[Review] The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008)

Dir: Mark Herman
Starring: Asa Butterfield, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was written by John Boyne and published in 2006. It is the story of a naive young boy, Bruno, who moves to a place called Out-With (which turns out to be Austchwitz) with his family. His father is a high ranking SS officer who has been posted to the camp from Berlin.

I added The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas to my LOVEFiLM list because, while I have not read the book, I knew all about it. I was not disappointed.

Released in 2008 and directed by Mark Herman (Brassed Off, Little Voice), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a fantastic film. While ‘enjoyed’ isn’t exactly the right word, the film certainly stikes a chord.

I am, of course, talking about the film as a movie lover; I am not a historian and so will not discuss it as a historical piece of work. I’m sure there are inaccuracies but in this post I am commenting on the strength of the direction, acting and overall quality.

Now that get out clause is out the way, I stand by my previous statement: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a fantastic film. Asa Butterfield puts on a strong performance as Bruno, who is blissfully ignorant as to why his new friend, Shmuel, is wearing striped pyjamas and is not allowed to leave the ‘farm’.

Child actors are always a bit hit-or-miss but Asa – and Jack Scanlon who plays Shmuel – is spot on. Naturally, being only about 10-years-old during filming, Asa exudes childlike innocence.  This purity comes across very well on screen. Bruno is simply a child who likes exploring and having friends – finding Shmuel, sitting on the ground on the other side of the fence, he thinks he has found a new one.

David Thewlis portrays both the SS officer and father sides of his character very well while Vera Farmiga, who slowly loses her emotional stability when she realises her husband has lied to her, is very strong, too. Their, plus Bruno and Shmuel’s, British accents are a bit bizarre, though.

Overall, Herman has done a great job in creating a compelling and poignant film. However, be warned: when the film reaches its final scenes, prepare for a rather unsettling conclusion.

★★★★

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One thought on “[Review] The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”

  1. I agree, an amazing film. I personally have seen it several times and never get tired of it. Another goody is ‘life is beautiful’ by Roberto Benigni.

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