'the Boy in Striped Pyjamas

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In the film ‘The Boy in Striped Pyjamas’ directed by Mark Herman, an important character who undergoes change throughout the movie is Elsa. Elsa is the mother of Bruno, the 9 year old main character, and the wife of Ralf, a commandant in the Nazi Secret Service during the time of the Holocaust. He is one of Hitler’s top officers, and gets given the position of commander of the Auschwitz concentration camp. At the start of the film, Elsa’s presentation is immaculate. She is well presented, tidy and contented with her life. She adores her husband Ralf and has a happy marriage. This is demonstrated by the camera techniques used. Elsa is often filmed looking up at her husband from a low angle. In one scene we see a close up shot of Elsa’s smiling face as she looks up at her husband Ralf descending the staircase in their stately home. He is dressed in his military uniform, and is filmed from a low angle, making him appear significant and important. We see him through Elsa’s eyes as someone she loves and respects and holds in the highest regard. The music accompanying the scene is light and gentle, creating a sense of celebration This changes later in the film where Elsa’s adoration is tested. They have moved to a house on the outskirts of Auschwitz and Elsa is outside looking at black smoke billowing out of the chimneys in the concentration camp. She wonders what the terrible smell is. A soldier who is at their house at the time comments, “They (the Jews) smell even worse when they burn.” The music accompanying this scene is sad, slow and dramatic making the viewer realise the horror and disbelief that is dawning on Elsa at that moment. The camera zooms slowly to a close up of her horrified face as she registers the magnitude of her husband’s involvement in this terrible human annihilation. This scene foreshadows the death of her own son, Bruno, who will eventually die in those same gas chambers. This scene sets the viewer up to feel sympathy for Elsa when that...
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