The Boy in the Striped Pajamas PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Hisham Qaddoumi   
Friday, 15 May 2009 01:22

The Boy in the Striped PajamasA Personal View

Brilliant! Just Brilliant. I cannot remember the last time I cried when I watched a movie, or a movie that really touched my heart deeply, but this one tore my heart up till I was about to “shed a tear” watching it. This is a one movie that you have to watch.

Everybody in the movie is a victim of hatred, tense and prejudice. Everybody was punished either because of participating in it, ignoring it or simply being born as a part of it. The father who blindly followed the rules, the mother who tries to ignore the facts she sees every day and most of all: the kids who were born assumed to be “enemies” just because they were born in these circumstances.

I watched a lot of movies about the “holocaust” but this one is different. All the movies I watched before talked about holocaust as a political event or a great disaster, this movie pictures the holocaust as if it is filming it from the cameras of two boys’ eyes. Watching this movie will wake the kid inside you and let you watch the world again through a kid’s eyes.

The Story

It all starts when Bruno, a typical 8 year old boy from Berlin, comes back home from school one day to find the home busy like a beehive. This is when he realizes that his father has been promoted and he is moving with the family somewhere else, in the countryside far from Berlin. Far from home, friends even school that he hated. The family moves to the house in “nowhere”. No people, no other houses and no friends to expect.

The story begins to rise hot when Bruno discovers the “farm” that he can see from his room window. Though the farm looks odd as it is not green at all like any other farm, there are no domestic animals of any type and the strangest thing: the farmers who wear striped “Pajamas” all the day. Bruno wants to play with the “farmers” kids but he feels they are strange, and his mother tells him not to play with them. That moment one of them – “Pavel” – enters their kitchen with the vegetables. Bruno notices his Pajama and tells his mother that these are the farmers he saw.

Bruno is very bored by now; he decides to build a swing asking the scary young soldier, who his annoying 12 year sister Gretel is fond of, to help him find tire and ropes for this. Bruno fells later of the swing when got confused by the horrid smell of the smoke coming from the chimneys near the farm. Pavel aids him and Bruno discovers that Pavel “practiced” as a doctor before he comes here to “peel potatoes” for his family. Days afterward Bruno decides to break the cardinal rule and go backyard, he discovered that there is a window in the garage where he got the tire and this window leads to freedom, to the woods behind the house.

Bruno goes there to run freely, he runs near to the “farm” which is surrounded by an electrified siege. The surprise fells his face when he sees a young boy sitting alone there. “Shmuel” was 8 years too, wearing one of these striped “pajamas” that has a number. Here starts the real story, the innocent friendship behind the wires. Things start to be clear to Bruno, clear in his own 8 years way. The two kids get much deeper in friendship. Bruno discovers the weird fact about grownups changing their jobs to lower level with no reason. Shmeul’s father was a watch maker before he decided to “mend boots”, Pavel was a doctor before he decided to drop all that to “peel vegetables” and wait their table and even his father decided to come from Berlin to this place that looks so less important than the one in Berlin.

Bruno is shocked one other day when his father tells him and Gretel that they will be going to another place with their mother. Bruno noticed that mother and father are not well as before, they fight every day, and his mother cries a lot and her eyes are always wet when they sit to table at any meal. This is happening for a while. He does not go now because he does not want to lose his new friend Shmuel, but what can he do? This is the point when things lead to the ultimate complex.

The Complex

Blind hatred, ultimate unthinkable revenge and absolute no mercy. This is the major complex, the following of a complete nonsense politics blinded by racism, hatred and dictatorship in what made this complex. The father blindly follows the politics, the mother blindly follows the father, the soldiers blindly follow the orders and Gretel blindly follows the young soldier she is fond of.

Bruno and Shmuel are the only ones who follow their hearts; they do not need any rules to realize they are not enemies but friends. These kids are the real victims because their parents and their surrounding people are already victims and they are the victims of these victims. Though their innocence does not allow them to feel they are victims.

The Ending

A really huge shock, this is the least you can say about the ending. There is no way that you want this end, it keeps you unsettled and would leave in a state of shock for at least few minutes after the movie ends. You might spend minutes trying to figure out what just happened? Why is all that? How anyone could never stopped that?

The ending will be left for you not just to watch but also judge. Ask yourself: do we want to have more Brunos and Shmeuls, as John Boyne the novelist asked? Are we ready to stop this from happening again? Is it okay to blame the previous generations and keep doing the same things different ways? The big question you will get at the ending of this brilliant movie.

The Making

You will feel like World War II as you have lived it. The people, how they walk, behave and look. You will even swear to god that you can smell them through the screen. Every small detail is been took care of. The thing you will also notice very much about the making is how it makes you feel like an 8 year old boy. It shows you that world through the eyes of an 8 year old boy as if wad using his eye as the filming cameras and his thoughts as the script.

I believe Mark Herman did a great job in this movie. He has turned the novel like it was written for a movie. You will find that when you compare the script with the novel. Maybe because Herman is a writer too made him really qualified to rewrite the novel, without losing the story. If you read the book before you see the movie or vice versa, you will not be disappointed. You will feel like they are total different pieces of work that have the same core. I think this is what makes the making really genius and brilliant.

Movie Info

Director: Mark Herman
Writers: John Boyne (novel), Mark Herman (screenplay)
Release Date: 14 November 2008 (USA) more
Genre: Drama | Thriller | War
Rating: Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.
Parents Guide: View content advisory for parents
Runtime: 94 min | Israel:93 min
Country: UK | USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1 more
Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
Filming Locations: Budapest, Hungary
Company: BBC Films
More on IMDb

DVD Info

Actors: Sheila Hancock, David Thewlis, David Hayman, Jim Norton, Vera Farmiga
Directors: Mark Herman
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DVD, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English
Subtitles: Spanish
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only.)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Number of discs: 1
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
DVD Release Date: March 10, 2009
Run Time: 94 minutes
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Last Updated on Saturday, 11 July 2009 22:02

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