Saturday, September 19, 2009

Food for Thought

I watched the best movie the other night, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, starring Asa Butterfield as Bruno, son of Nazi SS officer and Jack Scanlon as Schmuel, the young Jewish boy on the other side of the fence. This movie is based on a novel by Irish author John Boyne and was released in the United States in November of 2008. I'm not sure how I first heard about it, but it eventually ended up on my Netflix list and ultimately in my mail box.

It's exactly the kind of film I enjoy, one that causes me to think; it is well photographed and nicely acted with just the right amount of dialog leaving the viewer to fill in the lines upspoken. When I went to get some more background on the film I was astonished to find that the book was steeped in great controversy from Rabbi Benjamin Blech who condemned it saying, "This book is not just a lie and not just a fairytale, but a profanation", coming under similar attacks much like those suffered on Steven Spielberg's Schlinder's List.

If you go to the library you will find the book listed under fiction, it is a novel. There are people however who, I think, believe that any story based on the Holocaust must be 100% factual in substance. But I think if you can tell a story about a horrible occurrence in history and put a twist in the story that, if only for a short period, gives the characters cause to think about what they have done you have succeeded in providing food for thought to the viewers.

I don't find it hard to believe that two young eight year old boys, Bruno and Schmuel could become friends. Rabbi Blech believes differently, but the Rabbi and I certainly have had different life experiences. Does it matter that as the Rabbi states there were no nine year old Jewish boys in Auschwitz? The fact that there was Auschwitz and gassings is fact enough for me to be able to watch this movie and wonder what might have been if more people had spoken up at the time and not turned a blind eye to what was going on around them.

If your heart tells you something is wrong, whether it is a manner of speaking, a joke, mistreatment of another individual, we have a right, a duty, to speak up, take action. Turning a blind eye and remaining silent will not suffice. It wasn't good enough then and it isn't good enough now.


  1. I also rented the movie a few months ago and I agree with you. It should be on the required movie list for all high school students.