Reviewed by: Angela Bowman
About murder in the Bible
Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Does God feel our pain? Answer
The Origin of bad—How did bad things come about? Answer
What kind of world would you create? Answer
Persecuted church—Why and how should we pray for suffering Christians? Answer
|Featuring:||László Áron, Amber Beattie, Asa Butterfield, Attila Egyed, Vera Farmiga, Béla Fesztbaum, Rupert Friend, Sheila Hancock, Gábor Harsai, David Hayman, Zsuzsa Holl, Cara Horgan, Richard Johnson, Henry Kingsmill, Domonkos Meinberg, Domonkos Németh, Jim Norton, Zac Mattoon O'Brien, Jack Scanlon, Gábor Szebényi, David Thewlis, Iván Verebély|
|Producer:||Miramax Films, Heyday Films, BBC Films, Rosie Alison, Mark Herman, David Heyman, Péter Miskolczi, Mary Richards, Gábor Váradi|
“Lines may divide us, but hope will unite us.”
This film is based on a novel by John Boyne.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a beautiful story that provides a unique view of the holocaust as told from the perspective of the eight year old son of a Nazi officer. When the father (David Thewlis) is promoted, the family moves from Berlin to an isolated home in the country. The first thing young Bruno (played by Asa Butterfield) notices from his new bedroom window is a nearby “farm” with odd people who all wear pajamas. He becomes interested in finding out more about these strange people, however once his mother (Vera Farmiga) realizes that the “farm” he is referring to is actually the Jewish prison camp that his father is running, she forbids Bruno from venturing out that way. The window to his room is boarded up, and his play area becomes very restricted.
In addition to this restriction, and having no playmates, Bruno’s father brings in a tutor for Bruno and his sister Gretel whose focus is to indoctrinate the children in Nazism. Gretel (Amber Beattie) becomes a quick convert, likely due to her age and her interest in one of the soldiers (Lieutenant Kotler, played by Rupert Friend) in her new household. However, Bruno, who enjoys adventure and finds this new subject matter uninteresting, is at first oblivious and innocent to the teachings and of what is really going on around him.
Eventually his boredom, combined with his spirit of exploration, overtake him, and he ventures out into the forbidden area to play, stumbling upon the “farm” and a Jewish boy his own age who is being held prisoner there. Developing relationships with both this boy and a Jewish household servant (Pavel, played by David Hayman), Bruno finally starts to take notice of the world around him and the teachings of his tutor.
At the same time, his sister is becoming obsessed with Nazism, and his mother, finally realizing the extent of the horror that is taking place in the prison camps, is at odds with her husband over the issue. Bruno must decide whether to be loyal to his father and country or to this rejected group of people, in particular Shmuel, and through his journey, a difficult lesson is learned by all.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a beautiful, touching and powerfully profound film. To me, it really speaks, along with the historical significance and remembrance of the holocaust, of the value of human life, of the necessity of valuing human life, and this is something that is and will always be relevant to current society. I could not help but to reflect on our current issues of abortion and assisted suicide, of what happens when God is removed from society, and when children are indoctrinated with secular humanist theology. I see a frightening parallel in our society, especially in the area of abortion. The fact that hospitals, doctors and nurses may be forced by the government to perform these murders is appalling and immediately brings to mind the infamous Nuremberg Trials, of men who were simply following the orders of their government, yet were later held accountable to their moral obligation to stand against it despite of and over the law of the government (Acts 5:29, obeying God rather than man).
There were also many other valuable truths and lessons. Matthew 18:3 says “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Bruno’s innocence protected him from the harsh reality of the world around him, and this allowed him to see the truth, to realize right from wrong by being able to reach out to a people who were untouchable.
His sister on the other hand, while still young, was older than Bruno and more open to influence by the world, causing her to reject opposition to her beliefs without question, bringing to mind another scripture, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” I think this is a classic example of why it is so important to know the Bible and to study and read it regularly. Because, whether the influence is coming from our home, society or government, if we are rooted in the Word of God, worldviews that conflict with Christianity will be more apparent to us. Regardless, it is our duty to test all things from a Biblical perspective, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Technically speaking, the film’s quality was excellent. Vera Farmiga’s performance as Bruno’s mother especially stood out, proving her to be a superb actress, handling the emotion and depth of her character flawlessly.
While I did notice the Dove approval, I was surprised that the sister, Gretel, is shown at the beginning praying in Jesus’ Name (also reflective of how much she changed during the course of the film).
The actual physical violence was almost nonexistent, beatings and murders were off-screen, although you did sometimes see the actions (a man kicking another man who isn’t seen) and the effects (a swollen and bruised eye), as well as Jews being forced out of their homes and into trucks and later gas chambers and the gas being dropped on them (a group of shirtless men is shown crowded into the chamber). There is also smoke shown, comments on the smell of the smoke, and it is realized that it is the burning of bodies. Viewers who have studied the holocaust will know this beforehand, however a young viewer may find out with the characters, and at the very least will most likely have questions. So even though the violence shown is minimal, the abominable actions are still shown to a degree and felt in a very real and poignant way (anyone who says you need to show graphic violence to get your point across also needs to see this film) and therefore is inappropriate for young viewers.
I would advise parents who are unsure to preview the film first and then discern whether or not your child is ready for the subject matter. That being said, if your child is mature enough, I would certainly encourage you to take him or her and to make sure to set aside time afterwards to talk about the lessons that can be learned.
This film certainly left a strong impression on me, and I feel more aware and more gratitude because of it; it was more than a movie, it was truly an experience. I don’t know that I would say that I enjoyed it, but I will say that I loved it, and that is something you can’t fully understand unless you see it for yourself, and I hope you do.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.