Like the sun pouring through the attic’s broken skylight, the power of George Stevens’ THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK and Alfred Newman‘s beautiful score shines a ray of light into the Franks’ shattered lives.
According to Newman, “George decided that our film shouldn’t be one of doom and gloom but we should concentrate on the love and humor of these people…the music would be motivated by high ideals, the tenderness and the spiritual qualities inherent in their family life and their special badge of courage…I attempted to evoke the memory of a happier past, the hope for a happier future, the longings of oppressed people and the love of family, one for the other, and most of all, the great dignity and courage of the Frank family and their friends in the face of disaster. For Anne, I tried to achieve in her music, her simple candor, her warmth, and her abiding and inspiring faith.”
Newman’s score speaks the words that the residents in hiding cannot. The music is particularly moving when conveying the unspoken burgeoning affection between Anne (Millie Perkins) and Peter (Richard Beymer). In one scene the two young lovers speak not a word, and yet Newman’s music conveys every bit of their emotion. With those inimitable Newman strings steadily climbing towards the heavens, pining and yearning, no words are necessary.
This lovely music reappears in the film’s penultimate scene. As sirens are heard getting closer and closer, the music takes on a new note of desperation. Sensing the end is near, Anne and Peter kiss one last, desperate time. Newman’s strings surge ever higher and the French horns seem to be crying out “Peter, Peter!”
If Newman’s music doesn’t make you a blubbering mess like me—or at least bring a tear to your eye—you’re made of stone.