Opening 7 May 2009
Film director Mark Herman taps into the work of colleague John Boyne (actor and novelist), and both explore the atrocities of WWII concentration camps observed through the eyes of a child. The brilliant narrative illuminates the Silver Screen with the use of transfixing visuals that could tell the heart-wrenching story clearly without words.
Bruno’s father, a decorated German SS officer (David Thewlis), relocates his family from the big city to the countryside on the eve of his new job assignment as commander of Germany’s largest extermination facility for Jews and German dissidents of all ages. The officer’s wife (Vera Farmige), daughter Gretel (Amber Beattie), and son Bruno (Asa Butterfield) are unaware of the real reason for the move and believe in the charade of a desirable life in the country.
Young Bruno is strangely confined to the large compound of his new home but longs to explore its outer perimeters. The landscape, viewed from a concealed window in his bedroom, is vast but queer. He notices a trail of dark smoke rising above the thick forest of trees that separate him and the vapor. Struck with curiosity, he sneaks toward the sight. To his delight, he finds a little boy named Shmuel (Jack Scanlon) wearing striped pajamas. Bruno wonders about the odd attire but it is of no concern compared to the thrill of finding a potential soulmate in the lonely countryside they both inhabit.
Saddened that Shmuel is doomed to work with adults behind a barbed wire fence, Bruno brings him cheer during his break each day. He shares a little sweet bread, a game or conversation of adventurous escapades. In their innocence they never imagine that their secret friendship would force adults to face their guilty complicity in war. (Karen Pecota)