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ANALYSIS: The child in the striped pajamas. Why see it?

First of all, we would like to clarify that this film covers the category of drama and war. To understand, we clarify the point of the categories.

Dramatic Cinema

Drama is a film genre that deals with generally non-epic situations in a serious context, with a tone and orientation more likely to inspire sadness and compassion than laughter or grace. However, from an etymological point of view, drama evokes action and dialogue.

This type of work has recently gained popularity in several countries around the world, with films such as Prison Break, Dr House, etc. Generally, a drama is based on a script where with the least possible humor and in a natural way, a serious and transcendent subject is approached (death, misery, infidelity, rape, sexuality, drug addiction, alcoholism, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, socioeconomic estrangement, violence against women, corruption…) with a painful and/or scandalous orientation, which almost always concretizes some type of social injustice. The work can be inspired by a historical issue (with themes such as the Holocaust) or by current affairs. However, drama should not be confused with tragedy (the latter is not very developed in cinema, taking out some adaptations of novels or plays), since a tragedy always ends with the death of at least one of the protagonists (as for example in Romeo and Juliet or Notre-Dame de Paris…).

Drama in cinema implies a film where the characterization of the characters is developed in depth, in a realistic way, and letting their emotions and feelings come out, which in one way or another generates conflicts among them and even with themselves, and/or with society, and/or with nature itself.

Historical background


The dramatic genre originated in Greece. In the beginning, theatrical representations were related to the cult of Dionysus, god of wine and joy, and therefore possessed a sacred character. Such representations consisted of hymns dedicated to that deity or divinity. Later, changes were introduced to the songs; so the dramatic genre itself emerges. The most important Greek playwrights were: Thespi (who was the first to take out a member of the chorus to create a dialogue), he called him protagonist, then Aeschylus takes out another member of the chorus and puts him to dialogue with the chorus (head of the chorus), he called him deuteragonist, and finally Sophocles introduces the third actor (triagonist), he also introduces the scenery and increases the choruses (other members of the chorus).

To the theater, according to the classification of Greek theater (drama) in the Poetics of Aristotle, belong the following major genres:

The fourth major genre, the Piece (also known as Psychological Theatre or Bourgeois Theatre) would emerge until the second half of the 19th century with authors such as Ibsen and Strindberg in Scandinavia, Chekhov in Russia and, already in the 20th century, Arthur Miller in the United States.

From Ancient Greece the dramatic work passes to Rome, where the most outstanding authors were: Terence, Seneca and Plautus. During the first period of the Middle Ages the dramatic genre became extinct, and Greek plays were completely forgotten. Around the eleventh and twelfth centuries Europeans reinvented the theater, and comedies written in Latin emerged, which were performed in monasteries, courts and universities. It was not a theater for the people. It emerged in churches and consisted of the dramatization of certain scenes from the Gospel. These representations, written in the common language, were mainly performed on the three most important feasts of the liturgy: Christmas, Epiphany and Resurrection.

The first play written entirely in Spanish was the Auto de los Reyes Magos. It is still incomplete (142 verses); the final part, which should show the adoration of the kings to the Child Jesus, is missing. This play was written at the end of the 12th or beginning of the 13th century and, like all plays of its time, it is anonymous.


It is a genre destined to be represented publicly in front of an audience, so it covers all theatrical manifestations. What happens in the play is neither described nor narrated, nor directly commented by the playwright, but seen by the spectator. The play is written, but the main thing in it is what happens (because of this, there are plays without words, in which gestures and attitudes are used to express the conflict).

The play is characterized by the gathering of them in various codes, such as verbal, paraverbal and non-verbal. When we speak of paraverbal code, we refer to that which complements the verbal, that is, intonation, emphasis and pauses. In the category of non-verbal codes we find gestures, music, sound, lighting, scenery, costumes and makeup. This confluence of codes allows us to give life on stage to the world created by a writer (who creates the play) and the director, who is responsible for the show or play.

Drama as a cinematographic genre

As a cinematographic genre, drama always poses conflicts between the main characters of the film narrative and provokes an emotional response in the spectator, who is moved by it because it challenges his sensitivity. The characters’ problems are related to passion or inner problems.

