“Jojo Rabbit” teaches that ignorance is not bliss

Taikai Waititi strikes again with a deep message under the mask of a seemingly light-hearted mockumentary.

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“Jojo Rabbit” teaches that ignorance is not bliss

Taikai Waititi's

Taikai Waititi's "Jojo Rabbit," reveals a dark twist on the German occupation.

Courtesy of IMDb

Taikai Waititi's "Jojo Rabbit," reveals a dark twist on the German occupation.

Courtesy of IMDb

Courtesy of IMDb

Taikai Waititi's "Jojo Rabbit," reveals a dark twist on the German occupation.

Thecla Li, Managing Editor

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Known for directing blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok” and short film “Two Cars, One Night,” Taika Waititi upholds his unique directing style with “Jojo Rabbit,” a film that puts a disturbingly innocent twist on the German occupation. 

AUTOCRAT TO ADVISOR

“Jojo Rabbit” documents the life of a young boy in 1944 Berlin whose dream is to qualify as one of the movement’s most valuable soldiers. His imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, identified by his infamous toothbrush mustache and swastika adorned uniform, accompanies the mind of Jojo, portrayed by Roman Griffin Davis, as he participates in Nazi Summer Camp. In this light, Hitler’s character is portrayed to be far more encouraging and all-around endearing, a logical representation considering that audiences see Hitler through the lens of a 10-year-old’s imagination. 

Waititi’s signature quirks start almost immediately as the movie begins to illustrate notoriously ominous German occupation symbols as nothing more than fun camp activities. This includes things like burning books and lessons on how to use a hand grenade.

WAITITI GIVES HIS TWO CENTS

“Jojo Rabbit’s” depiction of history’s most ill-famed genocide qualifies as different and almost inappropriate. However, considering how Charlie Chaplin treaded on thin ice in his bold choice of creating the Hitler-esque Adenoid Hynkel in “The Great Dictator” and how Quentin Tarantino created his own vengeful, action-filled rendition of the leader’s rule in “Inglourious Basterds,” Waititi’s concept is nothing new but still offers a fresh perspective.

A HIDDEN AGENDA

Waititi does an amazing job of achieving historic accuracy when creating Jojo’s character––a child brainwashed by propaganda. Jojo, who is first introduced to the audience as an innocent, naive child, is forced to mature as he unravels the web of lies he was raised in. Teaching him both about life and shoelace-tying is Jojo’s kind-hearted mother Rosie, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson

Jojo’s world is turned upside-down when he discovers Elsa, played by Thomasin Mckensie, a Jewish girl his mother hides in their attic. Torn between his Führer and his mother, Jojo is challenged to question the blind patriotism that he had so-confidently built his childhood on. 

Portrayed in the trailers as nothing but humorous and satirical of the Nazi occupation, “Jojo Rabbit” takes a dark turn, revealing Waititi’s original scheme to feature the horrors of the Third Reich after all. 

By concentrating on the indoctrination of children, Waititi effectively leads his audience to grieve with the protagonist, and in turn, the real children involved in the occupation, as they arise to history’s most disturbing wake-up call.