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on 22 February 2009
I never saw this film at the Cinema, but watched it on an early DVD release last week. The lady in the Video shop said it was heavy viewing, but I found the film touchingly simplistic in how it was filmed and acted - and this style did not detract at all, from the serious historical genre it depicted. Infact, it made it all the more poignant and sad. The other reviewers have detailed what the story was based around, so I wont repeat that. All I will say, is that although the ending was expected it was still shocking and upsetting. The beautiful part of this film was that it showed all too clearly, how innocent children are - before they become too privvy to their parents views, prejudices and expectations. It also showed that good people can do bad things, that they dont necessarily agree with for much the same reasons. A minority of people in power, can so control the mind set and actions of the greater majority. This film made me think, made me cry and made me reevaluate what being a parent should be about. Even though it showed the bad side of some people - it showed that most people do have good and hopeful hearts and children, inparticular are innocent souls who should be cherished and nurtured.
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After watching 15 minutes of this film I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. My genre is usually horror, I do also enjoy war movie's from any 20st century war, and this didn't seem to be fitting in too well.

However, the further into the movie I got, the more interested I became.

The movie tells a story of an 8 year old son of a Nazi Concentration Camp Commandant. It shows the war through his young eyes, whilst reminding the viewer of the true atrocities of WW2.

The boy, Bruno, befriends another 8 year old boy in a concentration camp, and the story shows their relationship develop.

There are numerous scenes in this movie which will upset the viewer, scenes of violence towards the Jewish prisoners etc Another interesting side of the movie is that it of course shows how the German families felt about the war, it shows that not all of them, including some soldiers, agreed with the Nazi regime yet had no choice.

All in all this movie gets 5 stars due to a clever storyline, and an ending that you will never forget, an ending that will leave the theater in silence, and make others cry, it certainly did when I saw it in the movie theater.

Definitely worth going to see, I shall be buying it as soon as it is released.
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on 11 August 2009
Films about the Second World War, and the events of the holocaust are by no means a rare thing . Many of them are touching and poignant, but none of them, so far as I know, have ever looked at the events throug the eyes of an 8 year old boy . 'The Boy In the Striped Pyjamas' however, based on the novel by Irish novelist John Boyne, presents the events to us from just that point of view .

Now, I read the book before seeing the film - in fact, it was adverts for the film that inspired me to read the novel- which I found funny, sad, and deeply moving. So I went into the film with some idea of what to expect - and yet the film still managed to knock me on my arse emotionally .

Bruno lives a life of relative luxury, in a big old house with his mother, father, sister, and assorted servants. His dad is a well paid SS officer, his mum a stay at home housewife, and he himself is popular, with plenty of friends .

His world is disrupted when his dad gets a promotion - suddenly Bruno has to move away from the life and the house he loves, away from his friends and his grandparents, to a new home in a strange place .

And what a strange place it is - areas of the garden are off limits, curtailing his exploring adventures, and although he can see a farm with children from his bedroom window , he isn't allowed to play with these children. He's not sure he wants to either - they seem slightly odd, wearing pyjamas all day.

What is more, soldiers keep trooping in and out of his house, closeting themselves in meetings with his father, and even one of the farmers, Pavel, turns up at the house sometimes, peeling vegetable and making deliveries, and telling grand stories about once practising as a doctor . Of course, he couldn't have been much of a doctor if he had to practice so much, Bruno thinks . Bruno becomes progressively more lonely as events wear on .

One day , Bruno manages to find a way into the 'out of bounds' area of the garden, and explores. Finding a long, high fence, he follows it, and comes face to face with one of the strange children wearing Pyjamas, Shmuel . They form a friendship, a friendship challenged by being either side of the fence, and by facts Bruno later learns from his tutor about the Jews .

Can this friendship prosper ? Will Shmuel and Bruno ever find themselves together on the same side of the fence ? And can there ever be a 'kind' Jew ?

