I saw Taika Waititi’s Jo Jo Rabbit in the theatres two weeks ago.
When I first saw the trailer, like many film buffs, I couldn’t help but find an uncanny resemblance of the cinematography to that of Wes Anderson’s movies. But I love Wes Anderson’s creations, so I couldn’t wait to see Jo Jo Rabbit.
Told from the point of view of ten year old Jo Jo, a German boy who has been brainwashed in a Nazi youth camp, this film has a refreshingly different take on World War II. Visually stunning, with exaggerated but funny characters, it is moving and an absolute crowd-pleaser.
Jo Jo, branded ‘Jo Jo Rabbit’ by his wicked seniors after his failure to kill a rabbit to prove his ferocity as a Nazi trainee, is a kind and innocent boy who worships Hitler and thinks Jews are monsters with horns.
The director Taika, plays Jo Jo’s imaginary friend Hitler, with a Charlie Chaplinisque swagger. While Scarlett Johansson plays his mother, a ‘rebel’ German who is secretly harboring a young jew girl in the house.
‘Ten year olds shouldn’t be celebrating war and talking politics,” she tells Jo Jo, who swears by Nazi propaganda and firmly believes that Hitler will win the war and wipe out all the Jews.
So when Jo Jo finds out that there is a ‘dirty Jew’ hiding in his own house, one wonders if he will out his family to the Gestapo or will he learn that Jews are as human as him? The plot explores the little boy’s change of heart in a manner that will warm your heart too.
Some critics have accused Waititi of paying too safe and not showing us the brutal and ugly side of war. Of staying away from the concentration camps. Of being too farcical and fantastical about Nazi Germany, almost making the third Reich seem romantic. But for me as a viewer, the film wasn’t a cautionary tale about the brutalities of war. It is the story of Jo Jo, the young Nazi boy, who is capable of change when he has access to the truth about Jews – that they are just like him.
The movie makes one question their blind beliefs and also gives you an insight into how fanatics are made – when they are young. So they are redeemable.
I loved everything about the film, especially the little boy who plays Jo Jo’s best friend in the film. The boy who only wants everybody who he loves to be happy.
At first, I thought I ll just do a fan art sketch to express my admiration for this lovely film. But on second thoughts, I ended up doing both, writing a review and sketching a scene from the film –