Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I rented this movie a few days ago. It's a sad, fictional tale set in Nazi Germany during WWII. It's depressing for its poignant depiction of the horror of the Holocaust as seen through the innocent eyes of 8-year old Bruno, whose father, it turns out, is the commandant of a concentration camp - presumably Auschwitz.

Bruno has no idea what's going on inside the camp, or even that it is a concentration camp. His parents lead him to believe it's a farm. All he can see from his bedroom window are smoke stacks and a barbed wire fence, behind which people at the "farm" are wearing clothes that look like striped pajamas. Bruno's parents forbid him to go beyond the courtyard of their house. He and his older sister Gretel are left to deal with their loneliness any way they can. Gretel falls in lust with one of the Nazi security guards, while Bruno secretly ventures out to investigate the "farm." That's where he meets the boy in the striped pajamas - Shmuel, a Jewish boy confined inside the concentration camp.

Bruno and Shmuel strike up a friendship of sorts, and slowly but surely Bruno comes to understand that this is no farm next to their house. However, not until the end of the movie does the truth break through Bruno's innocence with obscene power. I won't give away what happens.

See this movie. While it is about the Holocaust, it's not at all like Schindler's List, Life Is Beautiful, and so on. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is more subtle, less gruesome. But in a way, it brings the Holocaust closer to home better than the more graphic films. As you step into the home of this affluent German family, you see how Darwinian theory captured the imagination of the Nazis and led them inexorably to the tragedy we call the Holocaust.

1 comment:

Caspar said...

I saw this movie to. Even though this could have never happened in real life, it was an engaging, very moving story with a perspective that brought home the evilness and insanity of godless, racist and evolutionary beliefs.