The theme of this type of film is diverse, but its main axis is love. When the emphasis on love/emotion is exaggerated, the drama is known as melodrama: in it, the characters are limited to the simplistic character of good or bad.

Most of the movies or plays promote morality as a central axis and, therefore, have a marked didactic dimension. The presence of music and photography accentuates the credibility of the work.

War cinema

The historical events of wars and armed conflicts experienced in different parts of the world are brought to the big screen to show the apology of the belligerence held between different people, groups or nations. The facts reflect the social and political state lived during the period of conflict to exalt or disapprove the actions taken during the historical events.

The war genre leads filmmakers to reflect on the importance and validity of wars in the world; at the same time they reflect historical documents of events that are part of human history and shape the current world. However, these events cannot be considered reliable, since they are produced by one of the parties involved in the historical moment; however, they are elements of reflection on the actions and actions of the inhabitants of the earth to evolve in the processes of coexistence and improvement of social and political systems.


Already in the Spanish civil war, both sides used artists for communication work or the reinforcement of the morale of combatants and civilians, but it was the rebel side, which thanks to the strongest German influence, bet on celluloid as a channel for the distribution of their doctrines.

During the Second World War, the belligerent countries continued to use the big screen as a way of transmitting to their troops and inhabitants the course of the campaign and awareness of the needs for victory in the conflict. These messages, generally in the form of news, made a qualitative leap in the United States, where it was decided to use the enormous potential offered by Hollywood, as a giant advertising agency.

After the war, the war genre lost its strength and it was not until after a few years, when in the 60s a series of big productions that recreated the great battles of the conflict, revitalized this type of cinema again. The films of this era no longer emphasize sacrifice, although they continue to show their protagonists as heroes convinced of the goodness of their beliefs and sure that they are doing the right thing to improve the world.


The warlike gender represents the armed conflicts and facts of strategic and tactical military during the conflicts in the battlefield where spies and defenders of armies arise who use their military techniques to defeat the enemy.


The representation of the warlike characters are characterized by the expression of feelings of power or humility. This is how we see heartless, intriguing and fearless men who seek to destroy their adversaries. Likewise, antagonists emerge who seek the benefit of the collective and are victims of the subjugators they face. These actions represent the antagonism of the violence and injustice experienced by each of the actors in the conflict. However, there is an exaltation of brotherhood and solidarity to emerge in the face of warlike adversity.

“Childhood is measured through sounds, smells and observations, before the dark shadow of reason appears” John Betjeman – With this phrase he begins this whole story that involves us in the time of the Second World War, where Bruno, an 8 year old boy, son of a Nazi officer, grew up with his family in Berlin at this time, together with his 12 year old sister Gretel and his parents.

One day, he comes back from school playing with his friends and finds himself celebrating at home for reasons he doesn’t quite understand. His father, who was promoted to commander because of his work during the war, must move to the concentration camp, outside Berlin, forcing Bruno to leave his school and his friends. All this creates a fear that becomes stronger when he arrives at the isolated and fearful camp, which is very difficult for him to get used to.

As the days go by, the tension in the family grows, and Bruno finds it difficult to adapt to that desolate place, to the incomprehensible teachings of his tutor and to the absence of his good friends. Unlike his sister, Gretel, who is happy about the changes and is immersed in this new place with her dolls and delighted to talk every day with the attractive Lieutenant Kotler, one of his father’s men.

One day, Bruno is intrigued by the strange landscape that can be seen from the window of his room, which he manages to describe as a farm with strange people wearing striped pajamas. He lets his mother know, who is naive about what is going on, that it is a labor camp and asks her to forget about it and also forbids her to go there.

It was inevitable that Bruno would meet someone from that place who intrigued him so much, and he meets Pavel, a sad old man who works as an assistant in the kitchen, wearing an apron that barely covered the “striped pajamas” that Bruno had described earlier. While Bruno’s mother is away, Bruno has a little accident on the swing and cuts his knee, and Pavel is the one who goes to his aid, and it is when he has a conversation with the curious boy, who without understanding why Pavel only peels potatoes when he tells him he was practicing medicine. After that moment his mother, a little uncomfortable, thanks Pavel for helping to treat Bruno’s wound, but confronts her husband for not saying they would be so close to that place.

