Jojo Rabbit – Director, Taika Waititi

Jojo is the name of a young German boy growing up in Nazi Germany near the end of World War II. In order not to cause any trouble his mother has allowed him to join the Hitler Youth and he in on the surface a proud Nazi and keen to get better. He has an invisible friend in a caricature Adolf Hitler (played by the director Waititi) who visits him in times of crisis to encourage his devotion to the fatherland. However, Jojo is not really into the whole Nazi thing. He is asked to prove his devotion by killing a rabbit during a Hitler Youth training day and he can’t bring himself to do it earning him the name Jojo Rabbit. While home alone one day he learns that his mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is actually part of the resistance and is hiding a young Jewish woman in their house. Jojo is conflicted as he grows to be friends with the young woman and realizes that Jews are not the monsters he has been led to believe. All this sounds very dramatic and serious but Waititi is a great satirist and the film manages to be very funny while wrestling with very serious issues. It successfully makes mockery of Hitler, Nazis and anti-Semitism while not minimizing the destructiveness of the kind of populist politics that led to the rise of the Nazis. The audience at the Elgin gave the film a huge standing ovation and the Q and A was excellent. When asked about the theme and his satirical approach, Waititi said that the he felt it was important that the issues of populism and anti-Semitism needed to be brought forward again and again because as a society we very quickly and easily forget the horrors that come with this kind of politics. He noted a recent survey that found over 60% of millennials in the US could not say what Auschwitz was or what happened there. That in itself is frightening. I thought the film was a huge success and it is interesting how it is being received. While the audience was clearly loving it and making it a challenger for the People’s Choice Award, many reviewers have panned it. A quick look at rottentomatoes.com gives it a 55% rating based on 11 reviews: 6 loving it and 5 not so much. Clearly it is a controversial way to take on the issues but my bottom line is that it does it very well.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s