Anne Frank in a photograph at her grammar school in Amsterdam, and a similar image in ‘Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,’ published in English in 2018 (courtesy: Anne Frank Fonds)
Packed with lavish illustrations and a pinch of sauciness, “Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation” manages to give readers a more intimate take on the diarist than most of its cinematic and stage predecessors.
The graphic novel adaptation was a years-long labor of love for Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman. Oscar-nominated for his Lebanon War-based “Waltz with Bashir,” Folman approached the acclaimed “Diary of a Young Girl” with caution.
“If we were to illustrate the entire text in a graphic rendition it would require the better part of a decade and likely be 3,500 pages long,” said Folman in a Q&A released by publisher Pantheon. “The trickiest task, then, would be to retain roughly only 5 percent of Anne’s original diary while still being faithful to the entire work,” said Folman, whose parents survived the Holocaust.
Published in English this week, the Anne Frank graphic novel came out in Israel and parts of Europe last year. There is, however, very little context about the genocide of Europe’s Jews within the novel’s 160 pages. Folman is currently working on a full-length animated film adaptation, set for release next year, that will paint a broader picture.
For his partner on the novel, Folman chose David Polonsky, an award-winning children’s illustrator who also worked on “Waltz with Bashir.” Together, the artists brought visual expression to Frank’s cutting observations of those around her.
“I think her power was the way she could observe the world of the adults surrounding her, because she did not have a normal maturation process in hiding,” said Folman, adding that the teen was “unbelievably intelligent and in many ways funny.”
In terms of the diary’s iconic nature, Folman attempted to check some of his reverence for Anne Frank at the door.
“I tried to disconnect from the issue of what it means to deal with ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ as much as I could, because I think the more you are frightened by the iconization of the literary piece, the more you are paralyzed,” said Folman. “We also did a lot of research to find good solutions within the framework we had to stay in.”
‘A bit like an homage’
Despite the text limitations of a graphic novel, Folman and Polonsky created a more detailed portrait of Anne Frank than is typically offered by adapters of her diary.
Notably, the novel fleshes out the personality of Margot, Frank’s older sister who is rarely given much to do on stage or screen. A series of intimate letters exchanged between the sisters about Anne’s burgeoning romance with Peter is included, and the Frank sisters’ competing traits are cleverly illustrated in a page labelled, “It’s always about me and my sister.”
According to Folman, “Anne’s repeated — and unresolved — comparisons throughout the diary on her ‘problematic’ self with her ‘perfect’ sister Margot, we chose to encapsulate on a single graphic page that visualizes the contrasts.”
Image from ‘Anne Frank’s DiYour Profileary: The Graphic Adaptation’ (courtesy: Anne Frank Fonds)
Folman did not skirt around Frank’s anxiety and depression, portraying the diarist taking Valerian pills and waking up from nightmares. To help express her moods, the creators deployed — for example — a morphing of her angst-ridden face with Dali’s “The Scream.”
Some of the diarist’s nightmares are depicted in grimy detail, including the image of a flooded Amsterdam in which the “Secret Annex” inhabitants would have to swim. A scene of Anne and Margot “fishing” children from the canal to clean them offers comic relief, as does the notion of Mrs. van Pels “hiding another Jewish family” within the confines of her tooth cavity, as expressed by dentist Fritz Pfeffer.
An image from ‘Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation,’ 2018 (courtesy: Anne Frank Fonds)
“The diary as a book itself is alive — it has a lot of humor… it will not disappear, it will not be replaced,” said Polonsky in the Pantheon Q&A. “It is a beautiful work by a beautiful person. We are thinking of it a bit like an homage, and the best thing we can do is just carry on this spirit and treat it as a work of art, and I am not afraid to say that it should even have a bit of entertainment.”
‘Did you see that pair of melons she’s sprouted?’
Although there have been quite a few graphic and comic-based diary adaptations over the years, this is the first to have been produced in partnership with the Anne Frank Fonds. Based in Basel, the foundation was set up by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, to carry on her legacy.
As holders of the rights to Anne’s writings, the Fonds allowed Folman and Polonsky not only use of the text, but the ability to switch some of what Anne wrote into modern lexicon.
Ari Folman (left) and David Polonsky (courtesy: Anne Frank Fonds)
In all probability, for example, Anne never referred to Mrs. van Pels as “a diva from hell.” Likewise, it’s hard to imagine Peter whispering “Penis!” to Anne from across the dinner table, in front of both families, during the pair’s courtship.
Other memorable touches include Anne burning Dr. Pfeffer’s underpants after he lazily leaves a pair of them on top of her diary, as well as a glimpse into a short story Anne wrote called “Cady’s Life,” in which a young woman is released from an asylum to discover her boyfriend is a Nazi.
Among scenes of despair in the Annex, there are office thefts, illnesses, and a handful of bodily function jokes — known to have been a favorite of Otto Frank’s — to break up the gloom. Among the giggle-inducing one-liners, Anne comments about a girl, “Did you see that pair of melons she’s sprouted?”
The ‘lost’ seven months
Only a few of the novel’s 160 pages are devoted to illustrating the plight of Dutch Jews under Nazi occupation, including the deportation and murder of more than 100,000 members of the community.
