Genres: Drama, Adaptation and War
Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.
Release Date: November 7th, 2008 (limited)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.
Distributors: Miramax Films, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International
Directed by: Mark Herman
JJ Rating: A+
Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is eight-years-old with the goal of just playing with friends. But his father (David Thewlis) has the family move because he’s been promoted in the SS. At their new home Bruno can see a “farm” and as he realizes that what he sees is not a farm he becomes good friends with Shmuel (Jack Scanlon) and ends up questioning what he was being taught and what is more important. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
It is a harrowing tale and a prism of a story. It touches on the brutal truth that Germans didn’t know what was going on in the concentration camps, that teenagers idolized the Nazis, that younger children were caught in a confused whirlpool of what is and isn’t right. It brings to light the amazing naïveté of children and how forgiving they are for the most brutal things, how much little boys want to be proud of their fathers and how powerful friendship should really be.
I skimmed some reviews for this film and saw how those that did not like it did not like it because of how light the story handled the traumatic events. I would like to point out that there are so many films about WWII that it is nice to see a film take a different point of view and a view from a child seeing another child and not seeing the hate that he was suppose to see, but only seeing a playmate that was enclosed. Seeing it through the innocence of the child makes the events that more powerful and far less one sided, yes it is more the point of view of the Germans than it is of the Jews in the concentration camp; but that’s not wrong. Not all Germans were vile and it’s good to show that there were those that were even related to the vile ones that had hearts.
There is so much greatness in this film. It’s at a slow pace and there are moments of no lines, but in those moments there are things going on that are powerful and pertain to the story at hand. The lines are not wasted, for each one holds weight and emotion; each one is like gold. I was very impressed with Asa Butterfield; very. I hope he gets an award of some sort for his fantastic job. He not only had the way to say the lines down perfectly, his facial expressions were words hidden in his wrinkled nose or shifting eyes.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is one of the best films I’ve seen this year. It’s hard to speak about it because so much goes on that I don’t want to ruin the first time experience of them. I’ve often said that friend movies are one of the best themes a movie can be about. I believe they are far better than romance. And this movie is no different in that regard. It masters that and then puts many films to shame with a single scene at the end that shows far more love and friendship than people not only see in films but in their life time.
James Horner does the music and the piano is so comforting. The light playing of the movie’s theme was better than perfect. It actually made me want the soundtrack from the first moment I heard it. Mark Herman’s directing was as flawless as one could possibly be with a film. The British accents were ignored and the acting paid attention to and I have to say that should be attributed to him, because it is the director that can make it about the story and not about how the actor’s accent doesn’t match the character’s location.
I would state that people should go out and see this, but one has to know that it’s not fast paced, but it’s at a perfect dramatic pace. And if you enjoy good movies that will take you for an emotional ride then this one will be right up your ally. I want this movie when it comes out on DVD, there’s no question. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a powerful human triumph in friendship that transcended prejudice with a single handhold moment.