A Minor Gem, 11 October 2009
Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Director and writer Mark Herman already has very fine writing credentials,arguably his best work to date being “Brassed Off”, set amidst the Miners strike. Herman’s humanity shines through again in this compelling tale of a concentration camp seen through a child’s eyes.
The power of this work lies in the fact that it is told, and shot, as a children’s film, yet the story covers the darkest period in modern Western History. The central figure is eight year old Bruno, son of the Camp Commandant.He builds up an innocent youthful friendship with child internee Shmuel against a dark backdrop of implied and overt maltreatment of the other Jews.
This light, simplistic tale on the one hand is as lightly told as “The Sound of Music” but comes with a twist as dark and profound as you could wish for.I found the plummy English accents grating set in an all German environment. Yet sub-titles would have massively reduced the film’s marketability and cod – German accents could have been just as irritating.
Vera Farmiga delivers a marvellously nuanced performance as Bruno’s mother,and David Hayman’s Pavel, the Jewish Servant is achingly tragic. This film is a wonderful introduction to any child to the grim reality of this part of human history.At times it teeters close to being too twee, pandering to the kids audience on one hand, then doesn’t quite swing the hammer blows that the story deserves, yet still triumphs through understatement.
A classic that will be shown for years to come