Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pajamas Repeating

For me, at least, not many movies can move me in a way where I sit there in abject shock, my hand over my mouth, not really believing what I just witnessed. It's true I have not seen some of the movies that could do this, like Amistad and Schindler's List. I know the last especially, would horrify me, move me for sure, but would just sicken me, that this kind of things has happened in our past, etc. I saw real footage in my 10th grade history class, and a member of my own church was asked to come in and speak, as he was one of the first US soldiers into one of the concentration camps to free the Jews. And this class really affected me, it was the one time history captured me, really made me want to know all the facts, why this happened, what really happened in the camps. And it also sickened me. The main reason I am afraid to see Schindler's List, as I think it would make me sob, and I am not sure I could get over it. Because it is Steven Spielberg, and he can make you believe in an alien wanting to go home, so what he could do with real facts and evidence, must just be staggering.

But when I saw trailers for Boy In The Striped Pajamas, something about it really captured my interest. So I knew, I really wanted to see this friendship between this German boy, son of a Nazi General, and this Jewish boy, stuck in a concentration camp. They soon realized that they shouldn't be friends, but they were anyway. They liked each other. They were bonded by a friendship that was quite strong.

So I sat down, after having finally seen Rachel Getting Married (another movie that was full of drama....don't need to see it again either...ever), and turned this movie on. And yeah, this time I will probably spoil the movie, so if you don't want it spoiled, don't read on.

I found it fascinating how Bruno, the 8 year old boy, knew nothing of what really was going on. From a distance, he could see what he thought was a farm with people who wore pajamas all day. He saw children and hoped to find friends. When his mother finally realized who he wanted to become friends with, she told her son it was not a farm, and that those people could not be his friends. His mother, herself, kept herself shielded. She did not want to know exactly what her husband did. When Parvel, a concentration worker who was allowed to bring in vegetables and do kitchen work, fixed Bruno up after he fell off his swing, she couldn't look at him as she finally said Thank you. Bruno was innocently rude when he questioned Parvel saying he was a doctor. Parvel, sweet old man that he was...said he gave up his practice to help here. He knew that Bruno, was an innocent who understood only the world he was told about, was shown. Bruno managed to get away and explore one day and came upon a huge fence that "the farm" was in. He met a boy his age and they talked, but then a warning bell rang and his friend ran off. He began to visit and bring food along.

But as Bruno and his older sister were tutored, and he began to be taught that Jews were evil, this began to confuse him. His 8 year old friend Schmuel did not seem evil. Schmuel showed up at his home one day and Bruno gave him cakes to eat since he was sent to polish all the crystal having such tiny hands. But when one of his fathers soldiers entered and screamed at him for stealing, Schmuel said Bruno gave him the food because they were friends, but Bruno said it was a lie out of fear of the soldier.

Bruno showed up at their fence spot day after day, but no Schmuel. Eventually he was there and Bruno saw what had been done to him and was truly apologetic and said he would never lie again about being friends and they would never be apart again.

His mother found out, finally, what was being DONE to the Jews in the camp. As she avoided thinking that her husband was a part of torturing these people, she had no idea that mass murders were taking place, and that the odd smell that the furnaces were producing was human remains. She was horrified and began fighting with her husband. And he wanted to know what soldier told her. At dinner that night, the soldier, trying to ease the tension, told Bruno history had been his favorite subject which displeased his father, a Literature teacher. Bruno's father wanted to know where his father was. The soldier realized he had backed himself into a corner, his father had fled to Switzerland when the war started and by not having told on him, he could be punished. When Parvel dropped a plate, he was taken into the other room by the angry soldier and beaten to death. Though Bruno had no idea of the to death, he liked Parvel. And then the sldier was shipped to the front lines, which disgusted the General's wife even more and she began to act out.

