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.
At the same time, the Trump administration is readying further possible sanctions on Venezuela, the official said.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro attends a military exercise in Maracaibo. (photo credit: MIRAFLORES PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
WASHINGTON, Feb 8 – The United States is holding direct communications with members of Venezuela’s military urging them to abandon leader Nicolas Maduro and is also preparing new sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on him, a senior White House official said.
The Shalva Band following their final performance on “Rising Star.” Photo: Screenshot.
The Shalva Band has removed itself from the race to represent Israel in this year’s Eurovision competition because some of its members observed Shabbat and would not be able to partake in mandatory rehearsals, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.
The group, made up of eight musicians who have special needs, was one of four finalists in the “Rising Star” singing contest — the winner of which will represent Israel in Eurovision, set to be held in Tel Aviv in May.
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As Birthright Israel reaches its 700,000th participant, certain voices in America have done their best to slander the organization and force it to make drastic changes. Having staffed multiple Birthright trips as a madrich (youth leader), I have had the amazing opportunity to pass on some of the love for Israel that helped change my life.
Local police in Manchester’s Whitefield neighborhood declared the vandalism a criminal act rather than antisemitic.
Protesters hold placards and flags during a demonstration, organised by the British Board of Jewish Deputies for those who oppose anti-Semitism, in Parliament Square in London, Britain, March 26, 2018.. (photo credit: HENRY NICHOLLS/REUTERS)
The Philips Park Jewish cemetery in Manchester, England, was vandalized on Saturday, during which the tomb of Rabbi Yehuda Zev Segal, who died last year, was desecrated.
Protestors call for the severing of diplomatic ties with Israel during a march in Cape Town. (photo credit: MIKE HUTCHINGS / REUTERS)
A proposed multi-million dollar deal between Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) and South Africa’s biggest dairy producer Clover could be in serious trouble due to heavy pressure from the anti-Israel lobby.
Newly-formed consortium Milco, in which Israel’s Central Bottling Company (CBC) holds a majority, is offering to buy 59.5% of the South African dairy producer.
We need to give the Likud Party some credit for not destroying itself in Tuesday’s internal elections. Given that primaries are the very embodiment of deal-making, political machines and big worker unions voting in lockstep, the results could have been far worse.
When it came to casting a secret ballot, the Likud Party’s registered voters did display some maturity. They weren’t the obedient foot soldiers of Benjamin Netanyahu, who has failed again and again in his machinations.
With elections barely two months away, the greatest challenge facing Israel’s Right emanates neither from the Center nor the Left, but, rather, from within.
Indeed, if recent polls are accurate, several small parties on the Right, most of which may not individually pass the minimum threshold to make it into the next Knesset, could nonetheless win a combined total of 10 to 12 seats, all of which would end up in the dustbin if they fail to run together.
August 2017, white supremacists marched in Charlottesville shouting, “Jews will not replace us”. October 2018, one white supremacist posted on social media that “Jews are taking over the white house”, and that Trump is a puppet of the Jews. Shabbat, the same month, a man enters a synagogue during a Bris celebration and butchers Jewish people who are praying. December 2018, Women’s March leader and Louis Farrakhan (“I’m not an antisemite, I’m an anti-termite”) fan, Tamika Mallory says: “White Jews, as white people, uphold white supremacy…”
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Henry Ford does not deserve to be honored. The question the good people of Dearborn should ask themselves is: What would you do if the performing arts center were named after Jefferson Davis? If the answer is that you would remove Davis’s name, then you should remove Ford’s.
It was reported recently that the USA and the Taliban have reached a peace agreement on Afghanistan that will allow US forces to leave that country 17 years after they invaded it on October, 2001, less than a month after 9/11.
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