Anne Frank graphic novel and film in the making

The 160-page graphic-novel version of The Diary Of Anne Frank is an abridged version of the original.
The 160-page graphic-novel version of The Diary Of Anne Frank is an abridged version of the original.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

PARIS • A graphic-novel version of The Diary Of Anne Frank by the creators of the Oscar-nominated anti- war film Waltz With Bashir will roll off the presses next month, its publishers said on Monday.

Israeli writer-director Ari Folman and illustrator David Polonsky - who made the acclaimed 2008 animated documentary about Israeli soldiers during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon - are also making a film about Frank, to appear in 2019.

The diary the Frankfurt-born, Jewish teenager kept, while hiding in an Amsterdam attic in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands until her capture in 1944, is one of the most-read books in the world.

Folman said he had some insight into Frank's suffering since his parents were Holocaust survivors.

"Anne and her family arrived at the gates of Auschwitz the same day my parents arrived there," he said.

Frank died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp some time in early 1945, aged 15. The camp was liberated by British troops in April.

Folman said that when the Anne Frank Foundation suggested they adapt the diary, "our first response was, 'No way!'" - for them, the diary was sacrosanct.

But after thinking about it for a while, they realised it would be crucial to take the story to a new generation.

"I am afraid we are coming to a time when there will be no survivors of the Holocaust left alive and no more witnesses to tell their stories," Folman said.

"There is a severe threat that the things we have to learn (from the Holocaust) will not be taught and learned, if we don't find a new language for them."

The graphic novel will first appear in Dutch, German, French and Spanish in about 50 countries from next month, with an English version following in spring.

The 160-page book is an abridged version of the original because "it would take more than 3,500 pages to fully adapt it", Folman said.

However, several letters Anne Frank wrote to her imaginary friend Kitty have been included in full.

Folman said they tried to "preserve Anne's rather biting sense of humour, her sarcasm and her obsession with food".

The original "has a lot of humour", Polonsky said. "It is a beautiful work by a beautiful person... and the best thing we can do is just carry on this spirit and treat it as a work of art, and I am not afraid to say that it should even be a bit of entertainment."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2017, with the headline 'Anne Frank graphic novel and film in the making'. Subscribe