This little boy began to worry if his father was a good man. He was, his sister insisted. And when a large group of Nazi Leaders showed up and watched a "film" with his father, Bruno peeked and saw this (fake obviously but was an actual film used in the day to make people think the camps were good places) movie about how the Jews had cafes and pottery projects and played games. So his faith in his father was restored. He asked Schmuel if his own father was a good man and he said yes of course. And Bruno knew it was true.

Berlin was bombed and Bruno's grandmother had been killed. She had been ashamed of her son, while her husband was proud. She never visited because of her disgust in what he was doing. At the funeral, there was a note from Hitler placed on her coffin. The generals wife knew how she felt, but hubby said his father wanted it there. But knowing her mother-in-law she started forward, only to have her husband grab her hand in a vise and she was defeated. Once back to their new home, the fighting got more and more violent, with Bruno going to his sisters room for comfort. Finally, their father questioned the two children if they liked it there. His older sister who had once loved it (even only 12, she loved that soldier and because he was a Nazi soldier she became an avid Hitler fan and when her father sent him away...she began to think again) aid she did not like it there. Bruno said he liked it (he had a friend who he did't want to leave), but the father told them their mother didn't want them raised in a place like this so they were leaving, and Bruno was silenced when he said he didn't want to leave. They would leave tommorrow afternoon. Bruno ran to tell Schmuel, who had news of his own. His dad had gone off on a new work group and had been missing since. Bruno realized he could dig a hole under the fence and go in. Schmuel suggested he go out, but Bruno said that was stupid, he would go in and help find Schmuel's father. Schmuel said he could get him some "pajamas" and they would cover Bruno's hair with a cap so he would blend in. They had their plan.

The next day Bruno convinced his mother, who was directing what things were going with them, to let him go swing one last time. He made his way to Schmuel and dropped his clothes by the fence, and put on the clothes his friend had snuck to him. He used the shovel he had bought and slipped under the fence. They went to Schmuel's hut to check first. As they walked Bruno asked where the cafes were, as he began to see what this place was really liked and seemed scared. Schmuel told him not to be stupid. As they were in the massive hut, soldiers came and forced them out, Schmuel figured they were making them march again. They were forced to walk, with Bruno and Schmuel not letting the other out of their sites. They were in a bunker and told to take their clothes off. They were assured it was for a shower.

Meanwhile Mom noticed Bruno was gone. She and her daughter ran to look for him, finding the back gate open, where Bruno was to never go, and looked in the shed, but as they began to return to the house, his sister spotted a sandwich on the floor and his mother saw the open window. They told General Jerk (sorry) and he and his men ran through the woods. Mother and daughter soon followed after them. The soldiers arrived at the fence first, where the father saw his son's clothes and the small hole dug under the fence. He began running, followed by his soldiers screaming his son's name.

Bruno, Schmuel and all the others were forced into a small room, all naked, and together they both reached out for the others hand and clasped them tightly together. Bruno's father entered the gates with all him men fanning out calling for Bruno. The two boys looked up as a light illuminated them in the dark room and saw a soldier pour something into the room and close the opening. Bruno's mother and sister arrived at the gate and found the clothes, and the rain started. His mother saw the whole, looked at her sons clothes and melted to the ground screaming his name. His father found the emptied hut, and you could see him realize where his son must be, as he raced there he saw that the soldier on the roof was putting away the chemicals that were used to gas the Jews. And he stood there, staring into nothingness, while you could hear the screams of the mother in the distance. The last thing you see is the room with all the clothes hung on hooks, as if ready to be put on after a shower, and then you see that metal door...and it fades to black. This is why my hand was over my mouth. The horror of it all, but in this instance the image of those 2 naked 8 year olds holding hands as they died together, both so innocent, both seeing the other as an equal, and not understanding why this was even going on...it just...I don't even know the words to use. It was powerful, painful, shocking, sad, sickening. And this story is really from Bruno's point of view, so his death is really tragic, but it was all of them. And it made me so angry, because of his fathers choices, him being all, NO, this is for the good of our country(yeah because murder is always the answer, it never is!!!) and I stand by it....his own son suffered the fate he inflicted on so many others. So many other innocents, just like his son.

