Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

-By Swetha Amit
The title is catchy enough to induce interest in one to grab a copy of the DVD instantly. It certainly isn’t a bed time story as the film leaves a long lasting impact to an extent of rendering a sleepless night. Based on the novel by John Boyne, The boy in the striped Pyjamas is a tale of innocence and friendship interspersed with the horrors of the holocaust.

Eight year old Bruno (Asa Butterfield) finds to his dismay that his family had decided on moving from their beloved home in Berlin to the country side. Explanations seem to evade him and his questions are met with a lukewarm and a rather reluctant response. The fact he is able to comprehend is restricted to that of his Commandant father having gotten a promotion and being asked to shift his work premises. With his father busy on a new mission, mother bustling about her new home, sister Gretel on the brink of puberty, Bruno finds himself engulfed in loneliness in this desolated area. Boredom soon sets in and propels him to go on an exploratory mission at the bottom of his garden only to find his way to a barbed fence. A peculiar sight which overlooked his bedroom window had invoked his curiosity levels.

Across the wired lines he sees hope in the form of a young boy Shmuel (Jack Scanlon) of his age, wearing striped pyjamas. From there on strikes a new found friendship with the lad who happens to be a Jew of the concentration camp. And soon his loneliness begins to fade away with his frequent visits to this fenced area, quite oblivious to his family. Little does he realize that such a friendship would result in a dark spell of horrendous torture and a tragedy eventually?

The film is well directed by Mark Herman. It lingers on the mind of the viewers and evokes multiple emotions as they cruise through the 94 minutes. Heartfelt sympathies are felt towards Bruno for being kept in the dark and his miseries on having to leave his friends behind in Berlin. Few scenes are quite moving and poignant and actually make one go moist eyed.

Bruno falls off his swing bruising his knee badly and is attended to by his Jewish servant Pavel. The conversation exchanged between the two as Pavel tenderly nurses the young boy is quite touching. Especially when Bruno learns that Pavel was a doctor and innocently questions the latter’s’ reasons to peel potatoes instead.

Bruno’s pitiable innocence is exhibited when he inquires about the ‘bad smell’ from the chimney which is evaded by his father. Later when one of the latter’s soldiers remarks with casual arrogance to his mother stating “They smell worse when they born don’t they?” ; exhibits cold callousness that makes one cringe in horror.

The other instance where Bruno runs into Shmuel in his dining room as the latter is ordered to clean the glasses is yet another tender one. Bruno refuses to acknowledge Shmuel as his friend when confronted by the lieutenant as his honesty is held captive in a cage of fear. Yet it’s the turning point to Bruno’s attempt at redemption for his friend as he offers to look for Shmuel’s missing father. That which makes him muster enough courage to wear the striped pyjamas and cross barriers of the barbed wire. His innocence fails to be washed away by the pelting rain when marched into the room and stripped off his pyjamas as he states “Maybe we are here till the rain stops”.

The irony is clearly exhibited of the fact where parents having kept Bruno in the dark had eventually brought darkness into their lives inevitably. If only questions were answered with fervour, Bruno would have never stumbled upon those barbed wires to explore for the answers he was seeking curiously.

The appalling conditions of the Jews are subtly brought out here. The film carries a contrast of innocence and prejudice, friendship and hatred, torn loyalties, confusion in the mind of the protagonist. It depicts the brutal catastrophe that turned the world to what it is today making one feel the cost of anguish, millions would have encountered to have created such a history.

The film is a must watch for all for its poignant and powerful depiction.

Written for



Blogger Ayesha Parveen said...

A well-written review of a film which promises to be worth watching.

Thanks, Swetha :)

4:28 AM  
Blogger Rush said...

seems interessting..will catch it on dvd

10:44 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Thaks a lot Ayesha and Rush!!

6:41 PM  
Blogger manivannan said...

Thanks a lot for the post. Seems very poignant...need to check out. You've reviewed it very well. Excellently written!

I think this movie must be the inspiration for an Airtel Ad. Breaking barriers was the theme, I watched it long back.

Sometime back I wrote about the movie, Children of heaven (have u watched it?), I think you will enjoy the post.

Here's the link...if you're interested, check out.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Thanks Mannivannan.:-)

Yes loved the airtel ad as it conveyed a lot in a touching manner.And possible about the inspiration drawn. Do watch this movie as it leaves a lasting impact on you.

And I'm renting out Children of Heaven today going by your suggestion.:-) Will definitely read your post!!

8:59 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home