The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Differences Between Novel and Film

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The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
[Film directed by Mark Herman]
Discuss the changes that take place between the novel and the film, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and the impact they have on you.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is a novel by John Boyne that has recently been turned into a film. It tells the story of a young German boy (Bruno), and a Jewish boy (Shmuel)’s “forbidden” friendship. Bruno, located on the opposite side of a huge barbed-wire fence that guards the concentration camp where Shmuel is confined, has never had a friend he can’t play with. Throughout the novel, their friendship grows and both boys learn very important lessons. When the novel was made into a film, a few things were changed, some were minor and some quite important. The four main things I have chosen to discuss are Bruno and Shmuel’s appearance and age, Shmuel’s reluctance to take food from Bruno and Mother’s involvement in her children.

In the original novel, Bruno is described as being nine years old. However, in the film, Bruno is one year younger. Bruno clearly says “I’m not six, I’m nine” in the novel while in the film, he tells Shmuel he is eight when they first meet. This change was most likely done to make Bruno look much more innocent, childlike and naïve. This makes the audience viewing the film connect with his character a lot more because they have sympathy for the young, curious boy.

In the film version of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, they have made changes to Shmuel’s appearance. He is not as skinny and malnourished in the film than he is described as in the novel. A quote from the book states that “Bruno was sure he had never seen a skinnier or sadder boy in his life.” These changes have been made to Shmuel’s appearance because the viewers would think it’s very cruel and wrong for a child to be so skinny. The audience would instantly lose connection with the character because they won’t want to watch the evidence of a young actor being...
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