Sunday 30 May 2021

Nerd Church - I Watched Jojo Rabbit: Part 1 - The Survival of Humanity

(Warning: due to the subject matter of the film Jojo Rabbit, this post discusses: war, Nazis, Hitler, the Holocaust, bigotry, indoctrination)

I watched Jojo Rabbit...

'I Watched Jojo Rabbit: Part 1 - The Survival of Humanity'

Jojo Rabbit* is a 2019 film written, directed, and starring the legendary Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi.

(It's inspired by, rather than based on, the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens.)

It is a comedy about Nazis.

And yes, you read that right.

It is a comedy about Nazis.

* = commission link

Our eponymous Jojo is a ten-year-old German boy in the dying days of the Nazi regime.

He supports the Nazis with the fervour of a die-hard football fan, is a proud member of the Hitler Youth, and his imaginary friend is Hitler himself.

Again, you read that right - his imaginary friend is Adolf Hitler. As played by Taika Waititi.

Waititi rightly pointed out at the time that there is no better FU to Hitler and his racial purity b*llsh** than being played by a self-described 'Polynesian Jew.' 

(And winning an Oscar for the screenplay in the process.)

Jojo Rabbit thumbnail/film poster showing all of the central cast posing in various ways

* commission link

Jojo's life is turned upside-down when he realises that his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in the house.

His first instinct is fear and revulsion. Because he has been taught the false narrative that Jews are simultaneously weak, and also highly dangerous; stupid, but cunning; oh, and he thinks she has horns.

Basically, he's terrified of her and he wants to turn her in.

But he also wants to protect his mother, so he keeps quiet.

Let's make this clear: I understand if you have zero desire to watch this film, or if you've seen it and find it problematic, and/or offensive.

The content is difficult, and while the tone feels right to yours truly, I'm sure it won't be to everyone's taste.

It's also, in places, brutal. Though it manages to never be overly-graphic or gratuitous, which I personally think is a testament of the skill of Taika Waititi.

But still, the whole thing is... it's a lot. No-one can deny that. It's a lot.

But, imho, it's actually a hilarious and weirdly uplifting film.

...Which makes the heartbreaking bits even harder hitting. 

The callous cruelty brings us back to earth with a bang on more than one occasion. The most dangerous thing to be, in this crumbling regime, is kind, or compassionate, or selfless. 

The most dangerous thing to be, here, is a good person.

The history of the human species does not paint a pretty picture.

Oppression, war, suffering, and just being the most awful things you can imagine has been a staple of our species for... literally as long as we've existed.

And we're reminded of all of that when we look back at the brutality of historical events, or whenever we watch the news and see what's happening in the world. Even now.

Sometimes, in the face of the continuous sh**tiness of the world, we can feel helpless, hopeless, frightened, and overly-aware of our own mortality and the mortality of those around us.

Human beings can be breathtakingly terrible.

And the awareness of that terribleness can make it hard to keep going, to keep moving forward.

But Jojo Rabbit is, above all, is a film about survival. Not just of humans, but of our humanity.

Even in the worst of circumstances, Jojo's mother Rosie is willing to risk everything to hide Elsa, the Jewish girl.

She tells Elsa that 'As long as there’s someone alive, they lose.'

The existence of those who are discriminated against? Those who believe in love and compassion and equality and the beauty of human beings? It's a victory - all by itself.

As I am continually saying to you, dearest nerdlets: where there's life, there's hope.

Even as reality starts to crash into Jojo's life, bringing the realities of war and violence, and the realisation that he has been sold a lie of hatred by the regime, Jojo survives, and keeps surviving.

He carries on, the best he can.

Even amongst the worst of humanity there are beautiful moments of joy and hope and happiness and life and... it's a great film. 

If you get the chance, and the premise doesn't put you off, I recommend the watch.

The more observant among you may have noticed that this post is a 'Part 1.'

That's because this film has layers.

More importantly, it's because I had so much to babble on about say about Jojo Rabbit that it became clear that I was gonna have to split it into sections in order to finish in time for posting it today. 😅

No, I don't know yet how many parts it's gonna be - I'm thinking about 2 more, but it may only be 1.

Catch Part 2 - Facing History here!

Or jump ahead to Part 3 - The Bittersweet Tale of Captain K!

Have you seen Jojo Rabbit? What did you think?

Or does the premise put you off watching it at all?

Is Taika Waititi taking the Hitler role enough of an FU?

Talk to me! 😀💬

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  1. Wow, I had no idea what this movie was about, but I heard about it during the 2019 awards season. I would love to know what Jewish people have thought about the film, and I'm sure there is probably a lot of mixed opinions. I do think Taika taking on the role of Hitler is a big FU though, especially since he is a POC. I think satire and comedy can really work to give a good middle finger to the bigotry of the world, however I can imagine that not everyone feels this way.

    1. Having researched this I can confirm there is, in fact, mixed opinion. I'm going to link some #OwnVoices reviews in *waves hands vaguely* one of however many parts this turns into! From what I've seen, the majority of Jewish reviewers loved this - but some were understandably deeply uncomfortable.

      I think an Indigenous Jewish dude playing Hitler is pretty much the biggest FU Taika could think of! Lol <3


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