The Boy in the Striped Pajamas has a storybook innocence about it, by design.
A haunting Holocaust tale with a chilling end, writer-director Mark Herman's film is adapted from the young person's novel by John Boyne. Its protagonist is a 9-year-old German boy, Bruno (Asa Butterfield). His father (David Thewlis) is an SS commandant, and the family - including Bruno's mother (Vera Farmiga) and teenage sister (Amber Beattie) - is moving from Berlin to the countryside, where the father is taking up his new assignment: overseeing the operation of a Nazi death camp.
In key ways, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is like Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth: a child, caught in the waking nightmare of one of history's ugliest times, confronting the horrors of a grown-up world, and dealing with them as best he, or she, can. But Pan's Labyrinth's tiny heroine retreated into a world of fantastical beings (be they real or imagined).