Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

I watched the movie, "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" last night. My sister had warned me about it--how sad the ending was. I told her that the ending was pretty much predictable--I meant that that's how it is with the Holocaust. She got quiet and I knew that there was something she wasn't telling me.

The movie was nice and very well made. It captured my attention very well--the story of a boy who was the son of a concentration camp commander. The child was 8 and he crept off regularly and sat outside the fence of the camp and talked with another boy his own age. I had assumed before I saw the movie that at the end he would see his friend go off to die, in one way or the other.

As I got to the last ten minutes of the movie, the main character crawled under the camp fence and put on a set of striped clothing that the other child gave him and then the two of them went in search of the Jewish boy's father. As I watched the guards round up the Jews and herd them, the boys included, into the gas chamber, I realized that the gentile boy, the son of the commander, was going to die with his friend and the other camp inhabitants.

After my jaw first dropped, I had a really odd reaction to this. Rather than weeping as the story progressed to the end, I was delighted that the writer of the story had devised such a clever twist. I shook my head incredulously and said to myself, "I can't believe he has done this!" The pure irony of the story amused me to no end, especially since the boy's father was an extremely cruel man.

As a writer, I admired that twist so much, that it completely pulled me out of the movie. Rather than feeling overwhelmed with sympathy for the characters, I was instead filled with admiration for the writer. I woke up this morning still marveling over the story.

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