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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS, 2008
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THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS
Movie Review
Directed by Mark Herman
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Zac Mattoon O'Brien, Domonkos Németh, Henry Kingsmill, Vera Farmiga, Cara Horgan, Amber Beattie, László Áron, David Thewlis
Review by Matthew Toffolo



SYNOPSIS:

Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.

REVIEW:

This is one of those movies that makes you think a whole lot. The German Nazi's were really stuck with their conventions and a whole lot misguided with what they thought was right and wrong. Of course history has told us that they failed and many of those people got what they deserved in the end.

And when you're a child like 8 year old Bruno is in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, you really have no sense of what's really happening and are forced to follow your parents guidance.

Bruno, like many kids his age, loves adventure and it fascinated by exploring and therefore learning new things. His imagination leads him into one of the grandest reality horrors of the 20th century and it ends up leading him down a very wrong path. All Bruno is looking for is connection of some kind. And because his father does what he does in being a higher up soldier in the Nazi army, he can't tell Bruno the exact truth about what's really happening in the camp near their home.

That lack of honesty leads Bruno to form a friendship with the boy in the striped pyjamas and a number on his front. The boy is the same age as Bruno and in a Jewish concentration camp. Through the electric fence, they form a bond and a connection. Bruno is taught be his teacher that Jewish people are scum and not even human beings. But his new friend, plus his own mother's mixed emotions about everything, tells Bruno that this might not be true.

Of course Bruno is only eight, so he isn't entirely aware of the lack of integrity in the world. And he ends of doing something that leads to me witnessing what could perhaps be the saddest endings in the history of film.

I learned a lot during this film. What makes a great film is that it's core themes and emotions are universal. So eventhough the setting is with the German Nazis during World War II, we understand what's happening inside of all of the characters because they feel similar things and react the same way as we do.

As a child, we are prone to believe what our elders tell us, without questions. Of course it's not until you grow up when you notice that a lot of what our so called mentors said is full of crap. A wise man once said to me "You don't know what you don't know until you know it."

Bruno is just a boy with his whole life ahead of him. And it's ruined because both of his parents can't tell him the entire truth and because his father is far down a dark path and has no chance to come back.

Of course the stakes of my own life aren't as nearly high as they are in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but I couldn't help but relate a whole lot to how Bruno is and what he's going through.

Parents should just tell the truth, bottom line. It's really that simple. And the first thing a child needs to learn is to question everything they are told by someone. Then they can begin to think for themselves starting at a young age.

Why can't we all just get along. It's one of the major themes of this film. Anger is an interesting emotion we all have. It causes a large domino effect and becomes a virus for mankind a lot of the time.

People (men usually) get so pent up with emotion, they don't know how to express themselves. So all of that emotion comes out eventually in a negative way. And when you have a leader who takes advantage of those emotions, then you have the Nazis.

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Because of Bruno's environment and who his father is, he kind of is doomed by association eventually. But the outcome of this film was shocking to me and the many people I sat in the theater with. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

This film teaches us to just be nice and honest. Sometimes honestly and nice can't mesh together, but honestly always turns into nice down the line. And it saves many people from a lot of future heartache.

3 1/2 stars out of 4! Terrific film.

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