While a full time freelancer and blogger, I am also a movie addict. My passion started more than 20 years ago, when my father would recommend me good movies to watch and not let me see only what a teenager would be interested in. I’ve seen some great movies due to his extensive work to make me a cultivated movie goer, not just someone who would gladly consume any crap movie Hollywood releases.
I was in high-school when I saw Schindler’s List and other similar movies, not too easy to watch or comprehend by the regular movie goer. The Holocaust for me has always been just “history” since, fortunately, neither my family or any other close people to us had to suffer in those times. Of course, like any regular person, I am shocked and saddened by those events and how innocent people died for nothing in the end.
Have seen Sophie’s Choice too, The Pianist and other movies telling “the story” from one side of the war. It was now the first time I’d see a movie that presented those sinister years from a totally different perspective, a German family moving to live near an extermination camp, because the father was an officer and had to go there.
Bruno is 8 years old, living with his mother, father and older sister Gretel in a huge house in Berlin. His life changes when the entire family has to move “in the country” so that his father can work now, as he was promoted to “kommandant”. The father is an SS officer and his new duties are related to an extermination camp near the home they are now living in.
Gretel falls in love with a young soldier and has no troubles embracing any anti-jews opinions, while Bruno is just not yet convinced. The small boy is amazed to see how the old man who is working as a “maid” in the house does know how to fix his bruised knee and to find out that ragged old person used to be a successful doctor. He has no clue about his father’s actions and does believe the “camp” near their house is actually a farm.
An important moment comes when Bruno meets a same age kid behind the “farm’s” fence. Although he’s been slowly taught that Jews are “evil”, for Bruno the entire idea of having as an enemy a nice kid like Shmuel, seems preposterous. Instead of trying to stay away from the stripped pajama buy, Bruno is actually spending more and more time with his new friend, realizing that just the fact they were born in different sides of the war, doesn’t mean they cannot be friends. It’s the same amazing idea I was able to find in Empire of the Sun, another movie I hold in huge esteem.
Bruno’s family do a great job into hiding the horrors of the extermination camp from him, but all these efforts give a shocking result. I won’t spoil the movie for you, but the end is at least as good as the entire movie.
While met with controversy, I do believe the movie (based on John Boyne’s novel) succeeds in telling a wonderful story. A story about friendship defying all the rules, about humanity and innocence, even in one of the darkest hours of our existence as humans. It is an amazing movie and I do hope you’ve already watched it. If not, please do so.