Eight year old Bruno (Asa Butterfield) is sad because his father (David Thewlis) informed that the family is moving to a different place. His sister Gretel (Amber Beattie) though is excited. Bruno has to find new friends to play with. His mother (Vera Farmiga) assures him that the place has garden to play which impresses little for Bruno. Bruno’s father is a Nazi soldier and the new place is a mile away from the camp. Bruno is curious when he sees a group of people from his window to be dressed similar with stripes. He tells this to his mother and she immediately bolts the window.
Bruno ventures on exploration behind his house which has been warned against by his mother. He finds a fence (which he learns later that is electrified) and a little boy of his same age is sitting dressed in striped uniform on the other side of it. The boy is Shmuel (Jack Scanlon) and he is in the camp. Bruno asks whether the uniform with the number is a game and Shmuel says it is not. Like this Bruno learns that he is a Jew and Bruno remembers that then Shmuel is supposed to be his enemy as his tutor Herr Liszt (Jim Norton) told him and his sister. He is confused than to blindly abide that. His sister unlike begins to fall for it which is more for her crush, a young Lieutenant Kotler (Rupert Friend).
As for many kids, for Bruno and Gretel their father is their hero. Bruno exposed to the camp and finding that Shmuel a Jewish kid is the same as he is desperately wants to believe that his dad is not mistreating the people in the camp. He sneaks in a façade film presentation of the camp watched by his dad and his superiors where the place is nice and well treated. He hugs his dad immediately for not letting him down. In the meanwhile Bruno’s mother smells the horrid odour as Bruno does and learns that people are burned in the camp. While she was aware of the camp, her “See No Evil” conveniently discarded the possibility of atrocities and as the kids she believes in her husband’s sanity in humanity. She is disappointed and soon she begins to dissolve in the guilt, madness and frustration of her being the silent witness to this evil.
The film never directly shows the inhumane conditions and lets the kids discuss their perspective of each side. Being untouched by the clutches of the hatred, Bruno without any education to tell him knows that what is happening is fishy. How clean is a kid’s mind that sometimes ignorance is in fact the bliss she/he needs to be in. The knowledge they are going to get growing is the knowledge to manufacture killing machines for bigot, hatred and inhumanity. The story of the film reminds what is fed into the kids now a day. What is that they grow and taught in the circle of society? Are they in the rational learning clinically absorb the concept of goodness as a study and discard it in the cynicism they witness and made believe? What is to believe of the government, country and worse their parents on recognizing the good and evil? The generation in the wake of technology and terror are both well informed and badly nurtured at the same time with the absorption for hatred in smears of sporadic emotions.
“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is not the story of the camp but a reminder what the kids are aware and taught of. It is a story how we are as an adult proclaim the wrongdoing as pragmatism for survival to the weak heart. And the minds gulp it in a sweet swallow in fear of being denied of the love from their parents. Gretel as Bruno knows the wrong doing but denies it over the credibility she has over the adults. But who decides the credibility and are we capable of advocating the right and wrong as clearly as possible? Is knowledge be a doctrine of wrong facts or a teaser for greater questions to be looked upon openly and with multitudes of possibility in this continuously growing diverse and wide world? When you come out of the film with soaked hearts think what you will be telling the kids about your frustration and complains against a community, a country, a religion or any one at all.