Unlikely Buddy Flick Makes Light of the Holocaust
When Life Is Beautiful won several Academy Awards in 1999, some wondered whether that Holocaust comedy by Roberto Benigni would open the door for other filmmakers to make light of the tragedy. Well, it took a decade, but it seems that revisionist characterizations of that shameful chapter of human history are in full swing.
For example, take The Reader which not only was recently nominated for Best Picture, but landed a Best Actress Oscar for Kate Winslet. That film was essentially a very sympathetic portrait of a member of the SS. Similarly, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is a Holocaust denial drama which suggests that the wife (Vera Farmiga) and children of the commander (David Thewlis) of Auschwitz were somehow blissfully unaware of the ethnic cleansing going on inside the concentration camp.
Based on the 2006 best seller of the same name by John Boyne, the movie revolves around the very unlikely friendship struck between 8 year-old Hitler youth Bruno (Asa Butterfield) and Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), a kid his own age who just happens to be interned on the other side of a barbed wire fence and who wears the striped clothing everyone ordinarily associates with prisoners.
Yet, we’re supposed to believe that naive Bruno can’t figure out what the deal is, and that he would become buddies with a Jew and even slip inside Auschwitz through a hole in the fence to play. But anyone familiar with Mein Kampf knows that the Fuhrer had been calling for the extermination of Jews for years before he rose to power, and that Hitler was subsequently able to slaughter 6,000,000 only with the help and approval of the German masses.
So, what are the odds that the man running a concentration camp would fail to indoctrinate his own son in his hateful philosophy? I’d say zero. And why do the all the Nazis here have British accents? How confusing is that?
An unintentionally-comical cross of Hogan’s Heroes and Springtime for Hitler!
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for mature themes involving the Holocaust.
Running time: 94 minutes
Studio: Miramax Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted scenes, feature commentary by the director and the author, and a featurette titled “Friendship beyond the Fence.”
To see a trailer for The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,