FOX has released one of the many great George Stevens films, "THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK" on blu-ray. The fact inspired story, tells the tale of two families, the Franks and the Van Daans, who hide in a tiny loft, masked by a bookcase covered entrance, in Amsterdam. Hoping to avoid being murdered by the Nazis, this great film demonstrates the insurmountable odds ordinary people had to face, just in the hope of surviving. Stevens uses his imagery and camera movement with precision and restraint. The feeling of the claustrophobic environment is palpable, but, like those who had to endure it, audiences are easily able to focus on the story at hand, making those instances when we're reminded of the confines, even more powerful and poignant. Scenes in which the families huddle near a small radio, seeking to learn anything from the world outside, which they can't see, leave an unforgettable imprint. It's hard to imagine many directors being able to create the kind of enduring classic that "DIARY OF ANNE FRANK," other than Stevens. So much about life is showcased in this simple setting, as audiences experience real fear, drama, first love, and even, on a rare occasion, mild humor. The pressure of the world closing in, brilliantly echoes the vice-like confines these two families are unfairly forced into, all leading up to a powerful, poignant, but still inspiring end.
FOX has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release. Although there are some limited signs of wear and tear popping up occasionally, the image boasts great detail in comparison to previous dvd and laserdisc presentations. The image never offers the kind of depth which jumps off the screen, but the black and white image is crisp, and contrast is impressive, with deep blacks. A good transfer, just not great.
FOX has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. While surrounds are virtually non-existent, the use of sound effects is still engaging. Subtle effects off into the distance, within earshot of the main characters, but which can't be inspected, resonate within the characters' dilemma, further bringing the viewer into identifying with their peril. Music is well presented. Dialogue is impressive for the most part, however, it gets overshadowed by effects on rare occasions.
Tons of extras here! A great commentary track with the director's son and former head of the AFI, George Stevens, Jr., is terrific for all of his insight and first-hand knowledge.
Featurettes(in 480p) offer interviews with the various cast members, as well as a look at the film's sound and music. A lengthy documentary examines the events behind the film, offering more interviews and clips. There's much, much more, mostly comprised of historical footage, interviews, and film clips. Any fan of the film should have this in their collection.