Where is Anne Frank?: “One of the best animated films of this century”
“People will always find a minority to blame for the bad things that happen to them”, an animated Anne Frank tells her imaginary friend Kitty after she asks why the Nazis have targeted the Jewish people, pointing out that they are not the only group to be ostracised from society. Director Ari Folman gives viewers a modern update of one of the most famous real-life stories of all time with Where is Anne Frank? It’s unfortunate that this picture is screening out of competition as being arguably one of the best animated films of this century, it could have been a strong contender for the Palme d’Or.
The story begins with Kitty being awakened and summoned from the famous diary in current-day Amsterdam after the book is struck by lightning. To her, no time has passed and she starts looking for the Frank family, unable to understand why the house is full of visitors, from bored tourists to petty thieves and even Justin Bieber – an allusion to his infamous comment, “hopefully she would have been a Belieber”. The character becomes aware that she is unable to survive unless close to the book, so she steals it, causing a public child hunt while she searches for answers regarding what happened to her best friend.
Where is Anne Frank? takes a leaf out of Cartoon Saloon’s (Song of The Sea, The Secret of Kells) book by taking a story deeply embedded in history and giving it a modern context. This feature strives to illuminate how although people often think of the Holocaust as something of the past, there are still remnants of the event in today’s world. The protagonist finds herself in a house full of refugees who are about to be deported back to their home countries and realises that the original story has not been understood the way it should be. She calls out to the people of Amsterdam, “Anne did not write this diary for you to worship her”, but instead for them to go through life always helping others in any way they can.
The picture also portrays the young girl herself in a much rawer light; instead of the holy, gracious child people like to think she was, she is painted as angry, anxious and frustrated. She fights with her parents and revels the attention of boys. There are no faults to this film from an animation point of view: portraying the sunny streets of Amsterdam before the family went into hiding and then painting the Nazis as dementor-like monsters, the movie captures every emotion, from happiness to sadness and fear.
Where is Anne Frank? is a masterpiece that blends past with present to create a refreshing, fantastical and devastating new perspective on the titular girl and her diary.
Where is Anne Frank? does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Where is Anne Frank? here: