The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I’ll be the first to admit that my movie-watching propensities leave much to be desired no matter where you stand on issues of entertainment (and that includes in my own shoes).  I‘ll also be the first to say that I know and respect many, many solid Christians who have very different views on entertainment (in theory and practice) than my own.  I relate my own struggles in this area not as a judgment or a condemnation, but as what they are: a part of me.  I hope that in the uncertainties of my heart, the ones I know to be influenced some by conscience and even more by tradition, you find a productive pause for thought.  I also hope that in return you offer me the helping hand of any wisdom God’s given to you in this area!

For me, movies are a vice–a pleasure, but a guilty one. 

 They let me escape from work and from reality…mostly when I shouldn’t. 

They let me participate in lifestyles I would never, ever think of actually living.  Sometimes this is good.  Other times, it is a great setback in my earthly pilgrimage.

They fill my mind with people and images and ideas and expectations–some (but not all) harmful; almost none worthy of the (very) limited space in my head. 

And they highlight my utter lack of self control.  If there’s a movie in the house, I’ll watch it.  Just like if there’re mint oreos in the cupboard, I’ll eat them.  Even when I think I shouldn’t.  Which is why I could personally never subscribe to netflix or own stock in Nabisco. 

Because of all these things and a few more I won’t go into, it is with GREAT delight that I can tell you about the movie Tim and I watched on Friday night. 

It’s called The Boy in Striped Pajamas, and I checked it out from the library on Monday with vague recollections of a positive review somewhere in the depths of an old World magazine (my source for movie reviews along with and Philippians 4:8, all of which help me keep this particular vice of mine in check).

There was nothing in this movie (nothing!  do you know how rare this is?) that triggered the ol’ internal guilty twinge.  No misuses of God’s name in any form, whether in the language used or the religious aspects portrayed.  No unrealistic relationships nor steamy romance scenes nor even any cleavage that made me covet or Tim squirm.  No glorified violence nor taking of precious human life lightly, for sport or revenge or any reason at all.

And yet the film more than made up for all these lacking movie-must-haves.  It was well cast and played (excepting the fact that all the characters ((German and Jew)) spoke fluent English with British accents…).   It didn’t fit a mold–and its unpredictability was part of its powerful message.  It was unsurpassed (in my limited repertoire) in point of view and character development in 8 year old Bruno’s experience of the Holocaust.  It made the travesty of WWII’s concentration camps real to me in a way that none of my reading and research has been able to accomplish (perhaps this is the real strength of the movie-medium…it involves our minds and emotions by the sights and sounds of people and events in a way that words on the page cannot). 

So there you have it: a movie that I can recommend without qualms. 

However, be warned: despite the fact that it is clean and deep and thoroughly worthy of time and attention, it is not a film for young children. 

Nor is it a film that can be taken lightly. 

It was NOT the Friday evening wind down we were expecting. 

It kept us both awake and talking much later into the night than planned. 

But it is a film we will show our highschoolers (when we have them) to teach them about what war is really all about, to remind them of the two sides every story has, to counter the bombardment of entertainment that glorifies and trivializes violence and death, and to emphasize the value of life created in God’s image and the light found only in Him.

I hope you see it, and I hope you find it as valuable as we did.  Let me know!


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  1. #1 by Sally on August 10, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Hey, I really appreciate you sharing this with us. We’ll have to check about watching that sometime whenever we have time to watch a full-length movie (that was rare before Marie was born, and it’s even rarer now).

    I feel a little bit sorry for you over the movie issue/vice. I’m sure I have equal vices and challenges, but movies are not one of them. I didn’t grow up with movies, videos, or TV, and it holds very little attraction for me. I can enjoy a really good movie, but what I consider really good and worth my while is so narrow that there aren’t many I want to watch. Having said all that, I did, at Andrew’s insistence watch Avatar, and at his insistence, watch one Lord of the Rings, and I think 2 Star-somethings (the one with the black guy). I like Andy Griffith movies. That’s the pinnacle of my idea of a good movie. It’s real! I don’t like things that are pretend and make-believe, and could never happen in real life. I’m not into science fiction, and I find make-believe Hollywood living nauseating. Real people have to work to make a living, real people don’t have perfect waistlines and perfect complexions, real people have health problems and devastating disappointments in life (that aren’t remedied by time or money), and so on. Anyway, I could go on, but this is a comment on your blog, and not a full-length post for my own.

    I’m afraid that since I’m not a movie person, I don’t really have guidelines to share with you about movies. Oh, I enjoyed watching Gandhi. That was extremely thought-provoking and it really happened. I also watched it during the time I had pancreatitis a few years ago and wasn’t able to eat a thing by mouth for several weeks. A good time of life to watch it, right?

    • #2 by Cristy on August 10, 2010 - 3:34 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions, Sally! I didn’t watch many movies growing up, either. But I do like Andy Griffith! I hope you do get some time to relax soon…I know it’s a lot of sleeping and nursing with chores in between with a new baby around!

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