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Friday, May 26, 2017 8:04 pm

Holocaust film at Temple Sinai to present fable to challenge viewers

A Jewish boy and a German boy attempt a friendship during the Holocaust.

A Jewish boy and a German boy attempt a friendship during the Holocaust.

SARATOGA SPRINGS – “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” will be screened by the Saratoga Jewish Community Arts at Temple Sinai, 509 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, on Tuesday evening, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. The film program will also include an audience discussion and dessert reception.

“The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” is a fable told through the voice of a child, but the film is not for children, and this story is not just of any child, according to program organizers. Originally published in 2006, it was written for teen readers by author John Boyne. It tells the story of two eight year-old boys during the Holocaust one Jewish, and the other German who don’t understand that they should hate one another.

Bruno is nine years old, and he is not happy; his German father has a new job and he is leaving his comfortable house, his neighborhood, and his three best friends behind. Their servants are tight-lipped and nervous, and Bruno’s mother tries to explain that this is not only a promotion for his father, it’s his duty.

His destination isn’t a house in the country, though at least not like any he had ever imagined. It’s a bleak, forbidding place. He is surrounded by his father’s soldiers, including one particularly menacing lieutenant and there’s a cook who also appears to be a doctor, much to Bruno’s puzzlement. Strangest of all is the barbed-wire fence outside his bedroom window, and the huddled groups of men and boys beyond.

While some critics argued about the implausibility of the plot, their contention is that Bruno’s innocence comes to stand for the willful refusal of adult Germans to see what was going on under their noses. The late Robert Ebert, movie critic, wrote that the “film is not a reconstruction of Germany during the war, but is about a value system that survives like a virus.”

“This is a disquieting film heavily critiqued on both sides of the philosophical divide,” says Saratoga Jewish Community Arts Coordinator Phyllis Wang “which makes it rich for thoughtful viewing and dialogue.” Viewers are challenged to think if the historical inaccuracies are irrelevant when compared to the message that the movie attempts to deliver.

A $5  admission donation is requested. Reservations  and information  may be obtained by calling 518-584- 8730, ext. 2 or office@saratogasinai.org.

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