15th September 2008. Mr Axl & Lady 'Caela have decided to go to the cinema, but they can't decide what to see. Nothing at the Odeon really takes their fancy right at this moment in time. Lady 'Caela checks what's on at the Phoenix.
LC: "Do you fancy seeing 'The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas'?
MA: "What's that?"
LC: "It's a film about the Holocaust."
MA: Slightly dubious as he's not really sure he's in the mood for that. "Hmmm.... dunno."
They look at the Odeon board. The only thing Mr Axl wants to see is 'Man On Wire', but Lady 'Caela isn't in the mood for a documentary. Everything else they could see now kind of looks a bit lame.
LC: Deciding to try her luck. "What film magazine do you most trust?"
MA: "Empire. Why?"
LC: "We'll see what they give it."
MA: "Okay." Thinks to himself that if it's anything lower than 4 stars, we're in for a tricky few minutes.
Lady 'Caela looks up the review on her phone internet. There on the screen comes up the Empire header. Below it, 'The Boy With The Striped Pyjamas' has been awarded 4 stars.
MA: "Alright then, let's go."
I've always been a bit of a sucker for Empire. I don't know what it is, but they just seem to be really good. There is no music mag that is as good as Empire is a film mag. Not by a long shot. Which is a real fucking shame.
The last time I can remember seeing a film that I knew virtually nothing about beforehand (not counting random films on tele) was The Matrix. All I knew about that was that Keanu Reeves was in it, and there was fighting. All I knew about this was that it's about the holocaust.
I found out the next day that it's an adaptation of a children's book, which makes sense as it's basically a child's view of a part of the Second World War. Which has a double effect of a) adding an innocent naivety & humour to things, and b) heightening all emotional responses. When something is felt, you feel it that much more. This would be such an easy thing to overdo, but the film is extremely good at simply presenting itself, not trying to make you think one thing or another, and just letting you go along with the events and feelings of the film, leaving you to have a perfectly natural emotional response to what you are seeing. Nothing is forced out of you. Nazi's are not presented as pantomime villains, they are presented as real people, which makes their moments of 'evil' all the more effective.
The basic plot of the film is that a Nazi officer is promoted to oversee a Concentration Camp. His family moves out of Berlin for him to be closer to his work. While out playing, the officer's son finds the Camp which he has seen from his bedroom window. There on the other side of the border fence is another boy. The two become friends. The film centres around not only the two's friendship, but also the effect on the family of the move and the changes in their lives that come from his new job.
This film is incredibly moving. The contrast between how the situation is seen by the children and what we the audience already know in retrospect really affects how you feel towards this film. It's something that I'm sure the film-makers know and have done deliberately, but I'm not sure how. Like I said earlier, they never try to drill anything into you, you just feel what you feel naturally.
I'm not sure if I've made this clear or not, but I think this is a really good film. If it weren't for a certain 'Dark Knight' this would almost certainly be my film of the year so far. I urge you all to go and see it. Make sure you take some tissues tho.
If I were to do a 'Fudge' style rating, it would get 4.5 fudge sundaes out of 5