After several days, Bruno defies his mother’s order not to go near “the farm” and decides to cross the door to the backyard that leads to that place. After the long journey he arrives at the strange place, encountering a wire fence, in which, there was another boy on the other side, with the curious striped pajamas and crestfallen, his name was Shmuel. Bruno was so happy to find a new friend to talk to, that he decided to visit him every day hiding from his mother, bringing her some food, as he was always very hungry.

Bruno’s life becomes more and more disturbing, his tutor has more drastic teachings about the Jews, but no matter what, the friendship between Bruno and Shmuel becomes much stronger. Everything is complicated by an uncomfortable interrogation by his father, by an unpleasant comment in the form of a joke to his mother, about the smoke coming out of the chimneys of the camp, which makes him aware of the reality of that camp which they disguise with a repulsive Nazi commercial.

In addition to the strange surroundings in her family, her sister, Gretel, also undergoes a strange change of attitude influenced by the suffocating lessons of her tutor and her attraction to Lieutenant Kotler. She fills her walls with Nazi posters, gets rid of her dolls and begins to have a much more aggressive attitude. Bruno hears strange stories from Shmuel that take place behind the wire and really doubts whether his father is a good man.

Bruno and Shmuel meet inside the house, as Shmuel is cleaning the glassware with his little fingers, and Bruno gives him a piece of bread, and is found by Lieutenant Kotler, who is hysterically angry and takes him for a thief. Although Shmuel tells him that it was Bruno, his friend, who gave him that piece of bread, he, influenced by fear, totally denies that he is his friend and that he gave him that piece of bread. After several days of going to the field and not finding Shmuel to apologize, I finally saw him with blows on his face and later they resume their friendship after an apology.

Meanwhile, the relationship between their parents becomes much more chaotic, and their father decides to send them back to a new place, far away from there. The move that Bruno had desperately wanted since they arrived became painful for him, as he did not want to leave his new friend. Before leaving, Bruno learns that Shmuel’s father has been missing for days, and as a last favour of friendship before leaving to make up for what happened to Lieutenant Kotler, he decides to help him search, and decides to draw up a plan with his friend, who gives him a uniform to pass the wire. It is there that his mother realizes that Bruno is missing, and begins a desperate race to see that the back garden door was open, while Bruno, along with Shmuel, do not know their fate after crossing the fence.



The main character of the story is 8 years old, he is a quite restless boy, he likes adventure stories, exploring, making friends and he is very curious.

He is a child who is on the other side of the fence in the field and is the same age as Bruno. He is Jewish, is detained in the camp with his family and must wear “striped pyjamas” worn by other prisoners with an identifying number. They become very good friends after Bruno visits him every day and brings him food.

The mother (Elsa)
Bruno and Gretel’s mother is a woman of subtle character who silently resists having to move her family to her husband’s workplace. She is quite obedient to the rules imposed in the house, until she discovers the dark reality of the place where they are and her subtlety changes to being overbearing and intolerant.

The father (Ralph)
As the story begins, Bruno’s father has been promoted from soldier to commander. He is appointed to lead Auschwitz, which he must then move with his family to the camp. Despite being very absent for his family, he has their respect, until it is discovered what he tried to hide from his entire family. He is cruel and cold with regard to his position and the treatment of anyone who disagrees with the nation’s policies.

She is the family’s nanny, has a very sweet personality and often talks to Bruno.

An elderly Jewish man, a prisoner in the camp, who had previously been a doctor. He is a servant in Bruno’s family home. After he spilled Lieutenant Kotler’s wine, and was beaten by him, he is never seen again.

Lieutenant Kotler
One of the Nazi soldiers with a rather cruel attitude, who is in charge of Ralph. He befriends Gretel and Bruno’s mother because he is always available to help them, but he has earned Bruno’s dislike because of his attitude. He is forced to leave because he did not inform his superior that his father was a traitor to the nation.

