User Score
7.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 96 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 96
  2. Negative: 8 out of 96
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  1. Aug 7, 2014
    2
    I give this movie a two simply because I made it to the end without shutting it off and because I truly believe the message was no one is born with a predisposition for hate by showing World War Two from the perspective of children. Terribly inaccurate and unrealistic. Holocaust fantasy movies should not exist.
  2. Sep 4, 2010
    0
    I admit I only saw this movie on DVD...and am really embarrassed. When it's all good intentions, but deeply unhistorical, you probably have to call it a kitsch feast. But then again, given the earnest and sensitive subject. I'd rather call it stupid and obscene. Nazi officials during the war, dancing to English swing music...had always thought that members of the illegal "swing youth" wereI admit I only saw this movie on DVD...and am really embarrassed. When it's all good intentions, but deeply unhistorical, you probably have to call it a kitsch feast. But then again, given the earnest and sensitive subject. I'd rather call it stupid and obscene. Nazi officials during the war, dancing to English swing music...had always thought that members of the illegal "swing youth" were imprisoned and persecuted. A Nazi family praying in public! A Jewish boy playing by the fence, when in all the camps, approaching the fence meant being shot. No fairy tales about the holocaust, please. Expand
  3. PeteT
    May 2, 2009
    1
    Awful, awful, awful. I'm not heartless. Parts of it are touching of course, but it's terribly done. It's like Shindler's List for kids, expect I'd never show it to kids (and I'm a teacher).
  4. David
    Nov 16, 2008
    0
    This film should not have been made. Although it's intentions were good, the end result was not good.
  5. May 23, 2015
    3
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Father has an important job to do, that is why he wears a grey uniform with lots of pips and stripes and a death's head on his cap. It is such a pretty uniform and it's such a nice house and everyone is so nice, so typical Arian nice(pigtails).
    Well outwardly because underneath it all the perfect Nazi family has troubles(they have to). Nevertheless son Bruno happily goes out exploring and meets this other boy near a barb wired fence. Bruno at one side, in his typical little boys outfit, and Shmuel at the other side, in his striped pyjamas. Lucky for the story there is just one fence, and not three as at Auschwitz and, as the script will have it, there are no guards intervening in the broad daylight meetings. A relation develops. One eight year old boy belonging to the master race, and the other eight year old boy from the subhuman race, bonding, just like normal boys do everywhere..
    Of course it had to end bad. Bruno digs a hole under the fence and joins Shmuel at the other side(why not the other way around?), and then together they are marched of to the showers. Father is too late to intervene. A stack of clothes is all that is left of little Bruno.
    I wonder what would have happened if Father had made it in time? Get Bruno out, spank him for being disobedient and then send him to bed without dinner? Would he have ordered Shmuel released or have him beaten to death for luring his Arian son into a lethal situation?
    And then what happens?
    Does father quit his job now he realizes what horrible things he does? Does mamma divorce him or curse him for the rest of his life?
    Has he all the Jews released?
    Does he kill himself?
    Does he kill Himmler?
    What impact has this?

    It is hard to judge a movie that means well, but is it really necessary to make up an unlikely story because you want to get the point across that killing people in extermination camps is bad? What is exactly the point of this particular story? Why does it exist? Is it made because it is more horrid that eight year old boys get gassed? Is it made because sweet little Arian Bruno get's gassed by accident?
    And why have the boys killed at all?
    Cause that is better?
    Perhaps it would have been better if father had intervened in time or a guard:. "Hey, aren't you the camp commandant's son?" And Bruno gets pulled away from Shmuel, survives and now knows what a horrible man his father is and what is even more: his father knows he knows. Each look into Bruno's eyes will be a mirror to his own abject debasement. Too late Hoess(Auschwitz commander) to confess at your trial that what you did is bad after you killed a million people or so people. Far too late: they shouldn't have allowed you to confess at all.
    But perhaps even more eyeopening would have been: Bruno totally indoctrinated by the Nazi lifestyle does not realize at all what is going on. Why should he? He is eight, he has been part of the Nazi culture all his life: he knows no other world: "Just spare Shmuel, dad. He is my friend, not like the rest of them." or "Son, it has to be done.. it is better for the world. Sometimes we have to do things we don't like for the good of the whole.."
    And then the cute Jewish boy gets gassed anyway.
    And it makes Bruno an emotional timebomb. Everyday his father looks at his son and wonders..at what age will he realize that what I did is horrible?
    And if you were making fantasy stories anyway.. why not make a perfect Arian family? Just like their propaganda wanted you to belief? The contrast between this perfect well functioning beautiful totally Nazi family and the situation in the death camps would have been bigger. And once Bruno knows.. then have the troubles start.
    Or not.
    Why not have Bruno forget about Shmuel and have the happy Nazi family go on with their perfect life deliberately oblivious to what is happening some hundred meters away from them, because they do not want to know. Like was typical in Germany?
    And perhaps they have Shmuel for their pet Jewish houseboy? The only Jew to survive because he is the friend of Bruno and once Bruno has enough of him...
    Now that would have been a chilling movie.
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Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 28
  2. Negative: 5 out of 28
  1. Boyne's tale is starkly cautionary, and writer-director Herman handles a difficult topic with great sensitivity, drawing splendid performances from his young actors with David Thewlis and Vera Farmiga and the other grown-ups reliably efficient.
  2. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    Opening half-hour has some of the best stuff in the movie, walking a precarious line between black irony and showing the war from a totally German viewpoint, without tipping over into gallows humor or parody.
  3. 63
    The Boy in the Striped Pajamas should be heartbreaking, but it isn't. The muted quality of its impact is the result of narrative shortcuts and a desire to keep the images from being too startling.