Film Friday: Jojo Rabbit

First up we have to recognise this is a satirical fable. A story about a little boy in the Hitler Youth in Germany towards the end of World War 2, who has an invisible friend in the guise of Adolf Hitler. Jojo wants to be a proper German, a hero. And, as he struggles with his training in the Hitler Youth, and the others nickname him Jojo Rabbit, the invisible Adolf is his guide and mentor.

However, Jojo encounters a problem. He discovers a Jewish girl, Elsa, hiding in the wall of his home.

‘My people wrestled angels and killed giants,’ Elsa tells him. She is part of an epic and precious race. And she is having an effect on Jojo. In spite of himself he is beginning to change. It seems that Jewish girls are not what he once thought. They are human beings just like him. So under the guise of researching the Jewish race for his superiors, he forms a relationship which begins to turn into a friendship.

Satire is a powerful tool, a way of lampooning and undermining that which seems powerful and destructive. To laugh at something can diffuse its power in some ways. So this film exposes the dark heart of fascism and points us towards something else. Something better. Humanity. True humanity. Kindness, respect, hope and freedom. Jojo’s mother, who chose to hide Elsa and distributes leaflets calling for peace, tells her son that she dances because dancing is for those who are free. Jesus brought a whole new kind of dancing into the world. His true humanity offered another way, a challenging but rich kind of way. A dance of freedom that would often be out of step with the routines and rhythms of this world. ‘Take my ways into your life,’ he said, ‘discover the unforced rhythms of grace, for my patterns are good, and I can lead you into a different, refreshing way of living.’

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