Friday, 29 January 2010

The Diary of Anne Frank- Yes An Actual Serious Post

Wow this must be a record, three posts in one week. Or it just means I'm back in labs.

Anyway I'm going slightly off topic today for a more meaningful yet less theatrical post that has been hanging around my head for a few days. As a nice interlude to my evenings I've been re-watching the BBC's production of the Diary of Anne Frank (which they annoyingly spread across three weeks). Now everyone knows the story of the plucky young girl who hid in the attic from the Nazis only to be caught only months from liberation eventually dying in a concentration camp from tuberculosis.

But there were two aspects of this adaptation that caught my attention. The first was Anne's blossoming relationship with Peter Van Dann and her discovery of her body and her sexuality. I assume my reason for not knowing this was that most coverage of Anne Frank's diary took place at school which is hardly a forum for discussing sex. Thinking about it there may be another reason. The bible has always been thought to have been doctored to cut out anything unpleasant or derogatory to Jesus and I think the same has been done to dear St Anne. We try to make out that she is a sweet innocent girl who harmlessly posts about her struggle- the poster child for Nazi brutality. But she was also a teenager; she didn't always get on with her parents, she didn't always do the right thing and she was going through puberty. We tend to ignore this and just go for the hardship of living in cramped conditions in fear of you life the entire time. Whilst I can't relate to Anne's situation- the part that is most often emphasised, I can relate to Anne's feelings of loneliness and inability to fit in with those around her who all seem to be getting on perfectly.

Re-watching the series really brought this back to me even if Anne's world was a tad smaller than my own, her experiences were just concentrated into a confined space which always brings the worst out of people. I feel that if teenage girls were taught about this part of Anne's life they would probably find the diary more interesting and less of "something we have to read in English class". I've always found that English classes suck the life out of anything you read (hence my dislike of them teaching Shakespeare and Harry Potter- I've only come to rediscover the beauty of Shakespeare at the age of 21, watching Hamlet over Christmas).

The other aspect that I'd never noticed was most prevalent in the last episode. As we sense the end is near for Anne, she embarks on some soliloquy about why writing is so important to her and why she must write to make a difference to the world. I've come to realise I'm the same. Ellie Kendrick as Anne plays the mood just right and presents Anne not as the sweet innocent child we have been led to perceive she is but as a developing woman, stubborn and strong and with her own mind.

I know I can write, I’m sure I can, after all I’m my own harshest critic. I know what is good and what isn’t. If you don’t write yourself you don’t know how wonderful it is. When I write all my sadness disappears. But, and it’s a big but. Will I ever be able to write something great?

I've recently been thinking the same. Is there a point to my writing? Does anyone actually read it and take anything from it. Of course, mine has much less of an importance than Anne's diary but she may have thought the same at the time. Who wants to read a teenager's diary? For all I know nobody actually cares about theatre which does make me think should I be writing about something more worthwhile? I certainly don't feel like writing a lot about myself at the moment and I wouldn't want to share my feelings with the world so I write about what I know; the theatre. But is this just puerile compared to say, the situation in Haiti or the many warnings of terrorism we see. Another quote from Anne reflects my feelings about making my writing mean something :

I haven’t got much time don’t you see, I have to do this. I don’t want to be a movie star anymore, I want to be a writer. He doesn’t understand me. I’m going have a different life from most girls. I don’t want to be like mother or all those other women who have a family and then their forgotten. I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people I want to go on living even after my death.

For some reason I feel really silly comparing myself to a 14 year old girl who died in terrible circumstances but I guess it just shows that deep down we can all share the same feelings. At the moment I'm feeling that nobody understands me, I don't like Chemistry, I don't want to be in this (metaphorically) toxic lab environment. I want to be writing and doing what I love. It's an escape from the humdrum. Anne wants to go on living after her death and I feel the same, what is the point of living if not? I guess this is why I originally wanted to become a chemist- to make a difference in the world, discover something wonderful. But the spark has gone and I move onto another career path that allows me to be noticed and not just forgotten by those around me.
I'm feeling rather melancholy now, perhaps I should stop before I have to call a therapist. I'll leave you with Anne's last entry and the link to the last episode so you can see the story unfold for yourself.

The Diary of Anne Frank Episode 5

Deep down the young are lonelier than the old, its hard for us in this mad world. How can we hold onto our opinions when ideals are being shattered and destroyed? When everyone comes to doubt truth, justice and God. I see the world being transformed into a wilderness. I hear the approaching thunder, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that in spite of everything people are good at heart.

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