Happy Saturday everyone! Reviews for several movies are on their way over the weekend (possibly including Piranha3D, Vampires Suck, The Switch, Eat Pray Love, and Lottery Ticket), but first things first. Every month a newsletter goes out to the subscribers of this website with info and contests. Last month, I gave all of the subscribers a password to access a poll asking them to vote on which movie I needed to review. Click here to see the choices and the results of the poll. Out of all the movies to vote on, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas won. Be on the lookout for more subscriber selections and contests. If you’d like to, subscribe for yourself! The button is in the right hand margin of this page!
So, without further ado, here is TheScarletSp1der’s review. (that rhymed :))
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is set in the middle of WWII Germany and comes at the issues of said war a lot differently than any other movie that I have ever seen. We follow a young German boy named Bruno who is the 8-year old son of a Nazi commandant of a concentration camp. The movie paints a picture of the war through the innocent eyes and musings of this 8-year old boy who, against all odds and all the rules, befriends a Jewish boy who lives inside of the camp. I had a certain expectation of this film when I pressed “play”, but by the time I pressed “stop” I realized that my expectations did not quite live up to the actual reality of what would be in store as I watched this movie.
Have you ever seen Life is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni? This movie reminded of it at times in how it portrays the innocence of children even during times such as WWII. We see the young boy, Bruno, just being a boy. All he wants to do is to play and have someone to do that with. His sister is too caught up in the Hitler’s Youth program to be bothered with playing, so he goes and finds a boy in striped pajamas on the other side of an electrical fence. Throughout the entire movie, Bruno has NO idea what the fence/camp is actually for, and also has no idea that his father is the one in control of the camp. The only thing Bruno sees is a boy who has cool pajamas and wants to meet and play everyday. Through the two boys, the message of universal acceptance and humanity is shared as they both learn that they are of different heritages, but ignore that as they forge a friendship and enjoy themselves.
One thing that did bother me about this movie is that it is in English. I know, Subtitles aren’t always cool, but in this type of movie I think it would have strengthened it. Everyone is German in the movie, but everyone speaks English. Perhaps the director did so in order to endear the characters to the audience more (subtitles do seem to detach you from the characters at times), but for more sense of authenticity I would have preferred to read subtitles instead of have everyone speaking “American.” The history graduate in me screams for details like that. 🙂
The director also did a great job in showing the strained relationships the war caused on German families, similar to how Cold Mountain gives you a “behind-the-scenes” look at The South during the Civil War. It was interesting to see the level of humanity and relatability that the director gives to the family of the commandant. The ironic and poetic justice, if you will, that comes towards the end was not what I was expecting, and may leave you with a wet eye or two. I’m not too certain if the director’s goal was to promote the idea that Nazi soldiers were human with feelings and emotions just like us. While this is true, I felt a little weird with the de-villianization of the Nazis in this movie. That quickly reverses itself though at the end as it mixes both the villany and humanity together.
This movie is definitely an emotional one. But, I cannot think of a WWII holocaust movie that isn’t. Schindler’s List, The Hiding Place, The Diary of Anne Frank, Life is Beautiful, etc. These are not the kind of movies that you watch over and over again like Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove! Would I recommend it? Perhaps. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did, but the director did a fantastic job of getting the audience to love the relationships, the innocence, and the cares of the characters in the movie….and he yanks it all away from your heart at the end. Ultimately, I didn’t like how it left me feeling, but I believe that was the director’s intent. There should be nothing comfortable about watching a movie that deals with the Holocaust. Definitely not for everyone, but worth seeing (once, for me).
Thanks to all the subscribers who voted. Look for more “Subscriber’s Only Polls” in the future!
Thanks for reading!
Enjoy if you wish…or don’t enjoy! Happy watching!
–The Sp1der’s Score: 7 out of 10 stars “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas”