One Of The Saddest Movies I've Ever Watched


Today I watched The Boy In The Striped Pajamas with my 12-year-old and 16-year-old aunt and uncle.

Image from wikipedia

I don't regret watching this, but I do regret watching this with such high expectations that everything will turn out okay in the end.

Because it didn't. This is one of the most heart-breaking movies I have ever watched in my 15 years of existence.

The film is all about the forbidden friendship during the Holocaust between a German boy named Bruno and a Jewish child named Shmuel.

When Bruno's family transferred from Berlin to the countryside, the lonely 8-year-old boy found himself awfully bored without his friends. He spent the first few days looking out onto a "farm" near their new home, craving for adventure and the chance to explore the place. One day he got a chance and sneaked out of their house, heading to the "farm". There he met a head-shaven young boy by the name of Shmuel. The two children get along together, with only one thing between them: the electric fence that surrounds the camp. 

Bruno invites the boy in the "striped pajamas" to their home, to which Shmuel answers that he cannot go out because of the fence. The German boy then asks the other what he did to be locked inside the "farm" and Shmuel replies...

One of the most heart-breaking scenes in this movie. :(
Bruno visits Shmuel almost every day, even bringing him food at times. Then one day he sees Shmuel inside their house and he excitedly gives him some food. Lieutenant Kotler, one of his father's men arrives in time and, seeing Shmuel eating, thinks that the Jewish boy stole food from the family. He angrily questions the boy and Shmuel answers that it was Bruno, his friend, who gave him the food. But Bruno, scared that Kotler might punish him, denies this and his relation to Shmuel.

Kotler then urges Bruno outside the room and tells the other boy that they will have a "little chat about what happens to rats who steal" Shmuel disappears for a few days, and on his next appearance, it is shown that he had been badly beaten.

Bruno apologizes to the boy, and because Shmuel had a good heart, he forgives him, allowing them to be friends again. They were happy for a while, until certain events caused Bruno's father Ralf, a high ranking officer, to arrange another transfer for his family because he believed that the place is not suitable for children.

Shmuel sadly takes the news, but Bruno makes one last promise. Earlier, Shmuel shared that his father had gone missing after work, and Bruno promises that he will not let him down again by looking for the boy's father. He convinces Shmuel to let him sneak inside the "farm" and lend him striped pajamas to wear.

The next day, everything goes as planned. Little did young Bruno know that the place he thought of as a "farm" was actually a Nazi concentration camp. And it just so happened that they were included in the line of men that were going to the "showers" which the two boys assumed to be a bath.

Back in their home, the the ladies finally notice the young boy's disappearance. His mother, Elsa, tells the father about their missing son. They rush to find him and were aghast when they realized that he had sneaked inside the concentration camp. Ralf runs inside, shouting for his son. The other officers are already looking for the boy at this time, but it was too late. They were already being led into the "showers" -- gas chambers, to be killed.

Inside the chamber, along with dozens of naked men, Shmuel and Bruno hold each others' hands, and it is implied that they never let go even as they die.

When Ralf and his men arrive at the empty cabins, he realizes that they had gassed his son to death and was grief-stricken.

Elsa hears her husband cry their son's name in mourning, and she starts sobbing, kneels down on the ground while hugging her son's clothes as the rain continues to pour.

The last scene shows the entrance to the now-silent gas chamber, along with all the "striped pajamas" they all wore before their deaths.


One of the reasons why I found this extremely sad is the fact that all of them are victims. Every single one of the characters are just in a "no-choice" situation, all of them are acting that way to survive.

Elsa (The Mother) - The actress who had this role is one of my favorites. ^_^ She was the one in Orphan. Anyway, she was a good mother, and a good person. However she had no choice. She blindly followed her husband in the beginning of the film, believing that he was just doing everything for them.

Ralf (The Father) - I don't know who I pity more, Bruno or him. But nevertheless, I feel so sad for him. I sense that he was a good papa, but the complications of the war, and his own job too, were getting in the way. Too bad he only realized what kind of inhuman acts they were doing in the camp when his son had already died. (Btw, was this guy Remus Lupin? He looks likes him)

Gretel (The Sister) - Ehh, I don't understand this gal. Well, she was obviously a kind-hearted older sister, but she was becoming too engrossed with serving "Fatherland". She also believed all the lies their teacher taught them. Also, I didn't like it when she scrapped all her beautiful dolls, believing that they are only for little children. Gretel tried too hard to become mature and lady-like. It's also obvious that she's got the hots for Lieutenant Kotler.

Kotler - I pity him too. Near the end of the film he was sent to the front lines. In a way, it was like he was sentenced to death. Even though he was quite a horrid mad... especially when under pressure, I still feel sorry for him.

Shmuel - A child that deserved to be outside that electric fence, exploring with Bruno and eating cakes together. Shmuel was exposed to the "facts of life" even in his young years, but despite that he was still innocent to the other threats in their lives as Jews.

The saddest thing about this movie? Bruno's innocence. He died not knowing about so many things. He died without even realizing that he was in a concentration camp. He died thinking, truly believing that they were just going for a bath. He died... in a very horrific way, and to think that he wasn't even meant to die.

If it's any consolation though, at least he died holding his true friend's hand. And he didn't break his promise. He didn't let Shmuel down. 

I pity all of them. This movie has made me cry. And it has made me think.

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas was based on true events. The concentration camps, the gas chambers, the Zyklon B used to kill the people, all of it is true. If you research about that particular chemical, you will see that doesn't cause a painless death. Victims' lungs burn and make them choke before they suffocate and finally die. Thousands, if not millions, have died that way back in the war.

If you want a nice, light-hearted, children's movie that will make you smile, then this is not for you. Yes, it will make you smile when you realize how simple life is meant to be lived, but you will certainly feel a deep sadness in the film. However if you want a movie that will open your eyes to the simplicity of life and make you remember to always let people know how important they are to our lives before it's too late, then this is the movie for you. 

And like I said before, tear-jerking and terrifyingly realistic, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas will make you cry, and it will make you think.

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