The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas
Theboyposter.jpg
UK theatrical release poster
Directed by Mark Herman
Produced by David Heyman
Screenplay by Mark Herman
Based on The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
by John Boyne
Starring
Music by James Horner
Cinematography Benoît Delhomme
Edited by Michael Ellis
Production
companies
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date
  • 12 September 2008 (2008-09-12)
Running time
94 minutes
Country
  • United Kingdom[1]
  • United States[1]
Language English
Budget $12.5 million[2]
Box office $44.1 million[3]

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (released as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas in the United States) is a 2008 British historical drama film set in World War II, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by John Boyne.[4] Directed by Mark Herman, produced by BBC Films and Heyday Films, and distributed by Miramax, the film stars Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Asa Butterfield, and Jack Scanlon. It was released on 12 September 2008 in the United Kingdom.

The Holocaust drama relates the horror of a World War II Nazi extermination camp through the eyes of two 8-year-old boys; Bruno (Asa Butterfield), the son of the camp's Nazi commandant, and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a Jewish inmate. The film was criticised for what some felt is a distorted view of the Auschwitz experience.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

The film opens with the quote, "Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows," by John Betjeman. A young boy named Bruno lives with his family in Berlin, in Nazi Germany during the period of the Holocaust. He learns that his father Ralf has been promoted, due to which their family, including Bruno's mother Elsa and sister Gretel, relocate to the countryside. Bruno hates his new home as there is no one to play with and very little to explore. After commenting that he has spotted people working on what he thinks is a farm in the distance (but, unbeknownst to the innocent Bruno, is actually a concentration camp), he is also forbidden from playing in the back garden.

Bruno and Gretel get a private tutor, Herr Liszt, who pushes an agenda of antisemitism and nationalist propaganda. As a result, Gretel becomes extremely fanatical in her support for the Third Reich, to the point of covering her bedroom wall with Nazi propaganda posters and portraits of Adolf Hitler. Bruno is confused as the Jews he has seen, in particular the family's Jewish servant Pavel, do not resemble the caricatures in Liszt's teachings.

One day, Bruno disobeys his parents and sneaks off into the woods, eventually arriving at an electric barbed wire fence surrounding a camp. He befriends a boy his own age named Shmuel. The pair's lack of knowledge on the true nature of the camp is revealed: Bruno thinks that the striped uniforms that Shmuel, Pavel, and the other prisoners wear are pyjamas and Shmuel believes his grandparents died from an illness during their journey to the camp. Bruno starts meeting Shmuel regularly, sneaking him food and playing board games with him. He eventually learns that Shmuel is a Jew and was brought to the camp with his father and mother.

Prisoner's clothing from Sachsenhausen concentration camp

One day, Elsa discovers the reality of Ralf's assignment after Lieutenant Kurt Kotler lets slip that the black smoke coming from the camp's chimneys is due to the burning corpses of Jews. She confronts Ralf, disgusted and heartbroken. At dinner that night, Kotler admits that his father had left his family and moved to Switzerland. Upon hearing this, Ralf tells Kotler that he should have informed the authorities of his father's disagreement with the current political regime as it was his duty. The embarrassed Kotler then becomes infuriated with Pavel for accidentally spilling a glass of wine and violently beats him. The next morning the maid, Maria, is seen scrubbing the blood stains.

Later that day, Bruno sees Shmuel working in his home. Shmuel is there to clean wine glasses because they needed someone with small hands to do it. Bruno offers him some cake and willingly Shmuel accepts it. Unfortunately, Kotler happens to walk into the room where Bruno and Shmuel are socialising. Kotler is furious and yells at Shmuel for talking to Bruno. In the midst of his scolding, Kotler notices Shmuel chewing the food Bruno gave him. When Kotler asks Shmuel where he got the food, he says Bruno offered the cake, but Bruno, fearful of Kotler, denies this. Believing Bruno, Kotler tells Shmuel that they will have a "little chat" later. Distraught, Bruno goes to apologise to Shmuel, but finds him gone. Every day, Bruno returns to the same spot by the camp but does not see Shmuel. Eventually, Shmuel reappears behind the fence, sporting a black eye. Bruno apologises and Shmuel forgives him, renewing the friendship.

After the funeral of his grandmother who was killed in Berlin by an enemy bombing, Ralf tells Bruno and Gretel that Elsa, their mother, suggests that they go to live with a relative because it is not safe there. In truth, Elsa suggests this because she does not want her children living with their murderous father. Shmuel has problems of his own; his father has gone missing after those with whom he participated in a march did not return to the camp. Bruno decides to redeem himself by helping Shmuel find his father. The next day, Bruno, who is due to leave that afternoon, dons a striped prisoners' outfit and a cap to cover his unshaven head, and digs under the fence to join Shmuel in the search. Bruno soon discovers the true nature of the camp after seeing the many sick and weak-looking Jews, much to his shock. While searching, the boys are taken on a march with other inmates by Sonderkommandos.

At the house, Gretel and Elsa discover Bruno's disappearance. After they discover the open window he went through, Elsa bursts into Ralf's meeting to alert him that Bruno is missing. Ralf and his men mount a search. Led by a dog tracking Bruno's scent they find his discarded clothing outside the fence. Elsa and Gretel are following along behind. They enter the camp, looking for him; Bruno, Shmuel and the other inmates are stopped inside a changing room and are told to remove their clothes for a "shower". They are packed into a gas chamber, where Bruno and Shmuel hold each other's hands. A Schutzstaffel soldier pours some Zyklon B pellets inside, and the prisoners start panicking, yelling and banging on the metal door. When Ralf realises that a gassing is taking place, he cries out his son's name, and Elsa and Gretel fall to their knees in despair and mourn Bruno. The film ends by showing the closed door of the now-silent gas chamber, indicating that all prisoners, including Bruno and Shmuel, are dead.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas has a 63% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 135 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A touching and haunting family film that deals with the Holocaust in an arresting and unusual manner, and packs a brutal final punch of a twist."[5] On Metacritic, the film has a normalized score of 55 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6]

James Christopher, of The Times, referred to the film as "a hugely affecting film. Important, too."[7] Manohla Dargis, of The New York Times said the film "trivialized, glossed over, kitsched up, commercially exploited and hijacked [the Holocaust] for a tragedy about a Nazi family."[8]

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert said the film is not a reconstruction of Germany during the war, but is "about a value system that survives like a virus."[9]

Accolades[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Results
2008 British Independent Film[10] Best Actress Vera Farmiga Nominated
Best Director Mark Herman Won
Most Promising Newcomer Asa Butterfield Nominated
2009 Premio Goya Best European Film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Nominated
Irish Film and Television Awards[11] Best International Film Nominated
Young Artist Awards[12] Best Leading Performance (International Feature Film) Asa Butterfield & Jack Scanlon Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)". British Film Institute. 30 December 2016. 
  2. ^ "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  4. ^ Vilkomerson, Sara (31 March 2009). "On Demand This Week: Lost Boys". The New York Observer. Archived from the original on 7 December 2009. Retrieved 4 July 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  6. ^ "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 12, 2016. 
  7. ^ Christopher, James (11 September 2008). "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Review". The Times. Archived from the original on 30 August 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  8. ^ Dargis, Manohla (7 November 2008). "Horror Through a Child's Eyes". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 August 2009. 
  9. ^ Ebert, Roger (5 November 2008). "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013. 
  10. ^ "BIFA 2008 Nominations". British Independent Film Awards. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2016. 
  11. ^ "2009 Winners—Film Categories". The Irish Film & Television Academy. 
  12. ^ "2009 Nominations & Recipients". Young Artist Awards. 

External links[edit]