The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas – Year 10
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas Teresa Ip Mark Herman, the director of the film, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, uses significant film techniques to create empathy towards the Jewish people involved in the Holocaust. Herman delivers thought provoking ideas to illustrate the horrid events the Jews had to suffer. The significant themes that are conveyed in this film are truth and revelation, betrayal, human suffering and death.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas was set in 1942 at Auschwitz, Poland and is a historic didactic representation of the Holocaust.
Truth and revelation, betrayal and death are important themes because Bruno’s betrayal of Shmuel, an inmate of the Nazi concentration camp, leaves him in a situation where he must attempt to properly mend his relationship with Shmuel, by going inside the camp to look for his father. This results in a tragic ending of both boys and they represent the thousands of people killed during the Holocaust. The truth and revelation of the Holocaust are portrayed through the use of several dramatic film techniques allowing the audience to empathise for the Jewish people involved in the Holocaust.
The audience is in disbelief and are horrified that the Nazi soldiers could be so inhumane. Truth and revelation are realised in the scene where Elsa discovers the truth about her husband’s work in the Nazi concentration camp and her opinion of him immediately changes forever. Herman uses the dialogue with Lieutenant Kotler’s rhetorical question, to Elsa, Bruno’s mother, “They smell even worse when they burn, don’t they? ” to create the moment of truth for her and the audience.
In this scene as the audience begins to understand the real truth and horror behind the Holocaust, they also begin to empathise with the Jewish people as the gravity of the situation begins to sink in. Furthermore, the symbolic allusion of smoke is a visual representation of the bodies being burned. The director uses this technique as a way to create further empathy towards the Jewish people. Moreover, the close-up shot of Elsa emphasises her shocked reaction and creates a more dramatic effect to the scene.
In this way she represents the audience as this would hopefully be how they react. Thus, through the use of significant film techniques, Herman is able to convey thought provoking ideas based on truth and revelation to an audience. Betrayal is a theme delivered through various significant film techniques so the director is able to convey thought provoking ideas. The viewers are shocked when Bruno betrays Shmuel as they were finally united and the audience realises that Shmuel will have to suffer the consequences and the sense of hope is shattered.
Setting is significant and symbolic in the scene where Bruno and Shmuel are in the same room of Bruno’s house as they are not separated by a fence here. Mark Herman has used this to heighten the betrayal even more by bringing the two of them together. Furthermore, the dialogue “Little man, do you know this Jew? Do you know this Jew? ” is used to manipulate Bruno to respond, “No, I just walked in and he was helping himself. I’ve never seen him before in my life. ” In this way dramatic irony is used as the audience understands this to be a lie.
The audience then sides with Shmuel and realise how many Jewish people were betrayed, leading them to empathise for them. Moreover, the low angle shot of Lieutenant Kotler and Bruno reinforce their superiority and power, therefore the audience see the pair as having power and this technique highlights one of the many soldiers who had authority over the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Thus, the zooming out shot of Lieutenant Kotler, Bruno and Shmuel heightening Shmuel’s innocence, lack of power and vulnerability as he is standing behind the table, covered by the glasses so the viewer can only just see his head and feet.
On the other hand, Bruno is walking away with Lieutenant Kotler emphasising that he has sided with the Nazi’s. In this way, the audience realises that Bruno is not as innocent and angelic as they once thought and witness a darker side to him. Hence, the audience is able to understand betrayal through the use of significant film techniques. In the final scene of the film, death and loss are realised and these thought provoking ideas are conveyed through significant film techniques. In this way the audience is confronted with the shocking tragedy through the eyes of the director.
Symbolism is portrayed in the scene where Bruno and Shmuel are inside the camp; both wearing striped pyjamas symbolically and they are finally seen as equals. The lighting gradually becomes dark, dull and grey as Bruno and Shmuel walk deeper inside the concentration camp, portraying the lack of life of the people living inside. The audience is in disbelief when they realise how horrible the concentration camps were and are is shock of how inhumane the Nazi soldiers were. Pathetic fallacy is used when the rain starts to pour and a storm begins to develop.
This makes the scene more melancholic and the audience begins to anticipate that a tragedy is about to happen. Moreover, the zooming out shot of the silent anti-chamber emphasises the desolate loss of people, thus the empty striped pyjamas symbolically represent the mass death. The audience realises how many innocent people were killed and they begin to empathise for the Jews as well as having a better understanding of the Holocaust. This only resembles one of the many countless mass killings of the Jewish people that occurred.
Therefore, Herman’s ideas on death and loss are able to be understood by the audience through these significant film techniques. The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas focuses on the major themes of truth and revelation, betrayal, human suffering and death and loss. Herman has successfully linked these themes together through Bruno’s betrayal and consequential guilt as well as Shmuel’s continuous suffering. The death and loss of both Bruno and Shmuel represent the mass genocide that occurred during the Holocaust.
Herman has thus effectively conveyed his thought provoking ideas through the use of significant film techniques allowing him to evoke a sense of empathy in the audience. Betrayal, truth and revelation and death and loss are important because Bruno’s betrayal leaves him in an attempt to properly mend his relationship with Shmuel, by going inside the concentration camp to look for his father. This results in the death and loss of both and they represent the thousands of people who were killed during the Holocaust.
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas focuses on the major themes of truth and revelation, betrayal and death. Herman has successfully liked these themes together through Bruno’s betrayal and consequential guilt to make things right again between him and Shmuel. The death and loss of both Bruno and Shmuel represent the mass genocide that occurred during the Holocaust. Herman has thus effectively conveyed his though provoking ideas through significant film techniques, allowing him to evoke a sense of empathy in the audience.