Movie Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

In Nazi Germany around 1940 in Berlin, Bruno is an eight-year-old boy who is proud of his father, who happens to be a soldier. That was a status symbol in Germany at the beginning of the war. When his father is transferred to “the country” for a more responsible position, the boy loses all his friends. He is bored to death.

The country villa where they live seems to him more like a prison than a home. Soon he wonders about the “farmers” around the villa and why they are all wearing striped pajamas. When he asks his parents questions and their answers start not making sense to him, he begins to steal away from the house to explore. Soon he comes to an electric fence and finds another boy of eight that he befriends.

And tragic events begin to unfold.

During the terrible dark ages of 1940 to 1945 the German regime rotted up Europe like a cancer. By now enough time has passed that just about all people in charge then do no longer live now. My father was born in 1936 and he remembers the war and its aftermath as a young child, so he was innocent. He is now 74 years old, and he remembers the atrocities that he himself has witnessed, the hardships his family went through with this father sent off to the war, and his mother having to flee as a refugee with 5 children in tow, on foot, at the end of the war. He was one of the lucky ones. He was German, not one of the ostracized, enslaved and murdered minorities. He got to live.

There can’t be enough movies, books and stories about what happened in Germany during WWII, so we will always remember.

Or will we?

Rating:  ****

Ebert does a particularly good job reviewing this movie, I think.

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