The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Ultimate Proof That Friendship Has No Prejudice

What it’s about

Bruno is the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp during WWII. His friendship with a Jewish boy he meets across the fence leads to unexpected consequences.

My thoughts

​This is a truly empowering story about friendship with an extraordinarily powerful message at its heart, which also captures brilliantly the horrors of the Holocaust and the madness of it without utilising any real violence. 

If you’re looking for a film that will leave you feeling happy at the end, this is not for you. But if you’re looking for a film that will change the way you see the world, then this is one of those films, because it’s a damn guarantee that after watching this you will never look at a person who thinks differently to you in the same way again.

For that reason and many more this film gets a definite thumbs up from me.

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman

Genre: drama, history, war

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

Twelve Years a Slave

Riveting Tale about the Human Cost of Slavery

What it’s about

Based on a true story. Solomon Northup, a free African-American, is promised a fortnightly job by Brown and Hamilton. However, after arriving in Washington DC, he realises that he has been sold into slavery.

My thoughts

This film provides an excellent insight into the human cost of slavery and does very well at avoiding telling people what to think by focusing simply on telling a story and allowing the viewer to form an opinion.

It also does well at avoiding making this a story solely about skin colour, there are just people and some are bad, some are good and some are slaves, it is just in the story the slaves are black and that’s why they are slaves. 

A worthy winner of the best picture Oscar and most definitely worth watching as no person who watches this can watch it without by the end coming to the conclusion that if the world was a certain way, they could have been Solomon.

For those reasons along with the fact is a highly entertaining film it most definitely gets a thumbs up from me.

Director: Steve McQueen

Writer: John Ridley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 2013

Runtime: 134 minutes

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

The Ultimate Proof That Friendship Has No Prejudice

What it’s about

Bruno is the eight-year-old son of the commandant at a concentration camp during WWII. His friendship with a Jewish boy he meets across the fence leads to unexpected consequences.

What you will learn from watching it

​This film brilliantly captures the horrors of the Holocaust and the madness of it without utilising any real violence.

But it is not the Holocaust or the atrocities of the Nazi’s that people will take from this film, what they will take from this film is a most beautiful but also heart-wrenching reality about friendship, and that reality which is shown without a hint of preaching is that hate is learnt and friendship truly does have no prejudice.

Is the story any good

Mark Herman directed this film and adapted the story from the novel of the same name which is written by John Boyne. And what a good job he has done, the story is both beautiful, poignant and completely and entirely heart wrenching.

A rare spoiler alert, this film will break your heart but in doing so it will open your mind to a reality that is so empowering it is worth the price.

And that is the power of the story, you know what is going to happen all the way through, you may hope for a different outcome, but you know what is going to happen and yet you can’t stop watching because the friendship that is growing between the two boys on either side of the fence, a Jewish boy and the son of a Nazi commander is such a beautiful friendship.

Final words

If you love stories of the most human kind, then you will love this film. But be warned, if you’re looking for a film that will leave you feeling happy at the end, this is not for you. But if you’re looking for a story that will change the way you see the world, then this is one of those, because it’s a damn guarantee that after watching this you will never look at a person who thinks differently to you in the same way again.

That means, without a shadow of a doubt this film gets monumental thumbs up from me.

Director: Mark Herman

Writer: Mark Herman

Genre: drama, history, war

Year: 2008

Runtime: 94 minutes

Twelve Years a Slave

Riveting Tale about the Human Cost of Slavery

What it’s about

Based on a true story. Solomon Northup, a free African-American, is promised a fortnightly job by Brown and Hamilton. However, after arriving in Washington DC, he realises that he has been sold into slavery.

What you will learn from watching it

This film provides an excellent insight into the human cost of slavery and does very well at avoiding telling people what to think by focusing simply on telling a story and allowing the viewer to form an opinion.

It also does well at avoiding making this a story solely about skin colour, there are just people and some are bad, some are good and some are slaves, it is just in this story the slaves are black and that’s why they are slaves.

A worthy winner of the best picture Oscar as no person who watches this can watch it without by the end coming to the conclusion that if the world was a certain way, they could have been Solomon.

Is the story any good

The story from this film is derived from the real-life memoirs of Solomon Northup, which was a bestseller back in its day in the 1850s. Despite this the book fell into relative obscurity until Louisiana University in the 1960s released a historically annotated version which thrust it back into public knowledge.

The memoirs provided an extensive account of just what it was like working as a slave in the deep South, as well as detailing Solomons experiences working on plantations. Considering this it is easy to see how this film could quite easily have turned into a history lesson that brilliantly presented what it was like for slaves in the deep South, but was boring as hell to watch.

Thankfully that does not happen as screenwriter John Ridley and director Steve McQueen have managed to find that perfect balance between focusing on the story while at the same time presenting an accurate image of the past.

What that means is this is very much a human story, and it is a human story that is told very well, so much so Solomon could have existed in any time and have been any person. And in that is the power of this story, and why it is such a brilliant one.

Final words

If you like historical dramas and are interested in learning about the slave trade, specifically what it was like for those trapped in it, then you will definitely like this film. But as this is very much a human story if you like dramas of the human kind then you will in all probability like this film, meaning this is a film which transcends its genre.

That means, all in all this film gets a solid thumbs up from me.

Director: Steve McQueen

Writer: John Ridley

Genre: biography, drama, historical

Year: 2013

Runtime: 134 minutes

Looper

Time travel thriller like no other

What it’s about

In the near future, the mob sends their victims back in time to get them executed by the loopers. Joe, one such looper, finds himself to be the victim of his own actions.

What you will learn from watching it

The concept is one moment has the power to define a person’s life, and in that moment a person may turn out to be good or bad. This is a fact that everyone knows to be true but the way it is shown in this film really drives home just how true it is.

Also the way this film shows the contrast between who you are today and who you may be tomorrow, and how you may react to each other should you meet is really quite brilliant.

Whether you will learn anything from watching this film though is debatable, one thing is clear it will most definitely make you think and as we always say here at Story Maniacs that is only ever a good thing.

Is the story any good

This is a very clever film which does its very best not to be confusingly clever, some may argue that it has succeeded in doing just that others may argue otherwise. But one thing is indisputable, and that is that the premise of this film is brilliant and is delivered in a smooth digestible fashion, a fact that writer/director Rian Johnson deserves much credit for.

That means the story is allowed to flow without hindrance meaning whether you understand what is going on in regards to the time travel is not important in regards to the entirely human story at the heart of this film.

And the story at the heart of this film, which is a grim but poignant story about the power of a mother’s love for her son and just how much that love can define a life, is one that will touch the heart strings of even the toughest of souls.

Final words

If you like time travel thrillers you will definitely like this film, but though this film has time travel in it, it is not a film about time travel, it simply uses time travel to push home its narrative and that narrative is an entirely human story about the power of love to define a life. If that’s something that appeals to you then you will like this film.

But be warned, this is not a happy film and in fact throughout makes for grim watching. So powerful and poignant it may be, but happy it is not. But poignant stories rarely are, at least in the world of film therefore that should not be held against it.

That means, all in all this film gets a thumbs up from me.

Director: Rian Johnson

Writer: Rian Johnson

Genre: action, drama, sci-fi

Year: 2012

Runtime: 119 minutes