This movie is a wonderful political satire based on the 2008 book ‘Caging Skies’ (Christine Leunens). The story centers around Jojo, a 10 year old boy struggling to conform to the demands of toxic masculinity in Nazi Germany during WWII. This same toxicity serves as a solid foundation for the humor and the love story embedded between the ridiculousness and painful moments of the plot. The protagonist finds himself immersed in a Nazi youth camp that seeks to transform little boys into mindless killing machines. The camp itself present striking similarities with the song Psycho from Muse, a great tune that depicts the brain washing techniques used by extremist in military training to fabricate the idea of ‘the enemy’.
Jojo’s dad is away fighting for Germany leaving his wife and son behind. The little boy tries his best to be the man of the house by embracing the Nazi ideology fully and making his parents proud. Although, things get a bit complicated when he finds out that his mother is hiding a young jewish girl in the attic. She is old enough to be his deceased sister. While Jojo firmly believes that jews are the enemy, he hesitates on what to do. If he tells on her, his mom could be killed, so they make a pact. He will keep it a secret and the young jewish girl promises not to suck his blood. His mom is depicted as a woman with a strong character and a fantastic sense of humor. She is always finding ways to enjoy little things about life despite the chaos that is going around them. One line in the movie points out the irony of the whole Nazi ideology of creating a superior race, while their only allies were the Japanese, who do not look very Arian at all :p.
As days turn into months and their relationship grows, Jojo begins to question his own perception of reality and political ideology. He does not understand why his mother would do such a thing! The background scenery and depiction of daily life helps the viewer imagine how different life was back then. When Elsa told Jojo how she came to live in his house, I could not help but cry my heart out. She describes her journey since her parents were taken away. A friend of a friend had been hiding her and several people after that, until Jojo’s mom took her in. I could not help but think about the level of trust that she had towards strangers. Her life was in danger and she knew nothing about the people who were helping her. They could very much be pretending to help her to give her up and get her killed. I imagined how it must have been to just give yourself in not knowing if you would live another day. It made me think of how hard we make it to trust others, wrongly believing that the world is a dangerous place full of people who want to hurt us. While in reality, if people were that bad, the world would be in complete anarchy. However, that is not the case, as we see that people want to do good, otherwise they would not comply with laws and societal norms.
Overall it was very difficult to pin this movie into one genera, is sort of a love story, embedded on a lot of sad pieces and a satirical depiction of the war itself. It was truly a remarkable experience. I definitely recommend it, it is something completely different of what you’d expect.
What did you think about this movie? Leave your comments below.