I seriously hate it when people ask, “It’s just a movie! Get over it!” Or when they say, “Do something productive instead of watching movies!” Have you even tried to even wonder what pains these writers and directors go through before they present award winning movies in front of you people? It’s easy to say “Oh, that movie was shit, and it didn’t deserve the Oscar”! What do you even know?!
Think about all the research, painstakingly deciding on the cast, the screenplay, the script writing, the music selection, the costumes, the tiniest little details that these guys pay attention to. I seriously respect all of it, down to a movie’s smallest aspect and feature. It is heart wrenching and emotionally satisfying when you get engrossed in the characters of different people, their stories, their lives, their emotions. All in one and a half hours. They teach you, educate you, touch the strings of your heart and move you in the deepest ways possible. Such a movie is this one.
Every time after I finish watching a good movie, I ponder over it, form these opinions; decide to write about it but always end up not doing that at all. But I just had to write about this one. This movie, (given to me by one of my favourite people in the world) shook me to my core and opened my eyes, wide. ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’, directed by Mark Herman, is more than just a movie. It’s the face of innocence, timidly peeping out behind a wall of hatred and inhumanity.
It’s the story of two little kids; but then it’s not. It’s the story of companionship and childhood; but then it’s not. It’s a tale (based on the book by John Boyne) of an eight year old boy Bruno; the son of a Nazi officer who is shattered when they move from his hometown to an alien place. Lonely and bored, he wanders off in search of adventure and comes across a little boy sitting in blue and white striped pyjamas behind an electric fence. And then what ensues is the strangest friendship that ever existed between two kids. They talk, they share, they laugh, they play; all the time with the fence acting as a permanent barrier between them, oblivious to all the horrors and monstrosity that surround them. Bruno doesn’t know that his new best friend Schmuel, is the inmate of a German concentration camp.
When Bruno goes inside the camp himself to help find Schmuel’s father because he was ‘lost’, does he see what it is actually like inside. Starvation, diseases, dehumanization, death, hopelessness, torture, pain, and of course, the gas chambers. When I studied World War II in school and read about the Germans and Hitler and the concentration camps, I merely mugged up the number of deaths like it was just that. A number. It’s when you see something like this that you realize how disgustingly brutal and sickening it really used to be. People, naked, unaware and helpless; burnt and killed and roasted in a chamber like animals. Worse than animals. Makes you shudder, and makes you feel ashamed to be a part of the human race for it is capable of such carnage.
And yet the movie is essentially about the warmth and purity of the time when you are kids. So naïve. So guiltless. Despite of all the blatant display of the hideousness, it is beautiful. Bruno was like a flower that tries its best to stay on the surface of the water, before being drowned by all the filth and muck around it. The ending ripped me apart and left me red-nosed and sniffing. It is the most depressing, eye-watering and lip-quivering ending I’ve ever seen. In fact, I was so touched I read the book as well. And they have done full justice to it. Do yourself a favour and watch this movie. Please. It is going to be some experience. Watch it and tell me it didn’t make your heart stop for a second in the end, I dare you.
P.S. And if it doesn’t, what’s wrong with you?! Made of stone, are we?!!