The Holocaust was one of the most appalling crimes of all time. The stories that came out of it leave a sickening hole in your chest, wondering how humans could do such horrendous things to each other. But no matter how ghastly the truth is, the world needs to know about it. This is what makes films based on Holocaust so important. By now, so many films have been made around that topic, that it seems that we have looked at this event from every possible angle- from a Jew’s perspective, from a German’s perspective, from the perspective of a man and that of a woman. All of these movies have introduced us to the horrors of those times in one way or another. But, as the contradiction in the nature of humanity dictates, it is during the worst of times that the best of us emerge. While one of us is destroying the world, there is another who is trying to save it. In most cases, these films become a motif of survival, courage, kindness and compassion. It is the lack of these issues as the central theme that makes ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ different than its counterparts.
Is ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ Based on True Story?
Based on the novel of the same name by Irish author John Boyne, ‘The Boy in Striped Pajamas’ tells the story of two boys whose lives couldn’t have been more different than each other. Bruno is the son of a Commandant in Nazi Germany. Living in Berlin, Bruno is completely immersed in the travails of his childhood, unaware and uncaring of the things happening in his country. His only woe is that his father has been promoted and while that means a good thing for his father who is rising up the hierarchy, it also means that they will have to move to some other place and that Bruno will have to leave behind all his friends. Unable to have any say in the matter, Bruno travels with his family to an isolated place that he immediately comes to hate. He is alone, there is no school and there are no neighbours. This means no friends, and that means a life of complete and utter boredom for a boy who used to run around the city with his friends.
It’s not that Bruno isn’t trying to be happy. He finds out ways to keep himself occupied, but there is only so much that you can do in a place where no one else lives. So, when Bruno meets Shmuel, his happiness knows no bounds. There is a problem, though. Shmuel lives in a farm, and that farm is surrounded by an electrified wire. This means that Bruno can’t go in, and his new friend can’t come out to play. Also, Bruno has been specifically told by his parents to stay away from the farm. However, nothing can keep Bruno from seeing his friend now. But he has a lot of questions about the whys and the why not’s. Over time, he comes to understand some things. Still, most answers escape his grasp. The one thing that remains constant is Bruno’s friendship with Shmuel.
One of the first things that took me by surprise was the fact that before this film, I hadn’t witnessed a story about the Holocaust from the point of view of a child. No films had been made before that would focus on the lives, or present a story from the point of view of the children in Nazi Germany. And there was a very good reason for it. Most of the films made on this topic take inspiration from real-life stories. It is the stories told by the survivors, of how they escaped the clutches of the evil that had destroyed everything and everyone around them.