Straight away in this film, one thing irritates me - all the actors speak with a cut glass English accent . While I realise the impracticalities of having this film in german with subtitles, it would have been nice if they could at least have either had the actors use a slight German accent, or just a less polished English accent . Honestly, these Nazis all sound like British aristocrats .

With that said, I did enjoy the film . It didn't resort to cheap tricks to shock or horrify, and the danger is more implied than directly stated . We see this through the innocent, somewhat naive eyes of a child, who imagines that the smoke from the chimneys is from incinerating rubbish, and that life on the concentration camp (for that's clearly what it is) is fun, with musical events, gardening, and the odd kickabout. Whilst Bruno has no idea of what is going on, adults viewing this will know exactly what the story is, and this film relies on that somewhat to build the atmosphere and danger . And I felt sad knowing that, with every step he took further into friendship with Shmuel, Bruno was getting closer to the awful truth of the matter.

A lot of people have criticised this film , saying that not even a child could be that ignorant - but we have to remember the wide use of Nazi propaganda images at the time . Concentration camps were presented in film reels as rather like a holiday camp - and in fact one scene illustrates this beautifully .

Bruno, played by Asa Butterfield, and Shmuel, played by Jack Scanlon, are very clearly the centre of the storyline, but there are some very interesting sub-plots within this film . For example, we see the divided loyalties of a nazi soldier whose father emigrated as a conscientious objector rather than stay in Nazi Germany, and the hypocrasy of Bruno's father punishing him when his own mother speaks out openly against the regime .

We see Bruno's older sister, who, under the influence of her tutor and the handsome Karl, becomes very firm in her hatred against the Jews, and begins to become increasingly more brainwashed by the propaganda.

One of the wonderful things about this film is that there is no one dimensional wholly evil character - there are so many angles to each character that I found myself having sympathy will all of them at various moments - even with Karl . You come to see them, not just as Nazi's, but as relatively normal people for Nazi Germany of the time - and what is shocking is that the events of the holocaust were allowed to happen by normal people - its scary that normal people can permit such horrendous atrocities to happen .

The film is quite relaxed in pace, which I feel it needs to be in order to build on the friendship forming between Bruno and Shmuel, and to adequately cover all the various sub-plots within . However, as it builds towards the very end, it speeds up, and I almost felt myself wanting to shout, 'NO, not yet!'. I knew the ending already, having read the book, and I wondered how well they would handle it - they handled it wonderfully . I cried - lots . I was deeply touched by the strength of a friendship that would go this far, and I found it incredibly hard to watch. It was sad, and deeply poignant.

Despite having a lot of child actors, I don't feel this is a film for very young children - I feel that some understanding of the events of that period is necessary for the film to make complete sense. I would definitely say it was appropriate for children of 12 upwards with a basic knowledge of the events, and for adults . The film has a rating of 12a, which I feel is about right, as some scenes are very emotionally powerful .

I would very much recommend this film - yes, it is a fictional work, but it is every bit as moving and sad as it would be if it were real . It brings the holocaust back into the limelight, and presents a small fraction of the events that went on in a simple, yet incredibly emotional way . I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in a few years time, schools were showing this as part of history lessons, and in fact, I feel this film would do very well at presenting events that must seem stale to young people today in a fresh format .

If you haven't yet watched this , please do . I'm not even going to just say I recommend it, I'm going to directly ask - Please watch this .
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on 20 October 2009
This is the first film I have ever reviewed, but this one I just had to do. To be honest I wasn't sure that I was ready to watch this DVD as seeing other Holocaust films, I know how heavy going and shattering they can be. However this film drew me in from the moment it started. Seeing the war through Bruno's eyes was very unique, I don't remember seeing another film like this.

It was interesting to realise that not all Germans knew what was happening, even if you were related to high ranking soldiers.

The story was beautifully acted out and all the cast were wonderful. As you approached the end of the film, you had this feeling that things would not end well and suddenly you just knew what was going to happen and from that moment, I started to shake. As the end was acted out I just couldn't stop sobbing, I can hardly ever remember a film that affected me so greatly.. well apart from Schindlers List.

