Cheltenham
The Cheltonian > Articles

Film Review

Robyn Morrison reviews The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a haunting story about childhood innocence during World War II

Set in Germany during World War II, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is about Bruno, an eight-year-old boy, who is the son of a Nazi Officer.

Based on John Boyne's novel, the story is set through the innocent eyes of a child and follows Bruno as his family moves to a new home close to the concentration camp governed by his father.

Alone, without the friends he has left behind, Bruno tries to occupy himself by acting out his ambition to be an explorer, often sneaking outside the grounds of his home and wandering out into the woodlands to find out more about the people who he believes work at the ‘farm’ nearby.

Throughout the film, Bruno tries to understand his situation, confused as to why the people who work at the farm wear striped pyjamas and act strangely, too innocent to understand the War or that the ‘farm workers’ are in fact Jews, working and dying in a concentration camp.

Hiding his daily ventures from his parents and the guards that surround his home, Bruno strikes up an unlikely friendship with Shmuel, a Jewish boy of the same age, who spends most days hiding in the corner of the yard at the camp. The boys build up a friendship across the camp fence, until a turn of events sees them both on the same side with devastating consequences.

With a cast of mostly unknown actors, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is convincing in its attempt to show a realistic and touching portrayal of the Holocaust.

Told through the eyes of a child, in a classic and old-fashioned style, this family film teaches important moral lessons about the price paid during war.

Due to the adult themes it is more suitable for older children, as the shocking ending is sure to bring a tear to the eyes of even the toughest audience.