Boy in the Striped Pajamas, The

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +3

Content: +1/2

David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon, and Rupert Friend. Drama. Written by John Boyne and Mark Herman. Directed by Mark Herman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on the best-selling book by author John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a fictional story that offers a unique perspective on how prejudice, hatred and violence affect innocent people, particularly children, during wartime. Through the lens of an eight-year-old boy largely shielded from the reality of World War II, we witness a forbidden friendship that forms between Bruno, the son of a Nazi commandant, and Schmuel, a Jewish boy held captive in a concentration camp. Though the two are separated physically by a barbed wire fence, their lives become inescapably intertwined as friends.

PREVIEW REVIEW: I guess Ive seen a hundred films dealing with the Holocaust or death camp life. Most of them have been successful, poignant and horrifying. Each time, we leave the theater stupefied by the reality that a country once allowed a portion of its society to be rounded up for the ultimate purpose of obliteration. Whats more, this genre of film begs the questions: could this happen again, could it happen in America, could it happen to Christians this time? Our first reaction might be no. Its inconceivable. But never underestimate evil. For its not until years later that the true horrors of depravity are recognized by the entirety of a society.

There, end of lesson, students--now, on to the film. I suspect my solution to the films one drawback will be met with raised eyebrow, but here goes: the roles of Germans and Polish characters are all cast with English actors and would have been more effectively portrayed by German thespians with added subtitles.

I know, no one wants to read subtitles. Im with you on that. And I admit, casting that way would immediately make this an art house film, but it also would have aided the poignancy of theme with a sense of reality.

English accents aside, this is a powerful movie, having much to say about innocence in the midst of malevolence. Well conceived and brilliantly photographed (the lighting and color hue adding to the underlining ugliness of the phlegmatic scripts subject), the acting, even by the kids, is engaging, and the directing emotionally restrained yet stealthily expressive.

Looking for a delightful caprice? This isnt it. But The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas is sophisticated, nuanced and heart tugging.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: I caught only a couple of minor expletives, nothing harsh.

Profanity: A Nazi soldier profanes Christs name a couple of times.

Violence: A soldier brutalizes a helpless older Jewish man; later we see that the soldier has hit a small boy, a mark over his eye; smoke rises from the oven chimneys at the camp; a bunch of men and children are herded into a shower, whereupon gas pellets are dropped. We hear screams from the other side of the door. Blood: A bloodied mark over the eye of a child.

Sex: None

Nudity: The prisoners are forced to strip, however we do not see anything but naked shoulders.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Wine with dinner.

Other: Though the material is handled with discretion, the subject matter, which includes the death of two main characters is unsuitable for children.

Running Time: 93 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.