What can I say about the movie? Well, I probably wouldn’t recommend it for a first date – it’s not exactly a snog-&-snuggle-in-the-back-seat sort of movie, but it is the most moving & remarkable film about childhood I have ever seen.
Bruno is the eight-year-old son of a Nazi officer. When his father is promoted from a desk job in Berlin to commanding a death camp in the middle of nowhere, Bruno can’t quite understand the sudden frosty tension between his parents, or why he is forbidden to visit the strange “farm” with the electric fences.
Exploring the area one day, Bruno meets Shmuel (a boy on the other side of the fence) and the two strike up a friendship. One review describes this relationship as having “the rhythm of a children’s adventure, spiked by unspeakable adult truths.” The boys laugh, talk, play games and struggle to understand the prejudices & propaganda that separate them.
The film evokes various emotions with several memorable themes arising including boundaries, betrayal, guilt & forgiveness and a non-forgettable moment when the words “thank you” have never seemed so powerful.
As a youth worker, I’m glad this book/film has been produced. It engages with the complexity of the Holocaust in a language that can move youth as profoundly as adults. Whilst there is the danger that this can be branded a work of fiction, it is important that as the “Holocaust generation” dies off, those successive generations never forget the horrific evils of the past. This movie should leave us with the chilling reality that these unspeakable events could happen again.