The Boy in Striped Pyjamas

February 28, 2009 9:02am CST
Bruno (main character), Gretel (his sister) and mother moved out of Berlin, away from friends and grandparents, after their father, a Nazi Commandent, is promoted. The house that they move to looks like a prison, with Nazi soldiers in and out all the time. There are no other houses nearby, which means no children from Bruno to play with. He spots what he thinks is a farm from his bedroom window, but as he is forbidden from entering the back garden, he cannot go and explore it. One day, he notices a man, called Pavel, in his kitchen peeling potatoes. He is confused, as the man doesn't look like a farmer - he is wearing striped pyjamas. Curiosity eventually overcomes Bruno, after he spots a windows leading to the woods behind the house, while he is in the shed with Pavel. After playin in the woods for a while, Bruno decides to find the farm as he wants someone to play with. However, he comes up against a fence and can't go any further. It is at this point that his life changes... One the other side of the fence is a boy, a boy in striped pyjamas. Bruno and this boy, Schmuel, become friends. Bruno goes to visit him everyday, sometimes with food if he can steal some from his house. Bruno soon learns that Schmuel is Jewish. Around them, the war continues. And their friendship grows. Bruno and Gretel start getting home tutored by Herr Liszt, who completely agrees with what the Nazis are doing. He inputs this into the children's studies - and turns Gretel into a Nazi defender. However, he confuses Bruno, as he doesn't understand why Jewish people are so bad - Schmuel seems nice to him. There comes a point in the story where Bruno has to choose between his friend, or his father's beliefs - and he makes the wrong decision. This results in a beating for Schmuel. Bruno's mother has by now realised that the "farm" is actually a concentration camp for Jews, and that the smoke from the chimneys is the Nazi's burning them. She decides to move away with the children. Bruno wants to make everything better with his friend, and goes to the fence to talk to him. Schmuel tells him that his father has gone missing on the "farm". Bruno decides to dig under the fence, put on striped pyjamas and have fun. He had watched part of a very misleading movie that his father had viewed with other soldiers - which shows the Jews to be having fun. On his last day, Bruno returns to the farm with a spade, digs a hole under it, and clothes himself in striped pyjamas. They go to look for Schmuel's father in the sleeping huts. However, they are swept up in a crowd. Meanwhile, back at the house, Bruno's mother and father have realised that he is missing and that he has went through the back garden - to the concentration camp. Bruno and Schumel go along with the crowd of older men. They stay close together, scared of their unknown destination. The boys are taking into the gas chamber. Bruno's mother and father are in a race against time. They find Bruno's clothes at the fence, and just as his father reaches the gates to the camp, he realised that the gas chamber has been activated. As this occurs to him, the Cyclone B is being tipped into the gas chamber... The is one of the most amazing, and moving films I have ever seen. The viewpoint of an innocent 8 year old is a new exploration and is done fantastically in the screenplay, based on John Boyne's novel. The setting and realism of the Auschwitz concentration camp is realistic, and to be honest, quite haunting. The idea that two boys become friends, despite the prejudices and propoganda that tell them otherwise, is magical. The whole cast in this film is brilliant. David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga play Bruno's parents - adults who lie to Bruno about the concentration camp, and to each other about the happiness of their marriage. Amber Beattie plays the role of Bruno's older sister, Gretel, who turns from an innocent young girl, into a Nazi defender. But the stars of the film are definitely Asa Butterfield (Bruno) and Jack Scanlon (Schmuel). The steal the show with their naivety to the war around them. The accents of the cast were English, even though it was a German film. I understand that it is a British-made film, but even someone with a slight German accent could have made it a bit more authentic. However, I realise that this would then mean subtitles, so I think the well-pronounce English for the cast was a good idea. The main thing I found wrong about this film was the 12A rating, and for much of the film I didn't understand why it wasn't a PG. The final scene however was so harrowing that now I don't understand why it isn't at least a 15! The book is fine for children, and I know younger people need to learn about events such as this so they can get a full understanding of the Holocause, but even I'm still having nightmares about it a few months later, and I'm 21 years old!This is a truly amazing, but horrifically realistic film. I would recommend it only to those who think the can bear it. Just as a final note, at least three quarters of the audience in the cinema were still in their seats when the lights went on and the credits were rolling. The looks of shock were mirrored on everyones faces. Rating: 9/10
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