You must watch this film, but just be ready as it will upset you deeply..
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on 11 January 2009
I really enjoy war films as I find history very interesting but I find many are too flowery and don't show the true horrors of war, particularly WWII. This film made me sob my heart out in the middle of the cinema for everyone to hear, and I still hadn't stopped when we came out of the cinema, but it was definitely worth seeing. It shows the Holacaust through a child's eyes as well as a German family and Nazi soldier's eyes and shows you that not all Germans were necessarily for Hitler's atrocious actions. I like the fact that right up until the very last moment, you still don't know how the film is really going to end.

Be warned, it's not for the easily upset, but everyone should see this film. Tragic, but brilliant.
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on 18 February 2009
As i live in Israel, we literally live with the holocaust here and quite honestly i was a bit weary of seeing another film on the subject, however after friends recommended the movie after reading the book, i took a chance and was not disappointed.

This is a beautiful movie of two small children who meet at a fence of a concentration camp.It is a story of two victims who try to understand each other, but lack the abilty because the nightmare that surrounds them is beyond their young years.

This is a movie that will move you to tears, not because of the holocaust, but because, we are looking at the holocaust through the eyes of two young children who are on opposites sides of the fence.

In conclusion, a sad, moving, but refreshing look at one of the darkest subjects in living memory.
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on 22 December 2008
This film is outstanding, it is simple, compelling and moving. I saw this at the cinema in the summer and I recommend it to everyone out there. I will be showing it to my students in the last week of term in July after they have studied the Holocaust as it makes a very complex issue easy to access for children and is an excellent film.
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on 9 March 2009
Viewed from the perspective of a small boy; the son of the Auschwitz camp commandant, the film traces the relationship between the son and a boy on the other side of the fence. Bruno the commandants son, is basically unaware of the reason for the camp and so cannot understand why he cannot play with his new friend. Alongside this relationshp there are endearing moments of dialogue which serve to underscore Bruno's youth (He calls the Fuhrer, The Fury and Auschwitz, plainly a tricky one, is rechristened Outwith). The film sensitively but irrepressibly moves towards its stunning conclusion, which, if anything is shot better than was written in the book (And of which I will say nothing here)
The film is a Must See and the book a Must Read, this pack is superb value.
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on 12 April 2009
Seen through the eyes of a Nazi commandant's son uprooted from his home in Berlin to a new house behind the 'farm.' This film is successful because of the naivety of the child and the parents deliberate attempt to cover the reality of the father's new job.

The film reaches a devastating conclusion I think this film would be suitable for children aged 12 as certificated as a good introduction to the horrors committed during the second world war.
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on 17 July 2009
Oh my goodness. This is simply the saddest, scariest, truest film I've ever seen- and as a film lover, that's quite a few.
I read the book before I watched the film, the film was very true to the book. It followed the storyline perfectly- only tiny elements were changed and nothing was left out. Brilliant.
NO SPOILERS- the story is about a little boy, Bruno, who gets moved from his house to a new one. He's not happy about it because he'll miss his friends. He's not allowed to go out of his garden, but he sneaks out anyway- he wants to be an explorer when he's older. He finds another little boy, Shmuel (pronounced Sh-mall[rhymes with Paul.])who gets to wear pyjamas all day and lives in what Bruno recognises as a farm. they get to be best friends.
The ending- again, NO SPOILERS,- is so depressingly sad and true. I've never cried at a film before but if I hadn't already read the book I know I would have, definitely. Tissues at the ready! It's just so shocking. It doesn't matter how much you prepare yourself, you'll still be amazed- in a bad way.
This is the scariest film I've ever seen because it's true- maybe not the actual story but it's based on facts. Parents will be most affected by this film. Even though it's only got a 12 rating, younger children- like my little brother- will have no idea what's going on and will get bored with it. But older children and adults of all ages will all be amazed by this fantastic film. 10/10.
- a thirteen year old girl.
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