Bruno’s sister, who is 12 years old In the course of history, she goes from being a very tender and spiritual child who plays with her dolls all day, to following the progress of the war with maps and studying the history of Germany with a remarkable change of attitude.

Herr Liszt
He is the tutor who arrives on a rusty bicycle, hired to teach Gretel and Bruno about German history and geography and indoctrinate them with the ideas of the Nazi party.

Grandpa (Matthias)
Ralph’s father supporting his promotion to Commander. He is in favor of Ralph being prominent in his work, as he is also a supporter of Nazism.

Grandmother (Natthalie)
Ralph’s mother is upset when she learns of his promotion to Major and regrets making him costumes during his childhood. She is in complete disagreement with Ralph’s work.

Human Rights in the Film

It is clear that the film shows different aspects of how the right to life, freedom and personal integrity were violated during World War II, just because you are a Jew. The German government strongly discriminated against anyone who went against its policies and who was also Jewish. As a result, anyone who was discovered was subjected to slavery and labor exploitation. Countless Jews died in the concentration camps.

We highlight the main rights that were violated during this period:

Political rights:
The right to democracy, at that time it was not possible for people from lower ranks to decide and make decisions.
The right to free expression of power was violated when only one command could make all the decisions, regardless of what the others thought.
A political right that is violated is that of the Jews, since they are not allowed to participate in political life, Image: when they are captured to be taken to the concentration camp.

Social rights:
The right to an education in schools and not to be deprived of it for only one or two people, since one should have the right to interact with other fellow students. This was when Bruno and his sister were hired as private tutors.

The right to be free to interact with other people, to have friends to share with. This happens when Bruno’s father decides to change cities, to go to a concentration camp without access to anyone, friends, neighbors and totally isolated from society.

The right to free expression, to say what we think, or to do what we like. When Bruno had his tutor he forced him to read everything about geography and history and he liked adventure stories.

The Jews were denied conditions of access to a dignified life, nor did they have the guarantee of real equality and freedom, since freedom is not possible if it is impossible to exercise it because of the material conditions of existence, Image: When they are beaten and enslaved to do work that was not for the purpose of taking back the objective of exterminating them.

Human rights:
Right to justice, this happens when all Jews are classified as enemies, knowing that there were good Jews who were not to blame for that war.
Law: Equality, the treatment they gave to employees when they didn’t do their job well or when they were no longer useful to them, are also human beings who not only because they are Jewish had to be treated this way.
The right to life is seen when they used these towers to burn alive Jews who were no longer useful, all because they were enemies of the nation.
Human rights were violated in their entirety because Jews, for the simple reason of being Jews, were already being discriminated against by society, subjecting them to the worst humiliations and violence: When Esmuel was beaten by Lieutenant Kotler

In front of the scenes shown in the film and confronting everything with the current reality, it is evident how all known rights are being violated. These include: the right to life, the right to dignity and good treatment, since they were treated like slaves. In many countries that claim to be free and have democratic states, they violate such necessary rights as free assembly, integrity, free expression, or security. This is reflected in governments that think only of power, of having most of the country’s wealth while others starve or are killed innocently.

Analysis of the historical-social situation in which the film takes place


During the Second World War, the Germans committed one of the worst crimes of all time: the Holocaust, which involved the murder of 8.93 million Jews. But what we want to know is the reason for this great crime.
The Germans participated in the First World War from which they emerged as losers because they were affected by a great internal political and economic crisis. By losing this first war, the countries that opposed Germany imposed a great debt on it, which consisted of paying almost all the economic losses of the first world war, which caused Germany to fall into a great social crisis later on. Within this great social crisis, nationalist ideas were encouraged and grew, and racism increased enormously, which caused a Nazi leader named Adolf Hitler to make the Germans increase their hatred toward other peoples who made them pay an unjust cost for a war that they had not begun. All this caused the Nazis to take over Germany, to stop paying the money they found unjust and to channel all their hatred towards the races they found impure because their ideology gave them the conviction that the only pure race was that of the Germans which was superior to all other races in the world.

