The Holocaust through a child’s eyes

The Holocaust through a child’s eyes

Ashley Goetz

âÄúThe Boy in the Striped PyjamasâÄù DIRECTED BY: Mark Herman STARRING: David Thewlis, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon RATED: PG-13 SHOWING: Area theaters There is no typical âÄúhollywood endingâÄù in âÄúThe Boy in the Striped Pyjamas,âÄù an adaptation of a young adult novel written by John Boyne . Of course, with such weighty material as the Holocaust, we canâÄôt expect any kind of tying up of loose ends. Eight-year-old Bruno, the son of a Nazi commandant in the throes of World War II, discovers what heâÄôs told is a âÄúfarmâÄù near his new country home is a locale the viewer comes to realize is actually an extermination camp set up in effort to âÄúcontrolâÄù Jews. One day, young Bruno nears the edge of the camp and strikes up a friendship over checkers with a little boy on the other side of the fence, this one wearing the âÄúpyjamasâÄù of the title. âÄúThe Boy in the Striped PyjamasâÄù raises a complex dilemma: Is it ethical to attempt to âÄúhumanizeâÄù Nazi soldiers and create empathy for them through film? This question is explored through little BrunoâÄôs conversations and interactions with his father, played by âÄúHarry PotterâÄôsâÄù own Professor Lupin, David Thewlis. It canâÄôt be easy for an actor to portray such a monster, but his performance unearths genuine emotions behind BrunoâÄôs carefully regimented father. It also complicates the tangle of emotions when children, the most innocent beings of all, are taught by adults to hate, like the Hitler Youth of WWII and the Phelps clan of today. Within BrunoâÄôs family lays a deep-seated hatred of the Jewish populace, and when the young boy refuses to submit to the close-minded ideals of his family, he becomes absolutely beloved by the audience. The friendship between the two little boys is the perfect device for heartstring-tugging, especially when Bruno decides to don a pair of those âÄúpyjamasâÄù and venture into the other side of the barbed-wire fence to help the imprisoned boy find his missing father. Though this is no âÄúLife is Beautiful âÄù-type of movie that leaves you heartbroken for weeks, it is not for the weak of heart. Jack Scanlon, the boy who plays the Jewish prisoner Shmuel , is hauntingly pale and gaunt, while Asa Butterfield as Bruno is strikingly robust. The difference between the two boys is startling and effective when presenting their different lots in life. This may be contrived, using the Holocaust to make the audience cry as we know that something ominous is going to occur. But when it does, regardless, the Kleenexes get soaked.