Taika Waititi’s Nazi tragicomedy wins six nominations JOJO RABBIT into this year’s Oscar race and, at first glance, only poses the recurring question of whether one is allowed to laugh at Adolf Hitler. In our review, we reveal how the New Zealand native uses his film to illustrate how a Trojan horse works.
Jojo discovers the young Jewish woman Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) in the attic.
The plot summary
Little Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) is too small for his age, an outsider and a rabbit, which is why the other kids at the Nazi holiday camp gave him the nickname “Jojo Rabbit”. But the boy is a loyal Hitler supporter and is ready to be a model Aryan, which repeatedly leads to confrontations with his loving mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). But Jojo’s life is turned upside down when he discovers that a Jewish girl named Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) is hiding in the attic of her house. Jojo’s mother once gave her shelter and risks her life every day. Jojo finds the girl fascinating and is forced to reconsider his radical views. The only person he can ask for advice is his idiotic imaginary friend Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi).
Jojo Rabbit Movie Meaning
The days when the public asked itself whether it was okay to laugh at Adolf Hitler seem long gone. On the contrary: Current political trends seem to make it particularly urgent to increasingly deal (and often in a biting, humorous way) with the dangers of fascist and right-wing extremist ideas. Nevertheless, Taika Watiti’s war-centric tragicomedy “Jojo Rabbit” received an extremely mixed reception after its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival. Some lacked bite, others lacked humor. In fact, the decision of the “Thor: Day of Decision” maker to make a film with a fictionalized Adolf Hitler friend as the constant companion of a disillusioned outsider Nazi child is fraught with risk and requires an enormous amount of sensitivity in terms of staging and narrative to hit the spot correct – serious and humorous – tones. But anyone who has previously doubted that Taika Waititi is exactly the right man for this should take another look at his no less tonally complex adventure drama “Where the Wild People Hunt” before “Jojo Rabbit”. With “Jojo Rabbit” he now brings the emotional range he already displayed to perfection – and presents a film like a Trojan horse. Funny, emotional and horrifying to the point of being impossible.
Captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell) and Miss Rahm (Rebel Wilson) only want the best for little Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his mother (Scarlett Johansson).
Although the trailer suggests it a little differently, only the first twenty minutes of “Jojo Rabbit” are a kind of Nazi version of Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom.” Where normal boy scouts learn to read tracks and make fire in order to exercise in the fresh air and later find their way in the great outdoors, Captain Klenzendorf, played by Sam Rockwell ( “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”), brings his male protégés here Throwing bombs and stabbing Jews. Rebel Wilson (“Glam Girls”), aka Miss Rahm, teaches the girls things like having children and cleaning. Taika Waititi easily makes up for the here and there lack of ingenuity with regard to the vulnerability of National Socialist theories with the clear staging: by letting his characters take in and present everything here as the most normal thing in the world, the absurdity of the premise directly deconstructs the topic itself. The Nazis shown here on the screen are all so stupid in their adherence to the regime that, among other things, they do not recognize the simplest contradictions within their own ideology. And if you then add the number of deliberately written gags – dry wordplay appears here in droves as well as a handful of slapstick or subtle observations in the background that continually counteract the supposed order of the Nazi world – the overall picture emerges for “jojo Rabbit”. , which on the one hand seems stylized, exaggerated and yet painfully realistic. Taika Waititi doesn’t just say no to the Nazis. He ensures that they present themselves and their worst sides – without false drama or putting pressure on the tear duct.
Of course, this also fits in with what is probably the biggest unique selling point of “Jojo Rabbit” and certainly the factor that could have most easily gone wrong: Taika Waititi herself slips into the role of Adolf Hitler (“It would probably have been the worst thing for Hitler to have a Jewish one Maori!”) , who acts as a kind of friend and advisor to the eponymous Jojo. He encourages him to be more courageous and loyal to his fatherland, encourages him when Jojo is afraid again and is angry when Jojo suddenly begins to question the leader’s theses. Here too, instead of demonization, Waititi relies on the undercurrent of threat. He even introduces the imaginary Hitler friend as a real person to be liked in order to build up an emotional height, the usefulness of which has already been used in films such as Roberto Benigni’s “Life is Beautiful” or, most recently, “When Hitler Stole the Pink Rabbit” . We experience the events in “jojo Rabbit” through the eyes of Jojo, who is easily manipulated at such a young age and who takes on the attitude of his whispering buddy one-on-one. The two become allies. But as mentioned at the beginning, Taika Waititi doesn’t rest on the absurdity and associated comedy of his premise. As cheerful as things may seem at first glance in this world, captured in rich colors by cameraman Mihai Malaimare Jr. (“The Hate U Give”) , disillusionment suddenly follows when Taika Waititi exposes his film as a cinematographic Trojan horse : a bitter war drama in the belly of a comedy.
What exactly is the trigger for such a radical change in tone that for a brief moment in “Jojo Rabbit” you have the feeling of losing the ground under your feet will not be revealed here for spoiler reasons. But as perfidious as he seems at first to be manipulating the audience’s feelings with simple methods, in this scene Taika Watiti cleverly exposes the cruelty of the action, which is already permanently embedded under the over-stylized production; It’s as if he were putting on a costume that gave you easy access to the material the whole time, but whose released sympathies for the characters remain intact even when you suddenly can’t laugh away the omnipresent anxiety. We were just happy that we were still able to digest everything quite easily when Waititi suddenly rams his fist into our stomach with full force. And somehow the director and author even manage to ensure that one or two moments do not descend into pure sadness as the film progresses, but instead lead to an igniting punchline. The actors are also not uninvolved in this. Scarlett Johansson (“Marriage Story”), nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role, cements her status as one of the finest actresses of her generation, finding strength in fragility, just as she does the other way around. Taika Waititi succeeds in making his Adolf Hitler so frightening through humor and Roman Griffin Davis has a promising future in Hollywood with this debut performance.
Conclusion: First you laugh, then you cry and finally you want to bow to Taika Waititi: “Jojo Rabbit” disguises a bitter drama about the horror of war and its effects as a satirical comedy. This dance on the staging razor blade is daring. But it pays off. If only it could bring far more people to the cinema than a conventional drama.
“Jojo Rabbit” can be seen in USA cinemas from January 23rd.