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The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (original title)
PG-13 | | Drama, War | 26 November 2008 (USA)
2:15 | Trailer

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Set during WWII, a story seen through the innocent eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a German concentration camp, whose forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence has startling and unexpected consequences.



(novel), (screenplay)
889 ( 270)
7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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When an open-minded Jewish librarian and his son become victims of the Holocaust, he uses a perfect mixture of will, humor and imagination to protect his son from the dangers around their camp.

Director: Roberto Benigni
Stars: Roberto Benigni, Nicoletta Braschi, Giorgio Cantarini


Cast overview, first billed only:
Zac Mattoon O'Brien ...
Leon (as Zac Mattoon-O'Brien)
Domonkos Németh ...
Henry Kingsmill ...
Zsuzsa Holl ...
Berlin Cook
László Áron ...
Charlie Baker ...
Palm Court Singer
Iván Verebély ...
Béla Fesztbaum ...


Young Bruno lives a wealthy lifestyle in prewar Germany along with his mother, elder sister, and SS Commandant father. The family relocates to the countryside where his father is assigned to take command a prison camp. A few days later, Bruno befriends another youth, strangely dressed in striped pajamas, named Shmuel who lives behind an electrified fence. Bruno will soon find out that he is not permitted to befriend his new friend as he is a Jew, and that the neighboring yard is actually a prison camp for Jews awaiting extermination. Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

jew | boy | nazis | poison gas | fence | See All (149) »


A timeless story of innocence lost and humanity found. See more »


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

26 November 2008 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£513,653 (UK) (12 September 2008)


$9,030,581 (USA) (16 January 2009)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Some parts in the movie is of some parts of the story of Rudolph Höss, a two-time commander in Auschwitz. The name "Ralf" is a play with names. His wife did not want him "in bed" after realizing what they where doing in the camp (whereupon he was unfaithful with the maid). The house in which the film was made looks remarkably like their house close to Auschwitz. The children became aware of the camp. His rank (Lieutenant Colonel) is same that Höss had at the time. In real life, however, Höss had four children and, of course, what happened in the movie did not happen to the Höss family. See more »


"The story mixes up the German Wehrmacht (army) and the SS (Hitler's paramilitary "protective" forces). While the Wehrmacht was not directly involved in the holocaust (though they committed war crimes and killed civilians), the SS was in charge of the concentration camps. Bruno's father's uniform is a mix of Wehrmacht and SS. The Wehrmacht uniforms were green, whereas SS uniforms were black and had the skull ("Totenkopf") symbol on the cap." Incorrect: the black "allgemeine SS" uniform, so beloved of Hollywood because of its iconographic qualities, was discontinued during the war. On the green 1940-1945 SS uniforms, the black colour was only retained on the peaked cap bands, the collar patches, as underlay for badges and on some varieties of shoulder board pipings. Camp Guards wore copper-brown uniform piping, the "waffenfarbe", denoting the camp guards branch. Just look at the original pictures of uniformed SS guards in the camps from the period 1940-1945. See more »


[first lines]
Mother: Hello, sweetheart.
Bruno: Mum, what's going on?
Mother: We're celebrating.
Bruno: Celebrating?
Mother: Mm, your father's been given a promotion.
Gretel: That means a better job.
Bruno: I know what promotion is.
Mother: So we're having a little party to celebrate.
Bruno: He's still going to be a soldier though, isn't he?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Quotation displayed before the opening titles: "Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows - John Betjeman" See more »


Referenced in Friendship Beyond the Fence (2009) See more »


Stomping At The Ritz
Written by Alan Moorhouse
Courtesy of APM Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A very good film
15 September 2008 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

When my son (nearly 12 years old) read the book he was awake until 5am that night thinking about the story and what it all meant; he had some penetrating questions too. A day or so later he said that he thought that it would make a good film, and imagine his delight when he saw that there was a film of the book.

I have taken him to see the film; and was riveted. I think that the style of the film is really that of an old fashioned family film, however the subject matter is emotionally very demanding and all the better for that. It does what good drama should do - makes you think and feel. As the credits ran, at the showing that I saw, no one moved or spoke for a minute or two. The Holocaust is a difficult subject, but to tell a story in such a way that it is accessible to a 12 year is a great achievement.

There have been some comments that the cast speak English (rather than, presumably, German) and that this is somehow a bad thing. What are the alternatives? Either sub-titles or daft 'ello 'ello accents. In some ways the ordinariness of the Nazis and the family points up the horror of what happened – that ordinary people can do the worst of things to fellow human beings.

207 of 252 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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