The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Review
by E. Stevens
‘A great example of an incredibly successful adaptation of a novel; it keeps the message of the book whilst altering enough things to make it work as a motion picture.’
Director: Mark Herman
Cast: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga & Jack Scanlon
Synopsis: Bruno, the son of a Nazi soldier, moves with his family from their home in Berlin to the countryside. Whilst exploring his new surroundings, Bruno befriends a Jewish boy named Shmuel who he meets across a barbed-wire fence.
Review: The story opens with the protagonist, a young boy named Bruno, playing with his friends near his home in Berlin during the Second World War. We learn that his father is a soldier who he, his mother and his sister think the world of. When his father is promoted, the family leave their home in Berlin and move to an ominous looking house in the German countryside. Bruno and his sister are lonely at first, as the only entertainment are lessons with a strict professor and a tyre swing in the drab yard, but soon Bruno begins to explore his surroundings beyond the garden. He soon befriends a boy his age, named Shmuel, who lives on what appears to be a nearby farm, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence. However, soon his parents are arguing, and his sister has become a completely different person, leading Bruno and Shmuel to hatch a daring plan to meet properly face-to-face.
This was one of the most thought-provoking and emotional films, I have ever experienced. The details that Herman includes to really make the viewer think which combined with the excellent acting and cinematography create an outstanding movie that is completely worth the praise it has received. It is also a great example of an incredibly successful adaptation of a novel; it keeps the message of the book whilst altering enough things to make it work as a motion picture.
The tone of this film perfectly encapsulates the horror of the Second World War, and combined with the innocence of a young child’s outlook on life makes the heart-breaking message of the film even more painful. From the very beginning this mood is established, with the powerful scene of Bruno and his friends running past a group of people being arrested by Nazi soldiers, completely oblivious to the horrors on their doorstep. This is one of the most memorable images that sticks in the viewer’s head from the start. Overall, although this film handled an incredibly serious topic, I would highly recommend it.
The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas is currently available on BBC iPlayer and was rated 12 by the BBFC.