Complete A-Z list

Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, The


Stars: Asa Butterfield, Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Amber Beattie, Jack Scanlon, Richard Johnson, Sheila Hancock

Director: Mark Herman

This is a Disney movie with a catchy title, but take care before you take younger children. It's a film all responsible junior schoolers should see, but it's no picnic.

It's the early 1940s and Bruno (Butterfield) is an eight-year-old German boy living a high-society life in Berlin with his parents and 12-year-old sister Gretel (Beattie) until his family, headed by Mum (Farmiga) and her officer husband (Thewlis) is forced to move - to a forbidding grey house in the country where soldiers are everywhere.

Unbeknown to Bruno, Dad is commandant of the local concentration camp, which is much nearer to the house than Mum has been told. So, while Gretel succumbs to the Nazi doctrine, Bruno is off on his own, foraging through the forbidden rear garden into the woods and stream that divide the house from the camp. Once at the barbed wire, he meets Schmuel (Scanlon), an eight-year-old Jewish boy who, like the rest of the doomed inmates, wears 'striped pyjamas'.

It would be wise not to expect a happy ending here, and the uncompromising finale left an audience of critics silent throughout the credits. The film itself is hardly top-notch, with Thewlis struggling to show the human side of a basically evil character. But at the same time, it is instructional and thought-provoking. Bravo to Disney studios for backing that.

David Quinlan

UK/Hungary 2008. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour by deluxe.
94 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 08 Sep 2008