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Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The (2008)

Release Date:
Friday, November 7, 2008

MPAA Rating:
PG-13

Rating Reason:
For some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust

Genre:
Drama

Starring:
David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga, Rupert Friend, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scalon

Written By:
Mark Herman

Director:
Mark Herman

Official Site:

Synopsis:
"The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" is a fictional story that offers a unique perspective on how prejudice, hatred and violence affect innocent people, particularly children, during wartime.

Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The (2008) | Review

Through A Child's Eyes
Jacob Sahms

Content Image
This movie will terrify you, sadden you, and force you to consider your own boundaries and barriers. I know that the first time I saw it, I was ripped apart by the friendship between two boys, one a German and one a Jew, in the midst of the Holocaust. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas was based on John Boyne's New York Times bestselling fictional account of Bruno (Asa Butterfield), the son of a Nazi officer (David Thewlis of Harry Potter fame), who meets a little boy on the other side of the fence, Shmuel (Jack Scanlon). Of course, this transcends what others expected, what we know of adult human nature, and highlights the power of childhood friendships and the simple worldview of those who have not yet lost innocence.

Watching it a second time, now in high definition Blu-ray, I'm moved by the commentary, by the insight of the actors, directors, and writers who make the movie what it is. I'm struck by the understandings that the actors come to: this is not "just" a movie but rather the opportunity to tell a story that needs told, to make people understand how the problem got to becoming a mass murder, and how we need to walk through our lives with our eyes wide open. This is especially clear in Vera Farmiga's portrayal of the officer's wife, and of the obvious rejection of the same vision in the life of the officer.

The Blu-ray's inclusion of the featurette "Friendship Beyond The Fence" makes for a deeper take on the movie; obviously, the story of it has a weight of its own, but recognizing the way that those who got involved were actually moved themselves shows the power of the story, even before it becomes good art. Deleted scenes and the team-up of Mark Herman and author John Boyne (that's just not fair!) will make fans of the story see it again with a new vision, a new insight.

Outside of the main actors, David Hayman (Trial & Retribution) deserves special praise for his role as the lackey/doctor Pavel, and his not-quite-broken humanity brings dignity in the midst of the craziness, the madness which drove the Holocaust. It's the humanity of these folks who prove not to be breakable, and the love which we're able to see through the eyes of the children, that makes us see the goodness of people, the theos behind them which allows them to survive in the most sick, the most violent of situations. We're able to see that in the midst of this great sadness, hope still rises.

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