An illustrated abridgement of the Nazi-era classic.
Anne Frank (1929-1945) as graphic-history heroine? Adapter and composer Folman and illustrator Polonsky (Animation and Illustration/Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design) worked together on the Oscar-nominated animated documentary Waltz with Bashir. According to Folman, they were approached by the Anne Frank Foundation about adapting the diary into both “an animated film for children” and a graphic novel that would introduce it to a new generation of readers. He then faced a “significant challenge”—to render the whole diary in graphic form might take a decade to complete and some 3,500 pages, while a more manageable “edit” could feature only 5 percent of the original text. Though he opted for the latter course, the abridgment retains the spirit of the whole as the perceptive and increasingly self-aware teenager navigates the usual tensions of adolescence—puberty, romance, family issues—within a nightmarish retreat from the Nazi atrocities intensifying outside their secret hideout. She feels guilty about any everyday cheerfulness she experiences in the face of so much death and destruction, and she succumbs to bouts of depression despite her typical resilience. “Even deep sleep brings no redemption,” she writes. “The dreams still creep in.” Those dreams bring out the best of the illustrations amid the depictions of the everyday confinement in which Anne, her family, and others are hiding. They were captured toward the end of the war, after the end of the diary, when the gas chambers were on the eve of being dismantled. Though she wasn’t aware of her fate, Anne writes with much awareness of not only herself, but a potential readership, with the literary aspirations of someone who feels she has “one outstanding character trait…a great deal of self-knowledge. In everything I do, I can watch myself as if I were a stranger.”
A different format distills and renews Frank’s achievement.