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,