The name, Anne Frank, has become synonymous with WWII, Nazis, and the Jewish Holocaust. The young girl's diary has evolved to symbolize much of the terror and destruction that was rampant in Europe during the years of Hitler's Third Reich. The film, Anne Frank Remembered, looks not only at the young girl, exploring her life and the difficulties that she faced while in hiding and later in the concentration camps, but also at the lives and struggles of the people around Anne, those hiding with her and those heroic people that tried to protect them.
The film's creators interviewed close friends of the family, and in particular Miep Gies, the woman who protected and cared for the family while they were in hiding. Miep was the person who found and guarded Anne's diary until it could be returned to the girl’s father years later. The information provided by Miep and the other people interviewed, many of whom were friends of the family before they went into hiding and later were inmates with them in the concentration camps, provide great insight on the family dynamics, individual personalities, and the particular struggles that Anne did not write about in her diary, but were nonetheless significant to the welfare of the family. For example, Fritz Pfeffer was the dentist who shared a room with Anne and about whom she wrote contemptuously. However, his son, Peter Pepper, defends his father and provides insight into his father, creating a more rounded and complete view of the man.
Part of the film examines the experiences of the family after their discovery and capture by the Nazis. These scenes, the images and discussions shown, are more disturbing then the rest of the film. However, unlike many other films that deal with the Holocaust, the film takes particular care that the images presented are not too graphic or gruesome. Though there is one inference to the practice of cannibalism among some of the starving inmates, the films content is always relevant and does not mean to shock or horrify, but to inform.
Anne Frank Remembered fulfills its educational objective—but beyond that, it’s made with such depth of feeling, with such love and sorrow, that it becomes extraordinarily moving. In addition, it is a great introduction to the kind of story and character studies that can be found in the best non-fiction films (notably, the film won the 1995 Academy Award for best documentary). It is perhaps more appropriate for older children, particularly those that have read The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank, or who have been studying WWII and the Holocaust. If a child watches this film with a caring adult, important discussions about family, hatred, life, death, and remembering can result.