7 hours ago
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Review Tuesday: 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas'
Today’s ‘Review Tuesday’. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas. The 2006 novel by Irish writer John Boyne  has sold over 5M copies . I haven’t read it. But last Friday night Sweetheart Vivienne and I watched its 2008 film adaption [3, 4]. Set during WWII, it’s the story of Bruno (an 8-year-old German lad) and Shmuel (an 8-year old Jewish inmate of a concentration camp commanded by Bruno’s father). The film follows the two boys’ growing friendship – contrasting Bruno’s naivete with Shmuel’s resigned knowingness – set against the backdrop of Bruno’s father’s inhuman call to patriotic duty and his mother’s consequent revulsion. Its ending’s simultaneously shocking and poignant. The storyline’s compelling but the screenplay doesn’t nearly do it justice. I couldn’t accept German characters speaking the King’s English, and concentration camp inmates looking rather well fed. But my biggest qualm’s the boys’ meeting place – a quiet corner of the camp perimeter, unmonitored by guards, and with scant fencing diggable beneath with a small spade. The movie’s low budget doesn’t justify its audience’s need to suspend belief. Depicting concentration camps without the requisite deprivation and desperation’s unforgivable. So in summary I can only summon up a 2-star rating for this movie. But I’m heartened that 65-70 years after the Holocaust, it continues to inspire filmmakers – even if, as in this case, the films are low budget, stylised and disappointing adaptions of truly wonderful stories. Pity.