‘A Small Light’ Review: The Anne Frank Story from a Fresh Point of View

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Anne Frank has become one of the most important and powerful anti-war icons around the world. The tale of such a young girl trapped in hiding from the Nazis is a powerful one, so there is no surprise that the tale has managed to travel around the entire world. There have been many interpretations of the story both on TV, in books, and, of course, in cinema. However, the point of view often always rests on Anne herself and not the people who also lived the tragedy. A Small Light, a new Disney+ TV series, is here to change that fact.

The series is created by Tony Phelan and Joan Rater. The episodes will be released first on National Geographic and then on Disney+ the day after. The series stars Bel Powley, Liev Schreiber, Joe Cole, Amira Casar, and Billie Boullet. The series tells the story of Miep Gies, a young woman whose employer asks at the time, a man named Otto Frank to hide him and his family from the Nazis during World War II. The series focuses on Miep as a person and all the difficulties and responsibilities that came to her when she chose to help the Frank family.

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National Geographic has been killing it lately with its scripted content. Of course, these types of shows are still a minority within the channel, but it seems like they are increasing in number for now. However, now with the incoming Writer’s strike, it could be that this will be the last of the National Geographic scripted shows, at least for a while. There is just too much content in the streaming platforms, and the studios don’t really know how to make money with them. It is an awful situation, and it is still in development.

Anyway, talking about the show itself. We must say that the story of Anne Frank and everything surrounding her remains just as compelling as ever. The series takes a chance of parting away from Anne’s point of view and builds Miep as the major protagonist. The result is successful, and by watching just the first two episodes, we are sure that most audience members will get behind Miep and her efforts to be decent in a world that is punishing her for not doing the right thing at every corner.

This is really a story of heroes. We know what happens to Anne and her family by the war’s end. It is a sad tale, yet Miep’s efforts are clearly considered heroic in every shape or form. Susanna Fogel sits on the director’s chair for the first two episodes, and she and her team do an amazing job of capturing the time period. The camera movement is also fantastic, and you can feel that time and effort were put into making the show the best thing it can be. Lately, many shows have forgotten how visuals can really elevate the story.

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Thankfully, A Small Light knows it must take advantage of all the cinematic tools to tell this story. Let’s hope the final episodes are as good as these first two. There is no doubt that they will be at the moment because the episodes are not only very well directed and produced, but the actors are doing an amazing job in each episode. Someone once said that casting is fifty percent of a director’s job, and it seems like the job was well done here.

A Small Light introduces Bel Powley as Miep Gies, our protagonist. The young actress became a sensation early in her career thanks to her particular looks and raw strength as a performer. She has been taking more low-key roles recently, so it is a nice surprise to see her become the lead actress in this project. Powley creates a very beautiful character in the shape of Miep Gies, a charming, smart woman who can adapt to different situations.

Liev Schreiber, who plays the role of Otto Frank, Anne’s father, is also a standout performer. The actor has already proven to be one of the best in the business, so taking a role like this and doing such a good job is unsurprising. Both actors have amazing chemistry when performing together, which is vital because the relationship between both characters is quite important. Let’s remember that Otto is putting his and his family’s lives in Miep’s hands. That is not an easy thing to do. And you will only do it with someone you trust.

The pacing of the episodes is also quite good. In the first two episodes, we are introduced to our main characters. Their relationship is established and developed. Suddenly, we are set for the horrible and stressful things to come. Many shows nowadays think they need to deliver a quota of episodes. That is the worst decision ever because your story stops being meaningful and becomes pure fluff. A show cannot be all plot, but it cannot also be pure fluff. We want meaningful fluff, true character development, and true story moments.

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In the end. While this might be one of the last National Geographic scripted shows for a while, it may be one of the best. The production values are amazing in all departments, the pacing is fabulous, and the acting is just superb. This is the quality content we want from streaming services. There might not be a lot of money in streaming, at least not as much as people thought at first, but either way, each series should be special. With so much content on the line, there is no time to waste.

SCORE: 10/10

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