Monday, 16 August 2010


Directors: Mark Herman
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

UK release date: 12th September 2008

Watched on DVD Monday 16th August 2010.


Having heard quite a few good things about this film I was quite keen to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn’t disappointed, it’s a very though provoking and, at times (for me at least), a very emotional experience. The setting is Germany during World War Two where a family live in Berlin.

Eight year old Bruno is quite happy living in Berlin, he has many friends to play with, a sister, Gretel, a loving mother and his father is a soldier. When father gets a promotion, however, things are about to change dramatically for the boy. They move to a big house in the countryside where Bruno is initially not happy. He spots what looks like a farm from his bedroom window. All the people working there seem to be wearing striped pyjamas. He asks his mother about it and at first she seems ok with him making new friends, but once she learns the nature of her husband’s new job she changes her mind. Eventually Bruno becomes bored and goes off to explore. He finds his way through the woods until he comes across a high fence behind which is a boy of his own age called Shmuel. Returning often, Bruno soon becomes friends with this strange boy. But all is not what it seems, and things are about to take a very drastic turn for two friends.

Even though it has quite a slow pace I found this film quite absorbing. The music, under the direction of music editor Dick Bernstein, is excellent and fits the mood quite perfectly. Great performances from both Asa Butterfield as Bruno and Jack Scanlon as Shmuel. Also very creditable performances from Vera Farmiga as Elsa (Mother), David Thewlis as Father, Rupert Friend as Lieutenant Kotler and David Hayman as Pavel.

I found it quite a difficult film to watch, but given the subject matter it was never going to be an easy watch. Having said that, the film did portray the innocence of youth very well which is all credit to all involved. The ending is quite dramatic and not for the feint hearted. So, over all, this can be a difficult film to watch, but ultimately it is worth the effort. Recommended.

My score: 8.4/10

IMDb Site:
Official Site (UK):
Official Site (USA):

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