Adapted by Ari Folman
Illustrated by David Polonsky
BY JENNIFER CHEUK
The adaption of Anne Frank’s Diary into a graphic novel is, inevitably, a contentious move. However, I believe this visual adaption handled the original piece of literature very well. The artwork did not overshadow Anne’s writing and neither did it intend to be a substitute for her thoughts. The art was clearly a visual interpretation (keyword: interpretation) rather than an attempt to imagine what Anne would draw had she provided illustrations for her journal. I appreciated this aspect of the graphic novel a lot- I was initially worried the artwork would be constructed from a faux-Anne perspective.
I really loved that the medium of Anne’s diary was not lost. The adaption still retained full pages of text that were a nice homage to the original. As the adapter’s note specifies: “It seemed intolerable to forgo these later entries in favour of illustrations, and so we chose to reproduce long passages in their entirety unillustrated”. The text was commissioned by the Anne Frank Fonds (a charitable society founded by Anne’s father Otto Frank) and I believe they asked the right people to adapt and illustrate Anne’s diary. Every detail was clearly taken into consideration alongside the original text. All entries that were to be truncated or amalgamated were done so in such a way that the graphic novel did not feel sparse or clumsy. The visualisation of Anne’s thoughts, sarcasm, imagination and emotion was close to perfect, and did not impose on her original words.
In saying that though, the graphic novel version should not substitute the original text. I do believe this adaption makes Anne Frank’s Diary much more accessible to younger readers, and could serve as a good teaching supplement, but in no way, should this be an alternative. Some of the contextual information about Anne’s personality, her lyricism and her overall spunk was a little lost in the graphic novel adaption. I believe that the graphic novel adaption should be read alongside, or with the intention of reading the original text.
I do recommend this graphic novel to lovers of Anne’s diary, and to reluctant readers who would benefit from a visual segue into the original. I did thoroughly enjoy the graphic adaption and loved the accompanying artwork. The artwork had a wonderful style that was versatile enough to connect with both Anne’s introspective hope and melancholic moments.
Jennifer Cheuk is an English/Communications and Linguistics major with a passion for graphic novels and sophisticated picture books. She likes eating grated cheese and watching niche films. Can be found cartooning and writing on instagram: @selcouthbird.
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