There are a lot of things that need to be said about “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” but I am not sure that I can put them into words. It doesn't get much heavier than this one. The anachronism between the childlike innocence of the main characters and the horrific genocide that took place in the concentration camps captures the darkness of this sad chapter in human history. The story is effective because of its deliberate progression. It begins with a happy, seemingly normal family, but an uncomfortable dissonance arises from the transformation of each character: The daughter’s loss of innocence through Nazi propaganda, the increasing heartlessness of David Thewlis, the transformation of Vera Farmiga as her growing understanding of the concentration camp causes her to completely unravel (she should have received an Oscar nomination for this performance), and the ability of a young child to look through a striped uniform (and an electric fence) to see that these persecuted Jews were just regular people. Asa Butterfield puts on a stunning performance and his lack of transformation is a key factor in the story, reminding us that many German's would have helped the Jews if they could. The story is effective because it begins quietly with the family in Berlin and slowly forms a crescendo that ends in a deafening climax. Without question, this movie contains one the most heart-wrenching scenes in all of movie history. I found myself frozen in place, paralyzed by James Horner's mortifying orchestration as the final events of this movie unfold. You will be unable to breathe at the conclusion of this movie - prepare yourself in advance, but you need to see this. There have been many graphic portrayals of the Holocaust, but “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” downplays the politics and emphasizes the humanity of the Jews by showing history through the lens of childlike innocence.
[Pictured: Only a child could look past the fence and the clothes and see a friend]