The premise of Jojo Rabbit was really what grabbed me. A ten-year-old kid in Nazi Germany, finds out his mom is hiding a Jew in the attic. And also his imaginary friend is Hitler (played by the incomparable writer and director of the film, Taika Watiti). Yea I could definitely get into that.
The film is billed as a farce, and to that definition, it is. However with all successful sarcastic pieces, it’s laden with a heavy dose of truth. We laugh at the Nazi jokes, and the ridiculousness of it all. But then we have to remember, we are forced to remember that it happened.
The opening of the film, to me, is particularly great. We open with a Beatles song, and as you’re enjoying the master craft of the Beatles, the footage gracing your screen, is of Nazi fanatics, screaming and fan-girling…for Hitler. It’s a great expose’ on how this monster got so powerful.
We follow our young hero through his experience at a camp for Hitler youth. We watch as he discovers a Jewish “monster” living in his attic “Where are your horns?” he asks her, “We don’t get them until we’re twenty-one” Elsa (the Jewish girl) responds in jest. But Jojo believes her. We watch as he gets thoroughly confused. How could his mother hide this Jew? They’re all evil. How could this Jew be his friend?
We watch as Jojo continues to navigate Nazi Germany and we desperately plead with him as he yells at his mother for not loving their country. How could Jojo not see the truth when the evidence was right in front of him? It breaks your heart.
Throughout the movie Taika Watiti graces the screen with his goofy and powerful portrayal of Jojo’s imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. At times we see Adolf as just Jojo’s imaginary friend, a sort of comic instrument. One that even convinces him to steal a grenade at one point, and constantly offers him cigarettes. Watiti does not shy away from the magnitude that is playing this disgusting human being. When Hitler is usually portrayed in a comedy setting, because it’s easier to laugh at such a creature then remember what he did, Watiti makes him personable. You almost like him. But then you remember. Watiti makes sure that you remember.
As the film progresses, as Jojo gets closer to the truth, Adolf becomes more aggressive. In the final confrontation between Jojo and Adolf, after Jojo finds out the real Hitler gave up and shot himself, Jojo tells him “Fuck off, Hitler”.
I enjoyed this film, I thought it was very poignant. It was a film that I was still digesting after we left the theater. Between the imaginary Hitler, the clones, and the Nazi that saves Jojo (twice), it gives you some things to think about. And I liked that even though I knew a scene was coming, there had been so much foreshadowing it was obvious. But when it happened, I still gasped. Because like Jojo, I was ignoring the truth.
Go see Jojo Rabbit. Find some truth.
Peace, Love, Rabbits,