Jojo Rabbit starts to question his world

Montgomery Blair

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Jojo Rabbit is the comedic and dramatic story of a timid and lonely ten year old Aryan boy Jojo, played by Roman Griffin Davis, whose only friends are that of Yorki, played by Archie Yates, and Jojo’s imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, played by the director Taika Waititi.  It takes place near the end of the war as the German army is getting increasingly more desperate for soldiers – to the point of recruiting children to fight – and paranoid of dissidents.  

Jojo is a young and emphatic Nazi who starts his journey at a Hitler youth training camp run by the one-eyed Major K. played by Sam Rockwell where after an accident he is ineligible to serve in any form of combat, though he, being a die-hard Nazi, wishes to fight for what he sees as his country.  This ineligibility for combat results in his usefulness of the war effort being reduced to that of propaganda dissemination and metal collection.  

Jojo lives alone with his mother Rosie, played by Scarlett Johansson; his father fighting in Italy as he understands it, and his sister died from an unmentioned cause prior to the beginning of the movie.  Upon return from a day out plastering propaganda upon walls throughout the city he comes home to discover Elsa, a seventeen year old Jewish girl played by Thomasin McKenzie, hiding in the crawl spaces behind the wall of his sister’s room.  Elsa, who is under the protection of Jojo’s mother has been in hiding for years and is longing for the day she can be reunited in Paris with her fiance, Nathan, who is fighting in the partisan resistance. Jojo, realizing he cannot turn her in as it would result in his mothers arrest, sets out to learn all he can from Elsa about the Jewish people, resulting in a budding friendship between the young Nazi and the Jewish girl hiding in his wall.  

Jojo sets out to write a book about the Jewish people titled Yoohoo Jew; though it is obvious from the start of his interrogation of Elsa that he takes all the learned prejudices that were taught to him by the Hitler youth at school and is merely interested in confirming them.  However over the course of writing his book Jojo grows to like Elsa and begins questioning his preconceptions towards her, and the Jewish people as a whole.

The film itself satirizes many aspects of  the Nazi’s from the assumed, or assigned, roles that men and women were given by the Nazi leadership for the success of the Third Reich, to the rediculousness of having to “Heil Hitler” upon all greetings of ranking officials in the German leadership. Whilst this is of course a fitful comedy it is a drama with the seriousness of the setting taken to heart.  Showcasing the horrors and paranoia present at the time in Germany may seem a tall task coming from a satire, but alas I think Jojo Rabbit succeeds in bringing both tears of joy and tears of sorrow to those who see it. 

In today’s world where bad news is as frequent and fast paced as the crashing of rapids it is important we all take the time to laugh and to dance, and this film is an excellent reminder of that.  For those of you who have not seen the film yet I hope this has persuaded you to see it, and as for those who have seen the film I will leave you with this:

 Let everything happen to you

 Beauty and terror

Just keep going

No feeling is Final

-Rainer Maria Rilke

 

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