Sunday, March 10, 2019

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

The Diary of Anne Frank is one of the most read books in the world, which may beg the question of whether or not a graphic adaptation of it is necessary, but I have to say that I was blown away by this work. It is expressive, incorporates disparate pieces of artwork into the story, and creates a context for both exploring humanity and horror at the same time. Anne and her family spent years hiding from Nazis in an annex in Amsterdam during World War II. Along with some others they shared the cramped quarters, living in as quiet and unobtrusive fashion as possible. And all the while they listened for scraps of news and hope while hearing bombing and shooting all around them.
As if this atmosphere was not bad enough, Anne also had to deal with lots of other personal dynamics, including a rivalry with her older sister, a crush on a boy, and having to share her room with an adult man dentist. What I feel this book captures best about the work is 13-year-old Anne's sense of figuring out the world and her place in it, ironically at a time when she was sequestered and eventually taken out of it. This book is full of humanity, wisdom, and sadness, and the artwork only exemplifies the beauty and thoughtfulness of its prose.

As an educator, I often think of how to use a book like this, and I feel that it could be used in several ways. It could be read alone, in tandem with the original book that it excerpts, or it could also be excerpted itself to draw attention to particular passages. I was very impressed with this book, especially in how it uses various visual styles and formats to adapt the diary entries. Sometimes, it plays with a single image, often cribbed from a classical art source.
Sometimes, it uses straight forward comics, and others it features an illustration with an entire diary entry. I think that its creators were savvy in selecting which sections to summarize and adapt and which to present in more whole fashion. This adaptation is superlative, and it is prelude to an animated feature that is nearing the end of production. If it is anything like this book, it should be excellent.

This adapted book was a collaboration between Ari Folman and David Polonsky. Folman is an Orphir Award and Golden Globe Award winning director and screenwriter. Polonsky has worked as an art director, children's book illustrator, and animator. Both collaborated on the lauded animated film Waltz with Bashir. This interview sheds light on both creators' work on this book.

The reviews I have read about it have been largely positive. Ruth Franklin wrote, "Their book is brilliantly conceived and gorgeously realized." Publishers Weekly's starred review concluded, "The beauty of Anne’s life and the untarnished power of her legacy—here further elevated by Folman and Polonsky—are heartening reminders of the horror of her fate." Gene Ambaum called it "spacious, interpretive, and altogether wonderful."

Anne Frank's Diary was published by Pantheon, and they offer a preview and more here.

The publisher provided a review copy.

1 comment:

  1. I'm appreciate your writing skill. Please keep on working hard. Thanks for sharing.