Jojo Rabbit (2019)
The 10-year-old Jojo, a member of the youth army of Adolf Hitler, the leader of fascist Germany, finds out that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their house.
- World War II began in 1939 and ended in 1945 in Europe. It was the largest conflict in human history that claimed the lives of up to 60 million people.
- Holocaust – is Mass genocide of Jews by Nazi Germany during the World War II. More than 6 million Jews were killed, most of them were living in Poland.
The film is based on a book of Christine Leunens “Caging Skies”, Taika Waititi made screenplay of it. In 2020, film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. As director says, it was his mother who adviced him to transform book into movie.
- Taika Waititi is from New Zealand. “Jojo Rabbit” was nominated for several Oscars in 2020 and brought the director the recognition and popularity. He won his first Oscar in 2005 for the short film “Two Cars, One Night”.
- It is important to mention, that the Fox Searchlight Pictures intro music is transformed into a German agitation song.
- The film focuses on the fashion style of the Nazi period. The costume designer masterfully conveyed the style of dress of ordinary, civilian, military and government officials.
- The gray, black and brown hue of Nazi uniforms accurately expresses its essence: large leather boots, rough hat, coat made of genuine leather, it is so-called Nazi fashion. The designer of the SS (Schutzstaffel, or Protection Squads) uniforms was the famous Hugo Boss.
- At the beginning of the film ten years old Jojo swears to be ready to love Hitler all his life, to serve him and even to die for him. Other children also repeat his words. Does Jojo’s attitude change during the film and how?
- Turning point in the film is an episode when Jojo finds a Jewish girl at home after hanging the mother. The boy discovers that the information he has accumulated over the years about Jews is false, girl is neither covered with fish fins, nor has the smell of cabbage, or horns. What do you think, why Nazi created such stereotypes about Jews?
- There are many films about the Second World War but Taika Waititi, offers the funniest and most original interpretation of Hitler in the history of cinema. Children in a cinema is a very interesting topic, we can remember the film of Roberto Benigni “Life is beautiful”. What ways does the director find to talk with children about such difficult topic as fascism?
- Taika Waititi says in one of the interviews that he often drew swastika in his notebook when he was a child. However, due to a strange sense of guilt, he turned the swastika into windows at times. Does this “guilt” wake up in the main character of the film?
- A Nazi general saves a Jewish girl, what do you think about his action?
- Do you agree with the director’s decision regarding the film ending? Would you change it?
Write about this film
According to the story of the film, in the last months of the Second World War, protagonist, ten-year-old Johannes “Jojo Rabbit” Betzler , is a weak and unconfident “fighter”. He has an imaginary friend Hitler who helps him to deal with fears and finding himself. After the death of the mother he finds a Jewish girl in his house, these two facts turn out to be turning points in Jojo’s life. Focus on the feelings and social background in Nazi Germany. Is it difficult for children to grow up in such reality? Watch other films on the same topic “Life is Beautiful”, “Schindler’s List”, “The Great Dictator”. Focus on the choice of director – why is he ironic towards Hitler.
The main storyline of the film is the story of a German boy and a Jewish girl. There are many films about the genocide of the Jews (Holocaust), which are much more difficult for teenagers to watch than “Jojo Rabbit”, for instance, Roberto Benigni tells the heartbreaking and amazing story of a Jewish father and his young son in the film Life is Beautiful. Learn more about the Holocaust by working individually. On the basis of historical materials, analyze what socio-political preconditions preceded the mass genocide of the Jewish people. Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit” begins with a mother-son relationship, but the German woman is punished by the Nazis themselves. Try to analyze these two films from an epochal context: Life Is Beautiful was created in the 1990s, and Jojo Rabbit was created in 2019.
Curriculum links: History, Civic Education.
The countries of the totalitarian regime used cinema as the main tool of propaganda, be it Soviet Union or fascist Germany. These types of films should include the main message by the ruling parties. “Jojo Rabbit” is anti-propagandist, more precisely anti-Nazi and anti-fascist film. As a group, watch and analyze propaganda films made in Fascist Germany and the Soviet Union.
Fashion in Nazi Germany! Almost no one in the history of cinema has created such a colorful and fun film about it. As a rule, the film about the Second World War is black and white! After discussion and group work, students can visualize the narrative material. Create a wall newspaper or presentation where you present material individually or in groups that you have found about Nazi fashion and lifestyle. Try to use historical documents, photographs depicting the urban environment, interior, furniture, streets, cars.
As a result of watching the film, discussion and writing a review in which it is necessary to use epoch-making contexts and the above recommendations, the student will know more about Germany during the Second World War.