Sociological Movie Review: Boy in the Striped Pajamas

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Sociological Movie Review The movie that I watched that has many references to our introduction to sociology course is The Boy In the Striped Pajamas. The Boy In the Striped Pajamas is about a little 8 year old boy named Bruno who must move to the country side with his family because his father who is a General in the Nazi military becomes assigned command of a Jewish concentration camp. The house that the family moves into is close to the concentration camp; Bruno can see the camp from his bedroom window in the distance.

Bruno does not realize it is a concentration camp, he believes it is a farm. He sees a little boy sitting down at the camp and asks his mother if he may play with the boy in the striped pajamas. Of course his mother realizes what he is speaking about and forbids him to play out back or to go exploring in the country. Bruno finds a way out into the back and goes to the camp where he meets Schmuel (the boy in the striped pajamas). They become friends and Bruno sneaks him food each time he comes for a visit.

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Bruno asks his dad about the people at the farm and the dad says, “Those people aren’t really people at all. ” One day Schmuel is sent to Bruno’s house to clean the crystal. Bruno is excited to see Schmuel in his house. They are caught talking and Schmuel gets in trouble. When Bruno is asked if he knows Schmuel, Bruno says no for fear of getting in trouble. A few days later Bruno goes back to the camp to apologize to Schmuel and tell him that he is moving away. Schmuel is very sad as he tells Bruno that he can’t seem to find his dad.

Bruno comes up with a plan that he will disguise himself as one of the Jewish campers and dig under the fence to help Schmuel find his dad before he leaves. So the next day Schmuel meets Bruno at the fence with a pair of striped pajamas and Bruno digs a hole big enough for him to crawl into the camp. Bruno put on the striped pajamas and was amazed at his realization about what camp life was really like. Bruno told Schmuel that he thought he should go home but remembered his promise to help Schmuel find his father.

Schmuel and Bruno went into one of the huts to look for his father when a group of Nazi soldiers came into the hut and gathered up all of the Jewish occupants. Bruno and Schmuel were taken with the group to the gas chamber. By the time Bruno’s parents had figured out what was going on it was too late. Bruno and Schmuel had held hands together in the gas chamber until the very end. The reason this movie relates so strongly to sociological concepts is because it incorporates cultures, gender identity, sexism, racial and ethnic diversity, as well as aging and dying.

In the movie The Boy In the Striped Pajamas there are many cultures represented. The little boy Bruno must live within the mix of these cultures. Thio states that “Culture is a design for living or, more precisely, a complex whole consisting of objects, values, and other characteristics that people aquire as members of a society” (43). Each of the cultures represented in this movie have different beliefs and values. The first culture represented was the Germans, who believed as a whole that the Jewish people were all bad.

They believed that taking the Jewish people from their homes and sending them away to concentration camps would make their lives better. In the beginning of the movie there is a scene where Nazi soldiers were gathering up Jewish people and sending them away. The next culture present in the movie is the Jewish culture. These people believe they have done nothing to deserve what is happening to them. When Bruno first meets Schmuel at the camp he asks if the barbed wire is to stop the animals from getting out. Schmuel replies,” It’s to stop me from getting out. ” Bruno says, “What have you done? Schmuel then replies, “I’m a Jew. ” The very last culture and social group present in this movie is the German Military. The German Military is indeed a social group in the movie. A social group according to Thio is “a collection of people who interact with one another and have a certain feeling of unity” (112). The German Military is also a social category; which is groups of people that have something in common. The German Military all believed in doing their job and what they were told to do. They were trained to follow orders and not ask questions; which is what the father did.

When confronted by his wife about the job he was assigned to do, he said, “I was sworn to secrecy and took an oath to work for my country. ” The culture of the German Military in this movie was that all the soldiers were clean cut, shaven, always in the Nazi uniform, and always followed the commands given by their superiors. Gender issues were also prevalent in this movie. In the beginning of the movie Bruno is playing with his friends before moving to the country. They are playing soldier and pretending to shoot and kill each other, while his sister Gretel was playing with her dolls.

Mom is seen coming home from a shopping trip with some packages. Gender roles are “patterns of attitude and behavior that a society expects of its members because they are female or male” (Thio, 224). Throughout the movie gender roles are seen as the mom stays home and takes care of the children while the dad is working. As well Gretel the sister is always portrayed as sweet while Bruno is portrayed as an adventurous boy who likes soldiers. Men are also portrayed as strong, while the women in the movie are portrayed as weak. Racial and ethnic diversity is a major theme for this movie.

The Germans were very racist against the Jewish people. They believed that their race was superior over any other race and so they began by expelling the Jewish people and placing them in concentration camps. Bruno’s dad tells him “those people aren’t really people at all. ” Then they exterminated the Jewish people simply due to the fact that they were afraid of the differences between them. Too bad that the dad in the movie didn’t listen to the mother when she had her concerns about what was occurring at the camp. It cost many lives including their sons.

There were many stereotypes of the Jewish people. The tutor in the movie told Bruno, “If you ever find a nice Jew you would be the best explorer that ever lived. ” The tutor taught the children that the Jewish race had corrupted Germany and that they are the enemy of culture. When the mother realized what was going on at the camps she was once again shown as a weak person where the father was shown as a tough and strong soldier. Aging is another issue brought to light in this movie. In the beginning when the General receives his promotion the family throws a party for him.

His mother and father are present at this party. The General’s mother does not agree with the Nazi government about what is happening with expulsion and extermination of the Jewish people. She asks him if his uniform still makes him feel important in a sarcastic manner. The General comments that she should keep her opinions to herself and not say them out in public. He also acts as if she is too old to have opinions that count. Thio states that “the society’s definition of aging also influences the impact of aging on mental ability,” (242).

The General was using the age of his mother as a basis for whether or not he would listen to her opinion of the war and the steps that Germany was taking. It is also this writers belief that the General was sexist because he wouldn’t listen to his mother due to the fact that she was a women and he believed she didn’t or couldn’t possibly know anything about current events or the war. It seemed his belief was the current events were for men and cooking and tending to the children was for women. When his mother died at the funeral he did not cry while his wife did.

Bruno did not cry, however Gretel did. This is another aspect of Gender roles. Women are always expected to be emotional beings while men are expected to be strong. The media played a major role in what the German culture believed and knew regarding the way of life on the concentration camps. Bruno spies a video that the Nazi government is putting out regarding the concentration camp life that makes the camp actually look like fun. It says that when the Jewish workers have finished work they get to eat in the cafe, they play games, and have music concerts from guest performers.

They do not show or allow the German citizens know what is actually occurring at the camps. The concentration camps are actually coercive organizations that would use physical force on those living there. In one scene a concentration camp worker Pavlov accidently spilled some wine at dinner. He was taken and beaten for his mistake. This movie is a plethora of sociological concepts interwoven together. It seems in almost every scene of this movie there was a concepts or series of concepts shown.

There may have been many more sociological aspects within the movie, but these were the main highlights that I have found. It was a very rewarding experience to be able to watch the movie and then figure out sociological concepts that I had witnessed within the movie. I do not think that I will be able to look at situations that I witness or movies that I see the same way again. I now have a sociological view of the world around me. Works Cited The Boy In the Striped Pajamas. DVD. Prod. Mark Herman. Miramax, 2008. 94 minutes. Thio, A. Sociology: A Brief Introduction. 7th. Allyn & Bacon. Pearson Education, 2009.

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