Jojo Rabbit Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

Ten-year-old boy Johannes Betzler (Roman Griffin) lives in Nazi Germany in 1945. He is a member of the children’s fascist organization “Jungvolk” and dreams of becoming a bodyguard of Hitler himself in the future.

Johannes is so obsessed with the ideas of Nazism that his imaginary friend, Hitler (Taika Waititi), periodically comes to him in his dreams. Well, you know, the Kid had Carlson, who lives on the roof, and Johannes has Hitler, who dreams of bringing the whole world to its knees. However, the imaginary friend of Johannes Hitler is a rather nice creature: he supports and encourages the boy.

And Johannes needs encouragement. He went to the Jungvolk training camp, run by Wehrmacht captain Klenzendorf (Sam Rockwell). With his assistants Finkel (Alfie Allen) and Fraulein Ram (Rebel Wilson), Klenzendorf prepares children under his care to serve in the ranks of the Nazi army.

However, it turned out that Betzler was not very suitable for the role of the fearless and unrepentant Aryan warrior. Johannes failed the first simple task of turning a live rabbit’s head. And for this he was immediately nicknamed Jojo Rabbit. However, Hitler’s imaginary friend says that there is nothing to be offended by: they say that rabbits are smart and cunning, so Jojo will still circle everyone who mocks him.

Returning from the training camp to the house of his mother Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), Jojo suddenly discovers that Inga’s friend, a Jewish girl, Elsa Corr (Thomasin Mackenzie), lives in the wall of the room of his sister Inga, who died from an illness during the war. As a loyal Nazi, Jojo is going to immediately report the girl to the Gestapo, but Elsa explains that then the Gestapo will take both Rosie and Jojo – for harboring a Jewish woman.

Then Jojo decides to take advantage of the situation and how to ask Elsa who these ungodly Jews are, and most importantly, how to learn to distinguish them among ordinary people. Jojo will write a book about this, which will surely be useful to his organization “Jungvolk”.

***

The literary basis of the script is a book by the New Zealand writer Christine Lennens “Caged Bird” (her grandfather Guillaume went through a concentration camp in 1940). The book tells about an Austrian boy Johannes Betzler, born in Vienna, who enters first the Jungvolk, then the Hitler Youth, and then finds out that his parents are hiding a Jewish girl at home, and this fact comes into sharp confrontation with the boy’s worldview.

The book is very serious and dramatic, the boy does not have any imaginary friend of Hitler in the book, and the boy himself has to go through very serious transformations of consciousness.

New Zealand director Taika Waititi, who has recently become a world-famous director from a well-known regional director – after Marvel entrusted him to direct the Thor: Ragnarok triquel and Waititi coped with this task simply brilliantly – got the opportunity to direct a picture based on this book. the way he wanted.

Taika in the script and in the production markedly changed the tone of the story. Despite the horrors of Nazism shown – the hanging of opponents of Hitlerism, the execution of prisoners – it is rather such a kind fairy tale in which even the killings of people seem fake, the imaginary Hitler – at least for most of the picture – seems to be a good friend for Jojo, and all sorts of Nazis and even the Gestapo – such slightly operetta, buffoonery.

However, I have read that writer Christine Lennens herself praised both Taika Waititi’s script and his interpretation of her book in the film very highly, and she repeatedly spoke very flatteringly about the director.

The beginning of the picture and all the episodes of the training camp among fans of the wonderful independent director Wes Anderson immediately bring to mind the picture “Kingdom of the Full Moon”. Instead of a Boy Scout camp, there is a Jungvolk camp. Instead of a boy, Sam Shakaski, a boy, Johannes Betzler. Scoutmaster Ward is replaced by Captain Klenzendorf. Instead of pest control, book burning. Instead of launching firecrackers – drawing caricatures of Jews. Well, after escaping from the camp, Sam meets Susie, and Johannes meets Elsa.

And purely stylistically, all this is staged very similarly: bright colors, a slightly watercolor picture, the atmosphere is somewhat sad, but just fairy tales.

However, this does not look like a direct borrowing, especially since after the camp these pictures tell about completely different things. Rather, Taika simply wanted to place the Nazi children’s camp in the entourage of a kind of indie movie, one of the brightest representatives of which is Wes Anderson.

