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March 04, 1996 12:00 PM

Documentary produced, written and directed by Jon Blair

Meip Gies, a matronly Dutch citizen in her mid-80s, is an unlikely movie star, but neither Greta Garbo nor Ingrid Bergman ever held a screen as firmly as Gies does in this often heartbreaking documentary.

A native Austrian who helped protect the Franks as they hid in their attic—and who salvaged Anne’s diary—Gies is one of a series of aging and articulate friends and relatives of the Franks whom Blair interviews. Intertwined are old stills and archival footage, including film of Anne herself, accidentally captured on celluloid by a wedding photographer while Anne was looking out a window in 1941. Even Anne’s father, Otto, who survived the camps (he died in 1980), appears in interviews conducted during the ’70s.

There are no real revelations, though Blair is not afraid to suggest that Anne was not always a sweetheart. Witnesses remember her as often impudent and driven by a need for attention. But she remains the sympathetic focal point of a real drama that continues to be irresistibly moving. (PG)

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