When you think of World War II movies, you usually think of the perspective of a soldier fighting against the Nazis, like movies such as Dunkirk or Fury. However, Jojo Rabbit breaks the norm and takes the perspective of a young German boy trying to become a Nazi soldier.
The movie opens up to a collage of black and white photos of teens surrounding Hitler with a Beatles song playing in the background. I find this part of the movie really interesting: it displays the mood of Nazi Germany at the time. Its civilians praised Hitler for his actions and thought of him as a celebrity or, as the song might allude to, a popular boy band.
After that, it displays Jojo getting ready for camp, one historically described as a Hilter Youth camp. As he’s preparing for the long weekend, he starts to have doubts. To comfort him, his imaginary friend Hitler comes in.
Jojo’s Hitler isn’t like the one we know from history. In fact, this Hitler is more of what Jojo might think he is: someone that is a friend and is childish.
At the camp, Jojo undergoes training and is met with a challenging task: killing a bunny-rabbit. He doesn’t see why he would have to kill the rabbit and refuses to do so, leading to many kids to make fun of him and call him Jojo Rabbit.
Lost and upset, Jojo runs from the scene into the forest and gets a pep talk from his imaginary friend Hitler. Hitler believes that being a little rabbit isn’t so bad as a rabbit is humble, quick, and loyal. After this, Jojo is on top of the world and feels like he has the ability to do anything. He runs through the forest, and in the middle of a grenade lesson, he throws a grenade at a tree. Unfortunately, it bounces back to him, the bomb goes off, and Jojo is hurt in the process.
This accident leads to his ability to walk be hindered and his face to be scared. Because of this, his insecurities get the better of him, and he spends more time inside. He starts to hear strange noises from upstairs, and he finds out there’s a Jew living in his house. His sister’s old friend, Elsa, was sheltered in the house by his mother, Rosie.
The movie continues, and we find out more and more about how Jojo’s relationship and tolerance grow with the people around them. This film prides itself on being a satirical comedy, yet also a drama. I think the director did this flawlessly, always knowing when to be funny and when to be dramatic. None of the humor in the movie is hit or miss; they did a wonderful job executing each joke. Though, this is where some think the movie is mocking the seriousness of extremism.
Moreover, there are many films just like Jojo Rabbit that are set at such a sensitive time such as To Be Or Not To Be or The Great Dictator. Nowadays, we’re more understanding and put up with less crap, but we seem to be a little bit more reckless when deciding what’s good and what’s bad.
I think that Jojo Rabbit was accidentally swept up with the bad. If anything, a movie like Jojo Rabbit is what we need at this time. The movie shows us to be tolerant and anti-hate; it seems that we are more divided with different opinions and hating each other for such.
We can all come to the understanding that we don’t really want to hurt each other, and we all just want the best for one another.
Taika Waititi is a wonderful director and scriptwriter; he has a beautiful message for those who come and see his work. I can’t wait to see what he does next.