The comedy-drama Jojo Rabbit, released in October 2019, is a film addressing the Nazi regime in Germany from a comedic standpoint. Before watching the movie in theatres, based solely on my general knowledge of the Taika Waititi film's premise, I was not convinced that a comedic approach towards the dire subject of the Holocaust would be well-received. To my surprise, as a person who cares greatly for the fitting representation of the horrific events that took place throughout the Holocaust, I have never witnessed such a strategic and ingenious blend of lighthearted comedy and ardent dramatic portrayals of this severe subject matter. The drastic tonal shifts in Waititi's film prompted me to be laughing my head off at one instant and feeling the need to sob the next.
Jewish director Taika Waititi created this film as a unique medium through which to pay tribute to his ancestors, victims of the Nazi regime. In his film, Waititi recognizes the horrors inflicted upon racial minorities during the Second World War. Not only does Waititi successfully portray the devastation faced by the Jewish population in World War II, but he does so through comedic satire. The comedy used in the film is not exercised to find humour in the devastation caused by the atrocious actions of Nazis in World War II itself, but to criticize Nazi ideology, demonstrating the irony and nonsensical logic of Nazi Aryan values through humour.
The abrupt shifts in the film's tone represent the principal character and Nazi youth group member, Jojo Betzler, and his desire for lighthearted childhood experiences, such as joyful moments spent with his friends and family. However, Jojo's reality contrasts with this idyllic childhood. The young German's upbringing is riddled with adult topics of war politics, loss of family members, complex moral dilemmas concerning race, and overcoming propaganda and harmful societal beliefs – situations that no young boy should have to face. In reflection of Jojo's circumstances, the blend of comedy and dramatism in the film reflects the audience's desire for a joyous comedy, yet forces the audience to be confronted with shifts in the movie's tone, portraying horrific and dismal circumstances.
I was bewildered by the film's beautiful cinematography, and the heart-wrenching plot of a young boy discovering his moral compass and identity in a society plotted against his inherent beliefs. Additionally, I was blown away by the brilliant use of farce to criticize and demonstrate the ironic aspects of Nazi ideology. I feel that I can state with confidence that Jojo Rabbit, while being an acquired taste in terms of comedic preferences, is one of the most wonderfully peculiar, insightful, and well-written films that I have viewed this year.