Well, where is he?

Well, where is he?

Review of the animation “Where’s Anne Frank” from our cultural charge.

Producer: Ari Follman

spit: Michael Maloney, Emily Curry, Sky Bennett, Robbie Stokes, Sebastian Croft

the first show: May 5 2022

Anne Frank has long gone beyond her human nature, turning into a very powerful anti-war symbol. Basically, it is respected in Europe, especially in America. Western culture has turned the Jewish girl into a persistent myth of a war-torn and xenophobic childhood.

For the Russian-speaking viewer, it is necessary to clarify that the girl became famous thanks to her touching memoirs, where she described everything that happened to the Jews in Germany and Holland in the forties with childlike spontaneity.

Being a Jew from a purely Jewish family, Frank suffered to the fullest, going through all hell’s immigration circles, underground concentration camps, until she died of typhus at the end of the war. The child diligently recorded most of his feelings in his diary, which after the fall of the Nazi regime became a bestseller in the world.

Over the years, Anna’s legacy has been filmed, performed in theaters, joked standing up, and used in scholarly publications. And this means that in 2022 a direct adaptation does not make sense literally, because only in postmodern processing can something new be said about the difficult fate of a Jewish girl.

The creators of the cartoon primarily address the issue of turning a person into a legend. From the beginning of the story, we see crowds lined up to touch the legend, but not imbued with the ideas of humanity.

The story is told by a 21st century girl named Kitty. She became so fond of Frank’s memoirs that she apparently struck up a relationship with the author’s soul. Anyway, Kitty takes Anna seriously as her imaginary friend.

Do not think that history unfolds exclusively in modern facts. After introducing the heroes, the authors now and then move the viewer to 43, playing in contrast: modernity appears in bright colors, emphasizing neglect today, and wartime is painted in contrasting black, where the swastika burns only brighter than the sun frightens Anne Frank and the viewer.

Remember that for more than a year, Frank sat in the attic not to be caught by the Nazis. The girl was afraid of every rustle and any figure in a black cloak that caused her extreme terror. In the cartoon, this is reflected by the swastika hanging over the whole world. Hanging like a bright spot from the walls, this symbol shone from the shoulders of the Stormtroopers and implied that no one and nothing would be hiding from it.

In the modern world, only symbols remained from all this, only with the opposite message. In Amsterdam today, everything bears the name Anne Frank, only the matter does not go beyond the names. The main character goes from house to house, asking everyone “Where’s Anna?”. Nobody can answer them. The authors seem to want to say that since we don’t want to understand what’s behind the symbols, we believe one is “good, because it’s good,” the second “bad, because they said so,” and then differ little from those who look for Jews in the attics.

Everything would be fine, but the creators walk on very thin ice, use concept substitution and move the left position without hesitation, which is a little unclear. In particular, some bewilderment is caused by a parallel with the policemen then and the policemen of today.

The social commentary here is at this level: “white gentlemen” are eating in cafes, refugees are starving in tents, and the police are checking their documents. Director Follmann frequently compares the Dutch police today to the Nazis. And this is in Holland! The author sees Nazism in police persecution of immigrants.

In one scene, Kitty disguises himself directly with Anne Frank, hiding in a dark place from people in uniform. The artist is clearly a free person and sees the world as he pleases, but these direct references seem very tense. Especially when it comes to a simple tram console: Kitty did not pay for the ticket, and was thrown out of the passenger compartment. The horrors of Nazism revolve around exactly this.

The main character and her best friend Peter are natural thieves. Kitty stole Frank’s things from the museum in order to feel more connected to the girl’s spirit (a worthy motive, especially in the context of animation, but it wouldn’t work in the area), and Peter is a simple boy.

Caring about refugee rights is worth it, but what about being competent citizens? Today, after all, not the nineteenth century, children can find work, distribute newspapers there, sell lemonade and respect. And it is okay if Peter himself stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but he simply steals from those he considers rich.

However, politics is the only thing wrong with cartoons. Close your eyes to it and come face to face with a touching story and very warm animation. For one drawing for this picture, you can forgive everything else. “Where’s Anne Frank” is a treat for the eyes and ears, but there is an unpleasant aftertaste after viewing.

Supposedly, Anne Frank never urged the rich to eat, so the director did exactly the same with her negative characters: she took a symbol and added it to the list of supporters of her understanding of the world.


Alexander Gubkin

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