2008-12-26 / Entertainment/Lifestyles

MovieScope

'The Boy In The Striped Pajamas' - Children Of The Holocaust -
By Robert Snyder

Channel 13 recently showed a documentary called, "Inheritance," about the real-life daughter of Amon Goeth, the brutal Nazi concentration camp commandant. Now in her 60's, she was born shortly after her father's execution and only discovered his monstrous legacy when she saw him portrayed in the film, "Schindler's List." Horrified and appalled, she contacted a Jewish woman, who was her father's teenage servant and slave in the camp.

The two women's painful meeting and attempted reconciliation is the devastating centerpiece of the documentary.

Both are children of the Holocaust, though coming from different sides and different times. A similar theme is tackled in the feature film, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas."

An allegorical fable based on the novel by John Boyne, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," speculates on an unlikely friendship forming between a Nazi concentration camp commandant's 8-year-old son, Bruno (Asa Butterfield), and a same-aged Jewish prisoner, Shmuel (Jack Scanlon), at the camp.

Both boys, who secretly meet separated by a barbed-wire fence, share a desire to bond, but an overwhelming naiveté about the evil of adults around them, despite the great fear that Shmuel faces every day. It is much like the persistent denial that Goeth's daughter expresses about her mother's ignorance of the camp's horrors. In fact, at first, Bruno's mother (Vera Framinga), lives in such a bubble, going about her household duties, believing

the lies of her husband (David Thewlis) that the people working nearby in the striped pajamas are "farmers." However, the truth surfaces in a violent way when a Jewish manservant in the house disappears after spilling a glass of wine and Shumuel appears with a head wound, a result of Bruno's failure to admit to giving him some food. The betrayal

gives Bruno the guilts. He promises to make good by dressing in striped pajamas himself, sneaking into the camp and helping Shmuel find his suddenly-vanished dad.

The result is one of the great tragic film finales. Go see "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas." As in the documentary, it raises the question: Is possible for a child of evil to be innocent?

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