Jojo Rabbit Review

Giovanni Machado, Opinions Editor

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The feeling of watching a good movie is a great feeling. Knowing that your money was well spent on something is always good. But Going to the cinema with medium to low expectations and leaving it with the feeling that you’ve watched one of the best movies of your life, is one of the greatest feelings one might feel, and that’s how I felt as I wiped my tears, left the theatre after watching Jojo Rabbit.

The movie has some famous faces, such as Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell, and Rebel Wilson, and it is directed by Taika Waititi, who also plays the part of Hitler. The movie follows the story of Jojo, a Hitler-obsessed, ten-year-old boy, who was born and raised in Nazi Germany. It is not clear the exact date that the beginning of the movie takes place, but it leads us to think it is between late 1944 and early 1945 since it’s very clear that the allies had already taken Italy and on its way of reconquering France. Jojo’s obsession with Hitler goes to the point where he has the German dictator as not only his role-model but as his imaginary friend, who comforts Jojo whenever boy feels he is failing his country, or not being a man per se. Jojo’s vision on Nazism, however, starts to change as he discovers that his mom is sheltering an enemy of the state in his house, a fourteen-year-old girl, Jewish girl. The rest of the movie follows the collapse of Nazi German, along with Jojo developing a close relationship with the girl and figuring out how everything he had learned in school and from people around him is not just flawed and not true, but unhuman.

The premise of the movie is to be a comedy, which for many reasons might be considered extremely offensive since it is about a regime that killed millions of people, but I was surprised to see that that was not the case. The humor on Jojo Rabbit starts really simple and obvious, and that is how I thought it would go for the whole movie. However, it surprised me with extremely intelligent jokes, usually about the ignorance of the Nazis and Jojo’s Innocence.

I’m not going to lie, there were some moments that made me very uncomfortable, especially the very first scene of the movie, where it shows some videos of Nazi propaganda, where people are extremely euphoric and praising the German dictator with the song Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand, over the footage of people being on a euphoric state over the worst regime there ever was. Knowing that all this euphory led to the death of millions of people made the first moments of the movie very uncomfortable to watch. Besides that, there are some Jewish jokes, which were kind of expected, but again, in this case, the jokes themselves are not on the Jews, but on how ignorant the Nazi ideology was, and I believe that is one of the key points on why the humor on this movie is so intelligent.

Towards the last quarter of the movie, however, the story takes a whole other path, as the war starts to come to an end, the movie almost completely abandons the comedy part, showing Jojo’s innocence in the middle of a collapsing world, as the allies take over his city. The movie is full of motifs and themes, so many that I can’t even list all of them here, but the one the movie focuses the most is innocence. Jojo, for the most part of the story, doesn’t realize how offensive some of his comments about Jews are, he just doesn’t know any better. The movie reiterates many times that Jojo is not a Nazi, even though that’s how he sees himself. Jojo is a ten-year-old, who had the misfortune of being born in the middle of an absurd system, where you either have to agree, or agree. Although Jojo’s mom knows how her son’s visions of the world are corrupted, there’s nothing she can do about it. She knows that Jojo’s innocence would lead him to talk about it in school or with someone, which would lead to the death of both Jojo and his mom. 

For me, one of the many great aspects of this movie was how deep it went into war, and how it made me realize all the horrors that people lived during that time. When we learn about World War II it almost feels like a movie itself. The bad guy has a plan of conquering the world, he is almost doing it, until the good guys strike back and stop him, and they lived happily ever after. That’s why, for many people, World War II is the best subject to learn about in history classes. Most of the times, however, we forget that that is actually history, and that actually happened, and also that not all German was the enemy. There were some very good people with very good intentions in Germany at that time, they were, however, obfuscated by all the horrors the German government created. Remembering that there were many people who suffered in Germany as well, including many innocent kids, made me change the perception that I, and I believe many people, had about World War II. 

There are a few movies that made me feel such a broad range of emotions. Jojo rabbit had everyone in the theater laughing hysterically through most of it, and most of the people sobbing by the end of it, and a movie that makes you laugh and cry on a span of one hour and 45 minutes, is an achievement that only some movies have. Jojo Rabbit is definitely one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen, easily making my top ten list. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry, and most important, it makes you think, and that is what art does to you.   

 

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