Jojo Rabbit challenges assumptions about WWII

JoJo Rabbit playing at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute – Matthew Schwartz ’21

Following the ever-growing trend of Marvel movie directors using their MCU “cred” to produce unique films, Jojo Rabbit, directed by Thor Ragnorak’s Taika Waititi, is based on Christine Leunens’s book Caging Skies, which was suggested to Waititi by his mother nearly a decade ago.

     The story, altered from the book to appeal to wider audiences, centers around the story of Jojo, a young boy in the Berlin’s Hitler Youth during World War II. With Jojo’s imaginary friend Adolf Hitler, played by Waititi, Jojo Rabbit is a jarring film that provides the levity and self-awareness necessary to delve into such a disturbing topic. In the beginning, the film relies heavily upon comedy to illustrate the absurdity of the Nazis’ actions, such as the excitement surrounding a book burning. Though humorous, these bits become stale rather quickly, but provide some insight into Jojo’s life.

     The movie hits its stride with the introduction of Elsa, a young Jewish girl that Jojo’s mother has been hiding in their attic. It shifts from a lower-stakes film to a story of innocence that results from ignorance of the surrounding world. With tense moments that the film lets sit and bask in the sun, the film does not shy away from its subject and provides serious social comedy about current events in addition to a strong anti-war message. Waititi mixes comedy, emotion, and drama, shaping the world as he sees fit. In a film where the protagonist is a Nazi, someone society has been taught to hate, it presents a feeling of understanding and even sympathy with those who are different than us.

JoJo Rabbit provides a much-needed escape from reality by prompting a less serious outlook on the world.”

     Winning the Audience Award at the Toronto Film Festival, Jojo Rabbit is a hit with viewers. While controversial, it provides a much-needed escape from reality by prompting a less serious outlook on the world.

Author: Matthew Schwartz '21

Editor-in-Chief Matthew Schwartz has written for The Index for three years. He previously served as Managing Editor and News Editor.