Movie Review Written by Special Guest Columnist Carlos Holmes
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: A Poignant End That Render Speechless
The movie, based on the European best-selling novel by John Boyne, is the story of an 8-year-old son of a Nazi military commander of a concentration camp who befriends a Jewish prisoner of the same age.
Carlos Holmes is a freelance writer whose movie reviews appear from time to time in the The Dover Post. Formerly a full-time writer and later editor for the Delaware State News in the 1990s, he is currentlyMore
An atypical film is now showing at Carmike. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is the latest cinema treatment of World War II Germany, this time uniquely dealing with the dynamics of family and impact of the military and political tenors of that day on them.
The movie, based on the European best-selling novel by John Boyne, is the story of an 8-year-old son of a Nazi military commander of a concentration camp who befriends a Jewish prisoner of the same age. Most of their friendship is conducted through the electric barbed wire fence that separates them, and their initial dialogue reveals that very little has been explained to Bruno, the son (portrayed at an award-winning level by Asa Butterfield).
The movie ends by striking viewers soundly with a poignant two-by-four to the head and heart unlike any film that can be recalled fairly easily. The closest ones that come to mind are the ending riot in Spike Lee's 1989 Do the Right Thing and the well-known 9/11 end of the 2006 United 93. A very different movie from those two in countless ways, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (spelled Pyjamas in European releases) take viewers to an unthinkable ending that is accomplished relatively quickly in a unique no-win comeuppance.
Sometimes it is hard to figure the thinking of the Academy Award folks, and the real tragedy of the movie (outside of the plot) would be the omission of Vera Farmiga from the upcoming nomination ranks. She portrays the wife of the commander in heart-wrenching performance that is torn by conflicts over motherly love, Nazi and wifely loyalty, and her anger over the family's proximity to the prime feature of the holocaust. Asa Butterfield is also worthy of such award considerations as well.
Directed by Mark Herman, who also wrote the screenplay, the film is paced nicely, making it easy to grasp the difficult emotional issue that develops without having to endure any unnecessary time-consuming scenes. As monstrous as German Nazis are often depicted in film, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas reveals a humanity that is much closer to the truth than many want to admit. The Nazi Germany (on the politic majority side) was comprised of real people, some of whom were terribly conflicted by the tenor of the times and the direction that Hitler madly led the country. Moreover, they were people with families, dealing with all the issues of home, livelihood and children that others deal with worldwide.
The family dimension of the movie is one of the strongest elements of the tragically remarkable plot, and is supported by strong performances by the nuclear cast, without a weak acting link to be found. For those that are looking for the type of thought-provoking film that one has to normally drive to Philadelphia's Ritz or Wilmington's N-Theatre to see, this is truly a surprising film to find a home at Carmike Theater in the Dover Mall. It is truly not a film to be missed.
The 95-minute movie is rated PG-13. Parents may have to explain the ugliness of the Holocaust to their children.