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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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A lovely adaptation by British filmmaker Mark Herman (Little Voice) of a novel by Irish author John Boyne, a fable about an 8-year-old German boy, Bruno (Asa Butterfield), whose father, Ralf (David Thewlis), is an ambitious Nazi kommandant. The family relocates from its comfortable Berlin mansion to “the countryside” (actually Poland) after his father is promoted to a position overseeing a concentration camp (Auschwitz, though never named; in the book Bruno understands it as “Out-With”). Bruno, an imaginative child who wants to become an explorer, is unhappy in the isolation of their gloomy new home. His child’s mind doesn’t grasp the horrors of the Nazi atrocities happening in his country and backyard; he wonders about the nearby “farm” and its inhabitants who wear “pajamas” (striped prison uniforms with numbers). Shot in Budapest, the movie is impeccably made, with fine performances and lapidary cinematography by Benoit Delhomme. HHH 1/2

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