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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas


Year: 2008 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Mark Herman 
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis and Cara Horgan.  
An image from The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

“Why do you wear pyjamas all day?”

“The soldiers, they took all our clothes away…”

“The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” is a harrowing and haunting tale of an innocent childhood friendship spoiled by actions they cannot understand. “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” details the life of Bruno (Asa Butterfield) and his family as they are relocated so that their father, a German soldier (David Thewlis), can fulfil his duty to his country. After wandering off, Bruno comes to a fence and discovers a boy sat on the other side. After striking up a conversation, the two become firm friends, yet divided always by the fence. As Bruno gets more and more curious as to what is going on, he is told that the fence is the border to a work camp and those inside are “the enemy”.

A film such as this, with such a tricky and sensitive subject matter is always difficult to make. However, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas” successfully tackles the Holocaust in a new and moving way, by using the perspective of a child, who is expertly and maturely played by Asa Butterfield. The horror of the Holocaust is made disturbingly clear when contrasted with the innocence and lack of knowledge or experience Bruno has.

Bruno’s father, played by David Thewlis, is extraordinary in this role. He is genuine and passionate and presents the Nazi views in a brave way unlike anyone before him. He does not go unchallenged however, and argues with his wife (Vera Farmiga) regularly on the nature of his position.

Overall this is a powerful, sensitive and moving film; it is a true, emotional experience and one not to be missed. This film is Oscar-worthy material if I ever did see a film deserving the honour.

Rachael Pilson-Wood

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Screenings of this film:

2008/2009 Spring Term (35mm)