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Anne Frank reanimated

A wall of children's pajamas envelops MOT's Anne Frank exhibit
A wall of children's pajamas envelops MOT's Anne Frank exhibit
Museum of Tolerance/Simon Wiesenthal Center

I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! - Anne Frank, April 5, 1944

While other publications recount celebrities lost during this calendar year, the LA Animation Examiner reveals a more spirited chronicle. 2013 marks two new reincarnations of Anne Frank, whose diary is a definitive account of events related to the Holocaust.

Interestingly, both of the aforementioned creative endeavors involve animation. They also reinvigorate Anne Frank's personal, yet highly relatable, journey.

As of mid October, Anne Frank inhabits the Los Angeles location of the Museum of Tolerance (MOT)/Simon Wiesenthal Center. Anne is an interactive exhibit that illuminates various aspects of Anne Frank's life before and during her family's flight from the Nazis. MOT collaborates with Washington, D. C.-based design firm Yazdani Studio on the expansive, multi-media presentation. In addition, MOT cooperates with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, and the Anne Frank Foundation in Basel, Switzerland (Anne Frank Fonds Basel) to realize this immersive experience, containing memorabilia, historically accurate reproductions of consumer goods and personal effects, video, sound, and computer imagery .

Highlights of Anne include a small screen, CG animated recreation of the obscure living quarters, or Secret Annex, that housed the Frank family and four acquaintances for approximately two years. Surprisingly, the accommodations appear cozy and almost playful (as in, a child's playhouse or a smartly renovated attic apartment); however, such charm might be a by-product of the medium. As enthusiasts know, animation has the power to transform even the darkest of subjects into artistically viable, general audience (as in, rated G) fare (see Snow White, The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, etc.).

Additional sources of whimsy are Anne's shared-bedroom, wall-mounted images of movie stars and European royalty. These beloved pictures appear prominently in the animated, interactive Secret Annex tour.

Various symbols of youthful idealism contrast with harsh reminders of Anne Frank's fate. One example is the winding wall fashioned from vintage children's pajamas. This partition typifies the innocent lives lost during the Nazi regime.

Another of the high points in MOT's Anne Frank attraction is the live action/animated short film Secret Annex, which unspools on a 180 degree screen in a customized 25-seat theatre. Besides the movie's shadowy, dreamlike, arresting visuals, including various montages depicting life within and outside the Secret Annex, the sound design is breathtaking. Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld executes poignant voice-over narration as Anne Frank. Punctuating the action are expertly alternating moments of silence and random bursts of jarring sound effects. The result is edge-of-your-seat terror, especially as audiences anticipate the Nazi violation of the hidden haven.

Besides the MOT accomplishment, there is a second, unrelated, yet important, Anne Frank news story of 2013. Israeli, Oscar nominated, Waltz with Bashir and The Congress filmmaker Ari Folman is in development on a family-friendly animated theatrical feature film about Anne Frank. Production starts in December, 2014.

Folman's film is the first with full access to Anne Frank Fonds Basel and its associated archives. The Fonds, established in 1963, is the brainchild of Anne Frank's late father Otto.

Postscript to Anne Frank: you continue to amaze the world with your ability to be useful, bring enjoyment, and live even after your death! Thanks for your gift. It certainly continues to give.

For more information about the Museum of Tolerance and Anne, see

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