This great crime called holocaust was committed under these circumstances. The Nazis who had the power took revenge mainly on the Jews who according to their ideology were the lowest of all races and the most impure and had no rights. For this reason they locked them up in the concentration camps where they made them work in inhumane conditions where they gave them so little food that they suffered obvious symptoms of malnutrition. The film takes place in a place near Auschwitz where the father of the family was in charge of directing this inhumane cause there.

One person who clearly reflects the Nazi ideology in the film is a military man who helps his father and who treats the Jews in the house, whom Bruno calls farmers, in an unworthy manner. Bruno becomes friends with a Jew of his own age named Shmuel. Bruno becomes his friend but for him and for Shmuel it will have very negative repercussions. One day when Shmuel was at Bruno’s house cleaning some glasses for his mother, Bruno feeds him, which causes Shmuel to get a big beating and Bruno refuses to meet the boy as he fears his own fate.

All these events in the film make us think how terrible the holocaust must have been for the Jews.

The Jewish people are characterized by being a very believing people and attached to their religion, by their pride and their humility.

In the time of the Second World War, he lived through one of the worst events that can happen to a people, the holocaust. In this era, Germans considered them a very inferior race that could use them to recover what they had lost because of other countries in the First World War. At this time they suffered humiliations and abuses that are unimaginable for us who are used to living in a society protected by human rights.

The abuse of Jews by the Nazis seemed almost daily in the concentration camps and even seemed to be accepted as a normal practice within them.
After the end of World War II, the Jewish people were greatly harmed, but the world began to see the reality of what had happened in Europe in that period of time, which left many negative and positive repercussions. Among the positive ones, it is worth mentioning that since the Second World War, peace began to be encouraged and human rights were strongly imposed. Among other things, there was also the great change of the Germans who realized the great damage they had done.

Conclusion and personal opinion

Inequality in race, religion, culture and customs has always been seen. That in life both in the past and in the present human rights have been violated. In most cases, innocent people have paid the price for wrong or cruel decisions.

had a relationship with the reality of the Jewish Holocaust (1933-1945) perpetrated by members of the Nazi party led by Adolf Hitler in Germany. The film itself was taken from the book of the same name by the Irish author Jhon Boyne, in which the main characters are two children, Bruno and Shmuel; German and Jewish respectively. The political and racially discriminatory differences at the time did not allow Aryan Germans to associate with Jews; otherwise they were sent to extermination or concentration camps. The context of the film takes place in the context of World War II. Bruno’s father, upon being promoted to the highest rank of Nazi officer, is forced with his family to move from Berlin to Auschwitz, which was a concentration and extermination camp for Jews and other opponents of the “Third Reich” regime located in Poland, where he will occupy a position that requires a lot of responsibility and is kept secret from his wife and children, giving all his collaboration to the Fürher (Adolf Hitler) to carry out activities for the final solution. The whole family is excited about the news and they accept to go except for Bruno who did not want to leave his home, his school and his friends. When Bruno arrived at the new house, he saw from his room a “farm” with strange looking and silent people; he always asked about that place until one day he decided to go alone, while walking through the woods he had fun exploring what he found. Then, he comes to see some electric fences to a very pale, sad and lonely “farmer” boy in striped pajamas sitting on the rubble. From the other side of the fence; he sees him, introduces himself and calls out his names. The boy in striped pajamas tells him that his name is Shmuel, so that for Bruno it was the first time he heard a name like that, and the same thing is expressed by his new acquaintance. However, they become confident and talk about their families, their situation and even the number on their pajamas. Until a call came and Shmuel had to leave. It is the beginning of a great friendship that will go through some of the greatest challenges in wartime “surviving” and facing danger. It is one of the most moving stories brought to the cinema, showing the barbarity and innocence of human beings as in this case is of children who are the perfect target to suffer in wars. It conveys a message not to commit another Holocaust and therefore not to let ourselves be influenced by hatred that only brings destruction without any good result. Bruno and Shmuel teach us that true friendship is about being loyal to the end regardless of differences in age, race, religion and gender.