Title: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Director: Mark Herman
Starring: Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon, David Thewlis, Vera Farmiga, & Rupert Friend
Released: November 28, 2008
Length: 94 min.
Overall: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
The year is 1942. Berlin is a quaint, bustling city–the perfect place for a boy to grow up with his parents, sister, and three best friends for life. When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed into crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. His explorations lead him to a fence, a boy, and some devastating consequences.
Following the story line of the book very closely, the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is just as dramatic and moving as the book. When I decided to go ahead and watch the movie version, I was a bit doubtful that it could measure up to the book. Since the story in the book is told from the perspective of a naive child, I expected that the movie would betray some of the subtle hints dropped in the book too early, due to it being a visual interpretation of the story. While some things that were not entirely evident in the beginning of the book were exposed sooner in the film, I found this did nothing to damage the viewer experience, regardless of whether the book was read beforehand or not.
In this case I think that the book outweighed the movie only slightly (an admiral feat in my opinion). It seems to me that watching the movie without reading the book first would have caused me to give the film a five star rating, but the book was so good, that in comparison, I think four stars is a fair assessment. The movie is a great substitute for those who are not inclined to read, though I would never recommend watching the movie before reading the book as I think it would completely destroy the experience. I highly encourage viewing the film after reading the book as I think it will aid visualization of the story and bring it closer to home.