.

The WGBH Lab has partnered up with Masterpiece and we’re inviting you, the next generation of independent media makers and storytellers ages 13 and up to create your own diary online, using video, audio or still images.

By writing in her diary, Anne Frank was empowered to express her thoughts and feelings about what was happening all around her. We're challenging you to do the same. Tell us about your life. How have you overcome being bullied or disrespected for the way you look, the way you think, or for what you believe? How did you handle it? Send us a compelling message in a 3 min. video diary entry about how you, or someone you know has made a difference.

Portions of the diaries submitted by March 8th may be selected for broadcast on Masterpiece Classic’s airing of The Diary of Anne Frank on April 11th, 2010. Be sure to tune and show your support! Official deadline is May 31st. Learn more