Set during World War II, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.



Bruno, a German of eight years, leads a somewhat sheltered life in the comforts of wealth in Berlin. When Bruno’s father  is promoted to a high ranking officer of the Nazi regime, Bruno and his family have to relocate to his father’s new post, which happens to be nearby to a concentration camp. After many frustrating days of boredom Bruno journeys to the concentration camp, thinking it is a farm, and starts up a friendship with Shmuel, a Jewish boy. From the very start the story is displayed in a very linear and uncomplicated fashion. There is no extravagant story telling, no attempts to make the story more then it is. However this is not to say that the film is devoid of depth, because it has plenty and can stir up many symbolic and thematic explanations which help enrich the viewing. But the simple process of the story is more the directors attempt in keeping with the innocence of Bruno to help relate the viewer to him. The reason this is perhaps done is because while the film is relatively faithful to the original novel, many details have been altered. One such is the literary device of a process of discovery from the reader into the true context of the story just as Bruno begins to learn more of the real world. As such the film adaptation will inevitably make it more difficult for the viewer to relate to Bruno because we become the out- group to his innocence. The simple storytelling works though it could have been more complex, including many details that were omitted.

There are more dramatic and more philosophical pieces of cinema dealing with this very emotive subject, but few deal with the horror, futility and falsehood of the “final solution” with such clear simplicity. We see the lead characters as both humans and monsters we see internal conflict and how they each come to terms with their conflicts, above all we see how futile their conclusions were. There will be the predictable comparisons with Schindler’s List but you might also want to compare this movie to “The Counterfeiters” which also deals with the conflicts necessary to survive. Watching this movie I kept being drawn back to Primo Levi’s book “If This is Man” the story of his time as a prisoner suffering from this evil. The great success of the film is its simplicity, it does not seek to over analyse but simply allows the development of the characters to tell the story.

The Blu-Ray comes with deleted scenes, featurettes and a commentary from the writer and director. The A/V Quality is a marked improvement over the DVD that came out about two years ago. The level of clarity is better than I’ve ever seen with the film, but the dialogue seems muffled towards the end of the movie. I’m not sure if it was due to no back channel action, but everything seemed forced into the front channels. Oh well, it’s still an amazing movie and one that’s well worth a purchase.



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