When Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis), a Hitler Youth fanatic, finds a Jewish girl living within his home, what does he do? The brilliantly made “Jojo Rabbit” satirically shares themes of trust, humanity, and perspective. Writer-director Taika Waititi brings to the screen a piece that carefully scratches the surface of a wound so deeply felt by many, and provides it with a fresh perspective. Also, Waititi, who is of Jewish descent, goes so far as to play Jojo’s imaginary friend — Adolf Hitler — and actively personifies the fantastical figure Jojo imagines.
“Jojo Rabbit” is not about Nazism; it’s about understanding humanity. Waititi’s use of young characters like Jojo and Yorkie (Archie Yates) allows for the audience to understand the ideology and its effect on a population from a new perspective. The film creates an original image of individuals living in Nazi Germany, and doesn’t look to antagonize everyday Germans but instead seeks to share a mirror-image of the audience.
Color is always present on the screen, revealing not only compelling scenery but also reality. Waititi shared that he wanted to depict Germany in color, not in its traditionally antagonized grey. Of course, this does not mean that the film looks to ignore the wrongdoings of the Nazis deliberately, but instead, it begs the question: could this have been you?
Jojo’s relationship with his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansen), is another crucial aspect of this story. Their on-screen relationship is natural, and allows the audience to relate to the single mother. Rosie plays a vital role in sharing with the audience the importance of life and the power of being a parent. Meanwhile, Captain K (Sam Rockwell) provides an honest depiction of a Nazi actively wrestling with wearing the skin of a villain. Together, Rosie and Captain K are brilliantly written to provide Jojo, the protagonist of this film, with direction.
Arguably the most important role of this film is Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie), who is, of course, the young Jewish girl that Jojo comes across. Elsa provides light-hearted humor that adds to Jojo’s mind, but also keeps him within limits, which makes it possible to share the raw humanity he happens to be missing. Her character is not the primary focus of this film, but Waititi has written a great character that provides just enough depth for an audience to see this historic moment through an important lens.
It is understandable to question a movie that satirically views a tragic piece of history, but only viewing this film through this lens will limit the depth of this story. Each symbol, color, and character provides the audience with meaning. This film is as much about the present as it is about the past. It is a film to laugh at, but to also reflect on how one is treating those around them. Waititi has created an honest reflection for his audience on how to understand their beliefs and recognize