Well, then the audience is shown the story of the rapid maturation of the boy Jojo and his gradual realization of how much the true picture of the world differs from what the Nazi educators drove into his head.

Put it, in my opinion, just fine. Waititi is very accurate in tones and intonations. If his “Real Ghouls” is an absolutely wonderful parody comedy, then “Jojo Rabbit” is a subtle and accurate tragicomedy, where the word “comedy” does not at all mean that there is something to laugh at in the picture (actually there is nothing funny ), which means the fact that this is not pure drama after all. This is almost a fairy tale, which, on the one hand, shows some characters in a kind of buffoonery vein, but, on the other hand, it talks about very important things: about how easy it is to confuse children’s heads with misanthropic and Nazi ideas, about how attractive for children, these ideas may look like, and how hard it is for children to begin to understand that adults simply deceived them vilely.

And against this background, the story of the acquaintance and friendship of the boy Jojo and the girl Elsa is shown very subtly and touchingly, and without any deliberate squeezing of a tear at all.

The main children’s roles are absolutely wonderful. That the boy Jojo, performed by Roman Griffin Davis, and I note that this is his very first film, that the girl Elsa, performed by Thomasin Mackenzie, who, in comparison with Roman, is already quite an experienced actress – she played in eleven films and TV shows. They are both very, very good! Well, I note that as a director, Taika Waititi knows how to work with child actors no worse than Wes Anderson.

Jojo’s mom Rosie was played by Scarlett Johansson and she just blew me away! In general, I have no enthusiasm for her acting abilities: in most films, in my opinion, she takes on a bright appearance, and not acting, but here – the role is downright outstanding!

Rosie hates Hitler and what he did to her country. She also hates Hitler for what he did to her child, who is now a little Nazi. But she, of course, loves her Johannes very much and tries to communicate with him in such a way as not to cause that very cognitive dissonance in the boy, when his mentors create one picture of the world for the boy, and his mother lives in a completely different view of what is happening around. . Rosie has to be very careful with her son, and she tries very carefully to let him know what she thinks and feels.

And there is one amazing scene when a child asks about his father, who left for the war a long time ago and there, judging by the hints of both Klenzendorf and Rosie, either deserted or went into the Resistance – and Rosie, drawing a beard on his face, portrays both JoJo’s father and himself at the same time.

Scarlett really struck me, she simply struck me, the role is amazing and very bright!

Taika Waititi himself adorably portrayed Hitler’s imaginary friend. Hitler, on the one hand, is very funny, but, on the other hand, in the boy’s imagination, he also goes through a series of successive transformations, turning from a good friend into a symbol of those Nazis who deceived Jojo.

I love actor Sam Rockwell – he never disappoints anywhere. And here his character, oddly enough, is even rather positive, despite the fact that he seems to be a Wehrmacht captain and trains young cannon fodder for Hitler. But Klenzendorf is disabled, he does not have one eye, he constantly sips schnapps from a flask, therefore he is in a state of mild euphoria, he clearly has inadmissibly tender feelings for his main assistant, the impeccable blond Aryan Finkel, and in his research Klenzendorf is very, very funny . Rockwell played him perfectly, although he literally has a few small episodes.

Well, you should definitely mention Stephen Merchant, who played the head of the Gestapo in the scene of the visit of the Gestapo detachment to the house of Rosie and Jojo. On the one hand, the scene seems to be quite tense – what if they find Elsa, on the other hand, it is made very funny.

Great movie, I really enjoyed it. In paintings on such a complex and painful topic, the main thing is to clearly maintain the style: to walk along a narrow edge, without sliding into either squeezing out tears or scoffing. Taika Waititi, in my opinion, did a great job of doing this. Add to that an excellent production and very impressive acting – in my opinion, this film is absolutely worth watching.

 

Jojo Rabbit movie meaning

Director: Taika Waititi Cast: Roman Griffin Davis, Thomasin McKenzie, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Sam Rockwell, Rebel Wilson, Alfie Allen, Stephen Merchant, Archie Yates, Luke Schufield

Worldwide gross: $74 million
Tragicomedy, USA-New Zealand-Czech Republic, 2019, 108 min.

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