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Review" Boy in Stripped Pyjamas

Updated on January 15, 2019
Hadia Malik profile image

I am doing my Bachelors in Peace and Conflict Studies from National Defense University Islamabad

The boy in the striped pyjamas is a movie based on world war II era and the Holocaust. It revolves around the lives of two 8-year-old boys, one of which is a jew from a concentration camp named Schmull and the other is a son of a Nazi officer named Bruno. The movie shows, however, the whole world is in chaos, how there is a war and the factions the two children belong to are the worst of enemies but their innocence sees past all these problems. Their friendship flourishes overtime even after Bruno finds out his friend is a jew, the people he has been told are the enemy ever since he was little.

The Doctor

Little Bruno gets injured while playing in the garden and the jew who works in his kitchen gives him first aid. Bruno keeps on saying he needs to see a doctor because it can be serious but the Jew refuses to say it’s not needed when Bruno asks how he would know, the jew replies “I am a doctor”. This scene shows how the jews had perfectly successful lives before the Nazis took over and destroyed their lives.

They're not Really Humans

In this scene, Bruno asks his father if he could go and play with the kids in the farm to which his father replies, no because they are not really humans. This scene shows how Nazis didn’t even consider the Jews as humans which made it so much easier for them to carry out these atrocities. Bruno’s mother who has been trying to shelter her son from all this fights with his father about how he claimed they would be far far away but instead, there was one in their kitchen.

When The Burn

Bruno’s mother returns home after a day out when she smells a horrible smell as clouds of smoke rise above the trees. As she is trying to figure out what the horrible smell could be, a soldier who works at their house says “they smell even worse when they burn don’t they” leaving her petrified. She runs to her husband and has a complete breakdown, screaming how this is inhumane, it’s not a part of war but her argument is ignored. This scene showed how when the concentration camps overflowed, the Nazis burned the Jews alive in furnaces.

I'm A Jew

Even when Shmall and Bruno become friends, Bruno is unaware that Shmall is a jew and that Bruno has been visiting a concentration camp every day. However, one day when he finds out he doesn’t understand how he should react and runs back home. Since at home he was continuously being told that Jews are bad, he was unable to comprehend that how could his friend be so bad that he couldn’t even be considered human by his people.

Rats Who Steal

After a couple of days, Bruno comes to the dining room to find his friend Shmall wiping the glasses clean. He asks him if he is hungry, when shmall nods, Bruno gives him some pastries that are on the table. However, as soon as Shmall begins to eat a soldier comes in and screams at Shmall for stealing. Though Shmall claims Bruno gave him the food, however, Bruno declines when the soldier screams at him. Although Bruno feels horrible for betraying his friend, he was scared he would be punished for being a traitor of the nation.

Rats Who Steal

After the whole incident that happened with Shmall at Bruno’s home, he feels horrible. So he goes to the concentration camp to visit his friend and apologise. When he reaches he finds an injured Shmall. Upon inquiry, he finds out that Shmall was beaten by the soldier for stealing a pastry. Bruno apologises, explaining how he was terrified thus lied. Shmall forgives him and they become friends again.


In this scene, the two friends are seen playing checkers across the fence of the concentration camp. Shmall instructs Bruno about what moves he should make on Shmall’s behalf. This scene shows how the war did not matter to these children, how the war had not taken away their innocence yet. They were just two young kids who were enjoying life.

The Ending

As the movie reaches its end, Shmall seems to not be able to find his father so Bruno decides to help find his father before he leaves for Belgium. Shmall brings him the pajamas that he wears so that Bruno does not stand out. However, when they reach Shmalls cabin, the nazi’s soldiers force them and other jew prisoners into the furnace. They are told they are being taken for a “shower” on the other hand Bruno’s family finds out he is missing so his mother tells his father who instantly goes to the concentration camp with several of his soldiers. However, by the time they reach, Bruno and Shmall have already been burned along with the other jews and their smoke goes up.

Moral of the Story

Moral of the story is what goes around comes around. Bruno’s father burned thousands of Jews in his service and took pride in doing it, thus his son got burned the same way at the end of the movie.


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