The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is not a great film at the level of art (or cinema), but a great film at the level of its concept. That concept concerns a question of evil: Is it possible for a child to live in a world that is entirely rooted in evil? Set in Nazi Germany, adapted from a "young adult" novel, directed by a Brit (Mark Herman), and performed in English by English actors (the most notable of which is David Thewlis—the star of the '90s classic Naked), Pajamas is about an 8-year-old German boy who one day discovers a concentration camp at the back of his big house. But the German boy doesn't know that it's a concentration camp—he thinks it's a farm. The German boy doesn't know why the people in this funny farm are so sad. The German boy doesn't know why the nice Jewish boy he meets and befriends there has to wear striped pajamas all of the time. The German boy has no idea that the funny farm with the funny people is run by his secretive father, an SS commandant. The lonely German boy only wants a friend to play with, and the only boy of his age just happens to live in this funny farm with a barbed-wire fence.
The story is a fairy tale that dissolves into a nightmare. The nightmare begins when the boy realizes that evil does not only exist in the world but lives in his house, eats with him at the dinner table, and sleeps with his mother. The film ends with an answer to the question: Can a child live in a world that's entirely rooted in evil?