Film Fest Friday: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


My mom has reached the point in her life where she can no longer read or watch anything related to Vietnam or the Holocaust. It’s just too emotionally overwhelming, and she chooses to avoid it. While I can understand that completely, I hope that I never reach that point myself. I want to be overwhelmed by things. I think emotion is a powerful teaching tool. Once we avoid, eventually we forget. We can’t let that happen. So I think it’s necessary to keep watching and reading and remembering so we can teach others who are more distant due to age.

I heard someone say that the generation coming up in school now is the first one that is “once removed” from the horrors of the Holocaust. My generation has at least had the opportunity to meet and speak directly to people who were involved in that time period. Our grandparents fought in the war. I think it’s our responsibility to not let future generations avoid these things.

My grandfather died several years ago, but he used to tell me stories about Japan. He was a member of the first battalion of Military Police in Hiroshima after the bomb,  required to go door-to-door to the homes of survivors, collecting any weapons they may have owned. They had mostly knives; hardly any guns. People handed over ancient, family-heirloom Samurai swords without hesitation. That was one of the only stories he was willing to tell about being in the war that involved any specific memories. He tried to keep those conversations pretty vague and general, and that usually minimized the number of questions one could ask. He also liked to talk about the more “fun” aspects of being in the Army. He tasted sake for the first time in Japan and learned to drink steaming hot coffee in New Guinea to cool off — a trick we used in Brazil using hot black tea instead of coffee. It totally works.

Today’s movie selection was adapted from a novel of the same name. I can’t really go into too much detail about the plot because it will be too easy to give it all away. It’s best to watch this without really knowing anything about it first. All I can say is, I watch a lot of Holocaust films and read a lot of Holocaust books, and this is one of the most powerful things I’ve ever experienced. Please watch it, and then make sure you tell others to watch it, so that they tell others to watch it. It is unforgettable.


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