I saw a sneak of a film coming to theaters soon and when it comes to a theater near you, you simply must see it.
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a Holocaust story, but one told from a completely different perspective than I have ever seen before. It takes place from the perspective of a young boy, 8 year old Bruno, who is the son of Concentration Camp commander.
This boy slowly learns bits and pieces about what is really happening at the "farm" that is near his family's home but never really comes to understand the whole truth. With no one around except his older sister and some gruff Nazi guards, the Bruno eventually makes friends with one of the Jewish boys, also 8 years old, who is being held at the camp. This boy, Schmuel, is as endearing and emotional a character as you will see on screen this year.
The movie was slow, especially in the first half, but builds tremendously in the final 30 minutes. I was a bit bothered that our view of the concentration camp was so limited. At times I was aching for something more to happen but then I remembered that we were experiencing this through the eyes of a boy who would never be able to get close to the real horror of what was going on. It is a compelling perspective, that of a young German child, and one has really been unexplored on film in the past.
There is some fine acting, particularly from the young actors who must carry the picture. David Thewlis (best known as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies) is the only real recognizable actor here which is actually good because it makes the characters all the more real. The woman who plays Bruno's mother is especially good too.
I am not sure I want to say more than to just urge people to see it. But, I will say this-- about halfway through the picture I wondered how there could possibly be a satisfying ending. Well, to the great credit of the writer (it is based on a book), they came up with an ending that is as pitch-perfect as I have ever seen in film. I am serious, this is as powerful and moving an ending as you will experience in a theater. Rest assured, it is a film that will leave you wanting to talk about it after it is done.
One final word of warning-- make no mistake, this is a Holocaust film even if it does not explore the most gruesome images of that time period like Schindler's List did. It is not suitable for children even though the main characters are children. Maybe a sophisticated and educated 12 or 13 year old could handle it but I think it is better suited for no one under about 15. I do think it is extremely educational and thought provoking and I look forward to showing it to my kids in a few years.
See it. Trust me. Truly an unforgettable film. I suspect you will hear it mentioned a bit when award season rolls around.
-Jason "you can see the trailer here" Evans
Giving this thread a bump because this movie opened this weekend in about a dozen cities across the country. I am hoping some of ya'll will get to see it. I really want to have a discussion about it but folks need to see it first because spoiling it would be bad.
-Jason "check it out if it is in your area" Evans
I saw it last night, based mostly on your review/recommendation and the trailer, which I had seen before. It is indeed a remarkable and powerful film. I agree that the first 2/3 of the movie is relatively slow, but powerful nonetheless in seeing the 8 year old boy's perspective and his increasing exposure and understanding (albeit limited) of what was going on at the camp and what his father was responsible for. The family dynamics and conflict were also well done I thought.
I did not see the end coming. It is certainly unique and moving, without saying more. And very emotional. My girlfriend was still crying more than an hour after the movie ended. Although I think that was a combination of the emotion of the movie's ending and the subject matter in general.
Personally, I did not walk out of the movie feeling quite the same emotional response as I did when I first saw Life is Beautiful, and therefore didn't feel like I enjoyed it as much. However, I think The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is an incredible movie and would strongly recommend it to anyone.
Thanks for the excellent review and recommendation.
Singler is IRON
I STILL GOT IT! -- Ryan Kelly, March 2, 2013
I can see some folks feeling that the ending was a cheap trick designed just to pull at our emotions and to create a shock. Still, it moves you and in a very powerful way.
The film expands into new markets this coming week-- though it is still in very limited release. It will probably only come to your town if there is a large Jewish population around as I suspect that is who they are marketing this thing toward.
--Jason "hope other folks see it-- in a week or so perhaps we will have a spoiler discussion of the movie" Evans
I read the book back in February, and loved it. I didn't know there was a movie! Sadly, it's not playing anywhere around here that I can find. Hopefully they'll expand the release.
Saw a preview for this last week when we saw "Happy Go Lucky" (it's nice having a fancy pants theater nearby). I wasn't overwhelmed by the trailer; it looked seriously depressing and I'm not sure I can stomach another Holocaust film. I was hoping to be swayed, but I'm having trouble reconciling your review with RT.com and Metacritic.
What do you think those critics missed?
I don't think it's seriously depressing. However, any movie that centers on the Holocaust is going to bring out unpleasant emotions and make you feel bad to a certain extent - I think the extent will vary based on the individual. I believe it is powerfully dramatic and a compelling story. Also, it's the kind of movie that makes you think and want to talk about it when you leave. To me those are the best kinds of movies - the ones that can elicit strong emotional responses and make you think about them afterwards.
I read many of the reviews on RT. While it is 63% fresh amond all critics, it is only 50% among top critics. I can't explain that, perhaps the subject matter and the perspective from a child was unappealing. Perhaps they saw the ending as a forced, far-fetched attempt to elicit an emotional response. The review in salon.com is a good example. But to me, Rex Reed's review is right on:
At the movies, as in life, there is nothing more harrowing to think about or painful to observe than children in peril. At a time when a lot of people will not go near a film about the Holocaust, it’s quite brave to make a new one (there are three coming out before Christmas). The Boy in the Striped Pajamas shows an aspect of the greatest atrocity in the history of civilization through the eyes of children, which makes it doubly risky. See it at all costs. It is both wonderful and devastating.
I think you just have to look at it as a movie-going experience and not objectively analyze the wisdom or need to tackle the subject matter from this angle. To me it is a unique angle, one worthy of a story - and this story, which includes a young boy trying to come to grips with what his father is doing, even though he doesn't comprehend it fully - is particularly compelling.
Last edited by mr. synellinden; 11-10-2008 at 03:39 PM. Reason: added link
Singler is IRON
I STILL GOT IT! -- Ryan Kelly, March 2, 2013