While a “graphic adaptation” of Anne Frank’s Diary that takes frequent liberties with the text might strike some as a disastrous idea, Ruth Franklin finds the one created by Ari Folman and David Polonsky “a stunning, haunting work of art that is unfortunately marred by some questionable interpretive choices.” She writes:
This graphic adaptation is so engaging and effective that it’s easy to imagine it replacing the [original] Diary in classrooms and among younger readers. For that reason especially, it seems a mistake not to have included more in the way of critical apparatus to explain the ways the creators diverged from the historical record, especially when they touch most directly on the Holocaust.
There is, for example, a naïve, stylized rendering of a concentration-camp scene, which makes sense as a representation of Anne’s fantasies—she didn’t know the barbaric specifics of what was going on around her—but risks confusing students, who might not know that Auschwitz wasn’t in fact a big green square surrounded by pleasant-looking buildings with huge canisters reading “GAS” plugged into them. . . .
[Moreover], Folman and Polonsky depict Anne as a schoolgirl, a friend, a sister, a girlfriend and a reluctantly obedient daughter. But only once, at the close of the book, do they show her in the act of writing. In so doing, they perpetuate the misconception about the book that so many have come to know, love, and admire—it was, in truth, not a hastily scribbled private diary, but a carefully composed and considered text. As artists, they ought to understand how important it is to recognize Anne’s achievement on her own terms, as she intended it. Their book is brilliantly conceived and gorgeously realized; sadly, it does a disservice to the remarkable writer at its center.