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Review: 'The Boy in the Striped Pajamas'

A young German boy befriends a Jewish boy in a nearby concentration camp, unaware of the enormity of the horror going on behind the fence.

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‘The Boy in Striped Pajamas’: Asa Butterfield plays a 9-year-old German boy, Bruno, who makes friends during World War II with a Jewish boy in a nearby concentration camp.

COURTESY OF DAVID LUKACS/MIRAMAX FILM CORP.

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In "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas," the unspeakable atrocities of the Holocaust are glimpsed through the eyes of a 9-year-old boy, and somehow this makes them seem even more unspeakable. Bruno (the marvelous young actor Asa Butterfield) is the son of a high-ranking Nazi officer, Ralf (David Thewlis), who moves his family from Berlin to a remote countryside home that is walled off from a "farm" in the far distance. In fact, what is being walled out is a concentration camp, with Ralf acting as its commandant.

Bruno's mother Elsa (Vera Farmiga) is kept in the dark for a long time about her husband's murderous duties. When she learns, she snaps. Not so scrupulous is Bruno's elder sister Gretel (Amber Beattie), who is enamored of a sadistic young Nazi lieutenant (Rupert Friend) and adorns her bedroom walls with Hitler Youth posters. Isolated and uncomprehending, without pals to play with, Bruno is bored stiff. One day, although forbidden to do so, he ventures beyond the wall. Running up against the barbed-wired camp enclosure, he befriends a Jewish boy his own age, Shmuel (Jack Scanlon).

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