Another side of Anne Frank
My Best Friend Anne gives a different perspective on the famous diarist
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During World War II, the Nazi regime hungered to eradicate the Jewish people from its society and accelerated its genocidal campaign with concentration camps, gas chambers, and other grisly means. Anne Frank is one of the Holocaust’s most famous victims thanks to the diary she left behind, and the Netflix movie My Best Friend Anne Frank (PG-13) helps us to see Anne and her story through the eyes of a contemporary friend.
Like Otto Frank’s family, Hannah Goslar moved with her parents to Amsterdam in 1934, fleeing Germany where her father had been an important civil servant. Hannah met Anne at age 6, and the two were the best of friends, going to school together at a Jewish day school and sharing the typical adventures of young girls. Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl tells us much of the inner life and thoughts of a teenager hiding from persecution and of her dreams and plans.
My Best Friend Anne Frank takes some fictional liberties, but is based on Hannah’s memories as recounted in a 1997 book and portrays more of Anne’s warts and foibles. She is adventurous and mischievous, not always a loyal friend, and crazy about boys. In short, she is a teenager growing up, one of millions whose ordinary life was cut short by racial hatred.
Growing up as neighbors, Hannah and Anne plan to see the world together. Hannah is crushed when, without notice, the Frank family supposedly moves away to Switzerland, in the middle of the night. Viewers, of course, are aware that the Frank family was unable to flee the Netherlands and was in hiding in an attic for nearly two years till they were captured by the Nazis and transported to concentration camps in Auschwitz and later Bergen-Belsen.
Amazingly, Hannah Goslar and her younger sister and father also end up at Bergen-Belsen, in a slightly more privileged part of the camp reserved for more valuable Jewish prisoners. Despite physical barriers between the different sections of the camp, Hannah was able to connect briefly with the sick and hungry Anne and risked her own safety to get supplies to her ailing friend. Tragically, Anne and her sister Margot died shortly before the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Hannah thought her friend had survived until Otto Frank confirmed her death shortly after the war’s end.
While the subject matter is riveting, the movie has flaws. It suffers from poor dubbing and subtitling (not a problem for those fluent in Dutch and German, but very distracting for the average monolinguist). Christians will be disappointed that the writers pay so little attention to the spiritual life of these Jewish families in their troubles.
There is one regrettable scene where Anne forces her friend to view the illustrations of human reproduction in a science textbook. Despite its weaknesses, the movie does add to the eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust—may we never forget how sinful we are and how much mankind needs Jesus for redemption.
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