Author: John Boyne
Publication Year: 2007
When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.
The Boy in The Striped Pajamas tells a tale about the horror of holocaust. This book starts simple, a nine years old boy came home to find that his belongings were packed by the house maid. His family has to move to a new place because his father got a promotion. Then, we’ll find out what kind of place his new home really is.
Though this book talks about dark and heavy issue, it’s told from a nine years old boy point of view. The boy, whose name is Bruno, only understands what he’s been told by adults around him. He just want to live his life like another normal boy. He might seem like an ignorant boy, but that’s just how children are.
The author interestingly used puns in this book, such as ‘Out-With’ and ‘Fury’. At first I didn’t really see those puns as a big deal. Bruno is just a child anyway, maybe he just simply mispronounced them or didn’t hear the words right. But after I realized what those words really mean, I was shocked. It’s horrifying to learn that a boy like him didn’t realize how horrible the situation he’s living in. Especially because he couldn’t differentiate what’s good or bad.
Bruno’s father is a nazi officer. He is so proud of his father. Because like other normal nine years old boys, he sees his father as his hero. One time, he even said that he wanted to be a soldier like his father. Some say that this book is about the innocence of children. But it also shows how terrifying genocide is. This book sends a powerful message. The back of this book says ‘Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to encounter one.’ Those sentences show me that the author really cares about the genocide issue and he has a mission to make people more aware of this issue. It’s a great book. One thing that put me off is the pacing. The first half of the book focus on how bored Bruno was. But after the boring part, it’s all good.
This is the kind of book that I think everyone should read at least once. This book makes me concern about social issue more. Who knows what positive impact this book would bring to other people.
The Boy in The Striped Pajamas has been adapted into movie in 2008 starring Asa Butterfield as Bruno, David Thewlis as Ralf (Bruno’s father), Vera Farmiga as Elsa (Bruno’s mother), and Jack Scanlon as Shmuel. I have seen Butterfield’s performance before in Hugo and I think he’s a good actor. I believe he’s younger in this movie though, but still he’s able to portray an innocent child who’s torn into believing what he’s seen or what people told him. Vera Farmiga also gives a terrific performance. In the book, the mother doesn’t give much appearance. While in this movie, we could see that she has conflicting feelings toward her husband and his job. I’m a bit disappointed with David Thewlis as Ralf. When I read the book, I always think that Bruno’s father is a man full of authority and charisma near to the point of being scary. For me, David Thewlis is not as charismatic as I think Bruno’s father would be. But that is the only problem I have with the cast.
The plot of the movie is not that different from the book. Although there are some parts that are removed and some addition which is usual for a book-to-movie adaptation. It is also possible that the changes applied because the book is supposed to be told from first person. While the movie is told from third person. In my opinion, the pacing is not as slow as the book. So I wasn't as bored as I was when I was reading the book.
I cried while watching this movie. This movie really pulls my heartstrings. Reading the book, I understand that there are mean things and cruel actions happening at the holocaust. But watching the movie somehow makes it even more real (which is true, the holocaust is real despite the fact that The Boy in The Striped Pajamas is a fiction). The movie makes the ending kind of more explicit. The book ends in a point where you know what was going to happen, right before it happened. Whilst the movie just let it happen and left no place to assume otherwise. It’s a good movie and It’s okay even if you don’t read the book. Because the plot is not that different. I give this movie an 8 out of 10.