Customer Review

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outside, Looking In, 21 May 2009
This review is from: The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas [DVD] (DVD)
The film focuses on a German family during World War II. They are about to leave their home in Berlin; the children's father has a promotion. We see him wearing his smart uniform. His mother seems critical of the new position and is warned that it is not wise to make her views public. However, everyone else seems extremely proud of him doing his bit to make Germany great again. Bruno (aged 8) is unsure about the move, since it means leaving his friends behind.

Things get worse after the move. Bruno's sister seems to adapt well to the new regime, but the new house feels something of a prison to Bruno who isn't allowed into the woods at the back of the house and certainly not out to 'the farm' beyond. Bruno's curiosity and longing for friendship gets the better of him. When the coast is clear, he sets on a quest to find out about 'the farm' and befriends a young boy who lives there.

As their friendship develops, Bruno becomes increasingly confused about right and wrong as he tries to reconcile the Evil Jew he is taught about by his tutor and the child Jew that he meets on the other side of the barbed wire fence. He begins to question his father's moral judgement, especially when the old doctor Jew, who now peels potatoes for his family, is beaten and his father does not intervene.

However, despite some awakening to the facts, Bruno remains relatively naive. There are plenty of clues, but Bruno is unable to fully make the leap of understanding needed. To learn the truth about the farm would destroy him, since it would reveal the awful horror of his father's job.

This film's strength is in seeing the concentration camps through a child's eyes. It takes something impossible to contemplate (remember all those shoes and glasses in Schindler's List?) and makes it easier to digest by minimising the time spent within the fences. Such a lot of the film is spent outside the camp, with only tantalising glimpses within, that a terrible desire is built up to enter and see the true terrors within.
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