I sit here and am just re-saddened by history. What the Nazi's did to the Jews was disgusting and unforgivable. I am one who believes Hitler will not get to be forgiven, that there is a dark place in hell for that man, a man who convinced Germany they were superior, yet was not German! And I am 1/4 German, but I hope I can say in all honesty, that if I were there during that time period, I would be just as disgusted, as I know MANY Germans were. Everyone says that history repeats itself, but why do we let that happen? Everyone talks about the concentration camps and what was done to the Jewish people with disgust, hating that it has to be part of humanities past. Yet many of the same mistakes are made over and over. And if the whole world believes what happened back then was unforgivably wrong, WHY are we going near that stuff again? It IS a good thing I never wanted to be a soldier, I would rather turn the gunon myself, than to kill innocent people. I would rather tell God, I couldn't hurt them, so I made it so I couldn't, than to look him in the eyes and tell him, yes I murdered your children, and they did nothing wrong. I know the church's view on war, you do as your country or what not needs,etc. A soldier won't be punished for having killed in war. But when I say killed in war, I am talking about the round people from a village up and kill them. No, unforgiveable. You are defending yourself against an enemy soldier, of course you are defending your country and God will hold nothing against that. I am sure he loathes the death, but this is all a test, and I hate that the human race seems to fail so much. See, this is why I say not many movies can move me like this. This one was like a punch in the gut, it made me so upset, so sad mostly.

I wish I could rewind to Schmuel saying, why don't I go out, hit Bruno upside the head for saying that is stupid, and seeing the two boys run away, ALIVE. Because part of me thinks, the mother would have hid Schmuel. She was so distraught over what she now knew, she had been kind of losing it. And she loved her children.

I am just so tired of that whole "hisotry repeats itself" crap. If it does, and we know we HATED that part of our history, STOP IT. That church member who entered that one concentration cmp first, said he would never forget that day and the feelings he had, when he viewed what was inside, and when he began helping people OUT. THAT is what we need to remember and try to repeat. We are brothers and sisters, all of us. So why does a man who looks like he could be Muslim get pulled out of line at the airport?! Even if her WAS Muslim, why?! Not all Muslims hate America. many love it here and stay here, become American themselves. A movie like this just re-awakens you, makes you think, think back, think forward. With our world history at our fingertips, why does it ever have to repeat? Why can't different steps be taken this time?

Sorry for ranting. This movie was just so...amazing I guess would be appropriate. It made me feel so much. You KNOW what will happen in a movie dealing with concentration camps will most likely end tragically, so to make one and still have audiences holding their hands to their mouths in shock...is unbelievable. Apparently it stays very true to the book, except when and how the family finally figures out Bruno is dead, was done differently. Wickipedia has it's ending. All I can see in my head, is two small sets of hands, entwined forever.

4 meaningful meanderings:

SO said...

This movie looks really good and I didn't read your whole post because I didn't want it ruined. Plus I want to read the book.

Carebear said...

Oh, wow, you're the first review of this film I've read. I really want to see it, but don't know if I can handle it. During Schindler's List, I laid face down on the carpet sobbing so hard I couldn't even watch the screen. It is a DEVASTATING film, but I'm glad I saw it. I felt that way about Blood Diamond too - it just burrowed into my soul and stayed there. Amazing that there are people who can create something that powerful, huh?

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LaurieJ said...

My sister loved this movie and said it was one of the few times that the movie touched her more than the book. I will have to check it out

Leah said...

From the sound of your post they took a lot of creative liberties in the movie that were not in the book. The book is written in the 8 yr old perspective so you do not really get any of the parents side of it, maybe a paragraph here or there. And the book is VERY short, I think I read it in an hour or two. Very moving book sounds like the movie is good too. Thanks

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