The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas


When his family moves to Poland, young Bruno befriends Shmuel, a boy who lives on the other side of the fence, where everyone seems to be wearing striped pyjamas. Unaware of Shmuel’s fate as a Jewish prisoner, Bruno embarks on a dangerous journey.

Year: 2008
Certificate: 12A
Director: Mark Herman
Starring: Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, David Heyman, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon, Amber Beattie, Sheila Hancock, Richard Johnson, Jim Norton

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The holocaust, for good reason, tends to result in rather emotional films; I will say from the outset of this review that “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” is one of these emotional films.

“The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” is a film that shows you a view of the holocaust through the eyes of an 8 year old boy, Bruno. His father, a German soldier, receives a promotion and the family is relocated. As an adult watching the film and having a basic concept of history, it becomes clear very quickly that they are housed next to a concentration camp for Jews and that the father has a senior position. However, for an 8 year old boy it is just a new adventure.

Those from the camp who are helping out delivering vegetables to the family home or help with cleaning are, in the eyes of Bruno, simply strange farmers that are wearing pyjamas. Bruno eventually wanders off and finds the camp where he befriends a young Jewish boy called Shmuel. The two boys build up a bond and Bruno learns that Shmuel is a Jew although, ever the naive 8 year old, he believes it is just another village – albeit one surrounded by a fence.

As the daughter of the family slowly becomes indoctrinated by the Nazi propaganda, the mother also learns just what, exactly, is happening in the neighbouring concentration camp…

It’s slightly strange to begin with that all the characters speak in a perfect, English accent but I feel that this adds to the horror of the events. How could they possibly be evil people if they’re speaking just like us? It’s a clever touch to an already emotional film. No one character is fully good or bad; the father is carrying out some very bad things at the camp, but he clearly loves his family; Bruno is a friendly child but does do a bad thing in the film. You feel for each character yet despise some of their actions at the same time. It’s a very cleverly put together film and a beautifully crafted story. I would definitely recommend it but be prepared for its emotional content.

Have you seen this film? Let us know your opinions in the comments below and of course if there are any films on Netflix UK you want us to review let us know!

About MaFt

Film and TV fan, creator of New On Netflix (UK, USA, Australia and Canada), dad of two amazing children, code geek and passionate about autism.

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4 thoughts on “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

  1. Whilst I hate to be a ‘the book is better’ bore, I think it applies in a fundamental way in this case. In the book we see through the boy’s innocent eyes but the visual impact of such familiar iconography on the film makes it lose a little something. Still a great film though!

    1. It must be really difficult to convert a book written in the 1st person into a film. I’ve not read the book so can’t comment on the ‘transfer’ but it’s on my list of things to read.

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