I shifted in my seat uncomfortably. Wiped my tears, raged to keep my body firm, not crippling in pain.
It was a bad movie. The kind of experience that aims for dumbstruck but leaves you numbstruck instead. Throughout the whole 1.5 hours, I considered leaving. “You have to give it a chance, love,” I told myself and continued watching, blinking a tear away. “What if the ending makes it the best movie of your life?”
The ending didn’t. The screen went black and the cast names appeared, sealing off the all too well known fate of the Jews.
I hate movies that shamelessly tug at your heartstrings. That use a terrible reality, a shameful part of history, manipulate it, and make money off the public’s distraught exhaustion. It was just like that other doozie a few years ago The Passion of the Christ. Yes, we know what happened to Jesus; it’s a personal matter that doesn’t need to be visually spelled out. Nor disrespected by some greedy bastard who’s discovered a way to capitalize off it.
Just like that, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas killed off a young German boy who confused a concentration camp for a farm. Made friends with a Jewish 8-year-old across the fence, brought his new pal chocolate and sandwiches when he remembered, and played hours of checkers with him. When the Jewish boy lost his dad in the camp, the German boy decided to dig under the fence and help him find him. They didn’t have enough time, though, because suddenly they were all rushed off for a “shower.”
The boys squeezed hands before the screen went black.
Inventive? Not so much. Bastard directors. I know what this is: Cheap tricks to cover up an age-old theme. What’s cheaper and cuter than seeing the horror from the precious eyes of an innocent child? Who (oh, my God, how clever!) digs under the fence!!! My, oh, my, why hadn’t anyone else thought of digging before…
You want a good holocaust movie? Take a look at Life Is Beautiful. That’s a wonderful movie, poignant, entertaining, presenting what happened and flawlessly touting the human spirit for its beauty and resilience. That movie has a point and a unique angle.
I used to have concentration camp dreams. Traumatizing, bloody scenes. I don’t have them anymore, because I’ve worked through my own terrors. I’m calm now. Calm enough to use my own imagination when I need to dig up the horror of the overtaught, over-reminded holocaust.
A message for the directors: We know what happened. Respect it and just let it rest, will you?