The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

I have been wanting to see this movie for a while and was delighted to get the chance yesterday (on a cold and rainy Sydney day) to curl up on the couch and enjoy this.

I must admit before getting into the review, that my knowledge on the Holocaust is not very good. I have studied about the World Wars and about the Nazi rule but as the years have gone by, I have forgotten the details. (It doesn’t help that we only did one year of history on this…the rest was on Indian history every single year!) I haven’t watched some of the other movies about the Holocaust such as Schindler’s List or even Life is Beautiful.

‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’ looks at the Holocaust through the innocent eyes of an 8 year old. Bruno (played by Asa Butterfield) and his family move from their home due to his father’s work commitments. His father is a soldier and in Bruno’s eyes, is a hero. However, Bruno does not know the reality of his father’s work. He meets Shmuel who is in a concentration camp and who is Jewish when out exploring the woods one day. The two befriend one another despite the barbed fence creating a barrier. Bruno still does not understand why it is that Shmuel is in a camp and thinks of it as some sort of fun camp in his innocent mind.

The characters are amazing. Bruno’s mother is not happy that they live close to the concentration camp and is horrified to find that they burn the Jews alive (with some form of acid, I think). She produces an amazing performance that is heartfelt. Bruno’s 12 year old sister is easily brainwashed by their  tutor and one of the soldiers into believing that what is happening in the country is absolutely right. Bruno’s father of course, knows he is doing the right thing for their fatherland. And Bruno…he is amazing. This kid exudes innocence and you cannot help but fall in love with him. He is outstanding. As an adult you can see the bleeding obvious..the terrors…the injustice. But you can also see Bruno’s point of view…in how he idolises his father, why he lies, why he wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his friend Shmuel, and how he questions whether there are nice Jews. He is a delight.

The ending of the movie is shocking and leaves you sitting stunned (And in tears in my case).

It may not be an accurate portrayal of the Holocaust (according to some critics that I read) but it works. It manages to get you to see the injustice and the horror of it all.

And in the end, that’s what it is about.

To get you to understand. And feel.

Highly recommended movie…and I’m surprised it didn’t make it big in the awards side of things. 5 stars.

Until next time,


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  • Vicki
    4 October 2009 at 11:33 pm

    I’ve recently discovered you and wanted to award you with this award! I love your blog!

    Cheers, Vicki

  • Matt Parker
    5 October 2009 at 12:11 am

    An amazing, unforgettable masterpiece!That is what “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is.

    The tragic ending is powerful and did water my eyes.

    The part where Bruno says “We aren’t meant to be friends, we are meant to be enemies”really touched me, I dunno why.

  • Aditya
    5 October 2009 at 7:01 am

    I was blissfully ignorant of this movie until your review made me sit up and notice. I am going to catch this movie this weekend. Thanks a lot 🙂

  • Nu
    5 October 2009 at 7:21 am

    Will watch it ! 🙂

  • The Ketchup Girl
    5 October 2009 at 8:50 am

    I read this book about a year back. I couldn’t pick up another one for a long long time. And when the movie released I was in two minds…I finally picked the DVD. Its a fantastic adaptation and bruno looks so much like the way I had imagined. if u can read the book too….yep, i wept too. you can;t but help it, no?

  • MilesPerHour
    5 October 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Hmmm, do I watch this or not? I sure love a godd movie but as sensitive as I can be I’m not sure an unhappy ending would do me well.

    ie; Million Dollar Baby

  • Titaxy
    5 October 2009 at 1:42 pm

    have you seen Life is Beautiful, PB? It is on the war subject too, the first hour or so might not be too interesting, but the movie itself is amazing…It’s an italian movie originally, but I think you can get a dubbed Eng version…worth the watch.

    And no, I haven’t seen this one, but will do 🙂

  • Psych Babbler
    6 October 2009 at 10:40 am

    @ Vicki: Thank you!!! 🙂

    @ Matt: There were plenty of touching scenes in the movie, eh? Would love to read the book as well

    @ Aditya: Do check it out and let us know how you find it…

    @ Nu: Do…and let us know!

    @ KG: I heard about the book but never got a chance to read it. Usually prefer reading the books before the movies…and tend to give the movies a miss bcoz they end up disappointing me. But it’s good to know that this one was close to the book. Will look into it…

    @ MPH: Hmm…if you don’t like unhappy endings, don’t watch it. I like them because to me, they are not Hollywood. Some of them can trigger my moods and get me depressed though…but that’s a risk I take!

    @ Titaxy: No I haven’t…will look into it.That’s what I meant initially in the post but I said ‘A beautiful life’ *Blush* Confused this and A Beautiful Mind.

  • strike
    26 October 2009 at 4:44 am

    Good review…..I like ur blog…Striped Pajamas movie is based on a bestselling novel by Irish writer John Boyne.This movie is very interesting. I loved this movie.i watch The Boy In The Striped Pajamas movie from this website…

  • Hitesh Rawat
    19 April 2010 at 2:44 pm

    aaahhh…’s a wonderful though sad movie……..

    i didn’t knew about this era…….obviusly these kind of incidents were never mentioned in the history books but also i didn’t even heard about this in other media….like newspaper……but then i saw this movie…………they killed jews just cause of their beliefs………. insane…..i read Anne Frank after watching this movie……….

    this is one of my fav movies………….

  • Psych Babbler
    21 April 2010 at 9:43 am

    Amazing, wasn’t it?

  • Hitesh Rawat
    21 April 2010 at 9:46 am

    yea, it was.
    though it didn’t had any of the big stars but the story was so touching……..i got to know abt this movie from……………and everybody ther have left a praising reviews for this movie……………
    even i left one small one from me…… 🙂
    you should too……you can put this one here ther….

  • Psych Babbler
    21 April 2010 at 9:53 am

    Forgot to mention before…Welcome to my blog! =) I watched it because I have been into the non-Hollywood movies over the last few years. I prefer the alternative/small budget movies with gripping stories. And this movie was shown in limited release at my favourite alternative movie cinema and while I didn’t get a chance to see it then, I got the DVD. I thought the actors were great…possibly because they weren’t any of the big stars. Made it feel more real that way…

  • Hitesh Rawat
    21 April 2010 at 10:06 am

    i have seen the actor playing the father in this movie in a couple of other movies also. i think, if you have seen Harry potter, u may remember him from ther……

    i’m a movie freak… watching movies…….language doesn’t matter to me that much….if it’s good i watch it……though for those movies….i have to stuggle at some video library but it’s always a pleasure to watch them…….

    Recently saw….Shutter Island

  • Psych Babbler
    23 April 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Oh yeah, I remember him…he was Lupin I think. Shutter Island was amazing too…great twist…