The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (UK-US, 2008)

Divided at birth

John Boyne’s source novel uses the limited perspective afforded by the medium brilliantly so we only gradually understand the social context of Bruno’s life. Film, on the other hand, cannot do anything but show the social context so it loses the focus on the child’s consciousness. Film can still give us the child’s perspective but not in such a complete way. So why adapt source material that is already perfect in its form?

The story of the concentration camps and racial intolerance is one that should never stop being told and Mark Herman’s adaptation tells it superbly. Key to the film’s success is the performances he gets from the youngsters and their conversations through the wire lay out the evil of the Nazis brilliantly. After the ‘wow look at the period detail’ of the opening the film relies upon the human drama and hopefully the film is being used in schools as it both engages on a human level and educates in morality.

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