Importantly, the adaptation includes depictions of the Jews’ exclusion from Dutch society under Nazi rule. Later, there are scenes of “round-ups” in Amsterdam, during which Jews were arrested for deportation. However, very little context about the Holocaust is given apart from an image of cattle cars — with actual cattle boarding them — and another of a death camp that resembles a bungalow. While adult fans of the diary do not need historical context, they are not the target audience.
A photo of Anne Frank at the opening of the 2009 exhibition: ‘Anne Frank, a History for Today,’ at the Westerbork Remembrance Centre in Hooghalen, northeast Netherlands. (AP Photo/Bas Czerwinski, File)
Despite meticulous research, a few mistakes made it into “The Graphic Adaptation.” For example, the Frank family is shown celebrating Hanukkah with a large Christmas tree in their pre-war apartment. Although the family celebrated Christmas with their Dutch “helpers” during the hiding period, the Franks did not celebrate Christmas in their pre-war home, much less with a tall, well-decorated tree next to the menorah.
According to reports, Folman’s animated film will not be based on the diary alone. Rather, the plot involves Frank’s fictional friend “Kitty” — for whom she named the diary — coming to life in the present day. Within the framework of Kitty attempting to discover what happened to Anne, the last seven months of the diarist’s life will be recreated.
Unlike the graphic novel, the film will focus on what took place after the Annex Jews were captured by the SS and Dutch Nazis on August 4, 1944.
Teaching about the Holocaust’s mechanisms “[was] not above everything else” in creating the graphic novel, said Folman. The upcoming film, however, is based on the testimony of survivors who saw Anne Frank during the final months of her life. As such, viewers will be taken far from her comforting letters to Kitty, the diary to which she never returned.
The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon’s security agencies.
It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
South African fans in Cairo celebrating their team’s win over Egypt at the African Cup of Nations. Photo: Reuters / Sumaya Hisham.
Three days after South Africa stunned the world of international soccer by knocking hosts Egypt out of the 2019 African Cup of Nations, the sound of elation remains clearly detectable in the voice of the team’s Jewish midfielder, Dean Furman.
“It was a fantastic victory, just fantastic,” Furman told The Algemeiner during a break in training on Tuesday, as South Africa prepared for its crucial quarterfinal game against Nigeria, another of the continent’s toughest sides, tomorrow.
Pieter van Oordt, left, with his brother, Roger, at the Israel
For the second time in recent history, a Dutch Christian organization dedicated to supporting Israel has gone head-to-head with the government. With their family tradition of belief in Israel that preceded the state of Israel by almost one hundred years, it seems unlikely that the van Oordts are about to back down, no matter what the odds.
Last month, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy made a request from the management of the Israel Products Center (IPC) to ensure they were in compliance with regulations adopted in 2015 by the European Commission requiring products made by Jewish owned companies in Judea, Samaria, the Golan Heights, and sections of Jerusalem to be labeled in a manner indicating their origins.
Studies have shown that dairy cows contribute large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, caused by the organisms living in their microbiomes.
Genetically modifying cows may help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and feed world populations, a new study led by Prof. Itzhak Mizrahi of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev suggests.
“Our findings are both a major breakthrough for basic science and will have a positive impact on two major challenges facing the international community for the foreseeable future: climate change and food security,” Mizrahi said.
The decision by IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi to promote Brig. Gen. Ofer Winter reflects his future political aspirations.
Incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi walks out at the end of a handover ceremony where he replaces Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, Israel, Jan. 15, 2019.
Israel has its own version of Napoleon’s famous saying, “Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.” In these parts, every general carries a prime minister’s baton — or at least that of a defense minister — in his pack
As Islamist Watch has pointed out many times before, Islam is enormously diverse – containing many competing schools of theology, schools of jurisprudence, sects, ethnicities, cultures and mysticisms. Islamism is also not a single force; it comprises dozens of (both) competing and collaborating radical ideologies.
One of the most intriguing divisions, then, within both American Islam and Islamism of late has been growing dissent over the question of liberalism.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, I ran an article about how incredibly fake the news coverage was about his inauguration. (Those reading my site know I’m not a big Trump fan, but credit where credit is due and calling fake where calling fake is due.) The media was nothing short of spectacularly fake in the news it contrived that week on CNN, the New York Times and the other major fake media, and they mostly got away with it.
It wasn’t condescension or contempt. Recent remarks by former Mossad head Shabtai Shavit reek of racism. That is the proper way to frame them, calling them anything else is letting him off easy. In its classic, formal sense, racism is when a certain social sector perceives itself as superior because of clear racial criteria. Shavit represents an updated version of racism that doesn’t require ethnicity or religion as proof of a defect – you can call it “essential racism.”
Little Napoleon Barak is going to save Israeli Democracy? What a bunch of claptrap Orwellian doublespeak.
Well let’s check out history. How well did the original Napoleon save France’s democratic revolution against the monarchy?
Hmm, if I recall he crowned himself emperor!
For years, the pundits have been telling us that Israeli democracy is in danger because of the Arab birthrate, or because of the Jewish nation-state law, or because of the debates over the powers of Israel’s High Court.
I wonder if they will recognize the danger posed by the 10 left-wing American Jewish organizations that have formed a new umbrella organization, the essential purpose of which is to undermine Israeli democracy.