Postechian’s Pick: Jojo Rabbit
Postechian’s Pick: Jojo Rabbit
  • Reporter Kim Seo-jin
  • 승인 2021.12.14 00:33
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Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Jojo Rabbit (2019)


Warning: The synopsis below gives away important plot points.

Ten-year-old boy Jojo Betzler grows up in Germany during World War Ⅱ (WWⅡ). He is extremely patriotic and yearns to live for Nazi Germany. Jojo even has an imaginary friend, whose name is surprisingly, Adolf Hitler—historically renowned as a notorious dictator, A-class war criminal, and sinister leader of the Holocaust. Jojo opens his heart to Hitler, confessing all sorts of secrets, including creative ways on how to torture the Jews.
One day, Jojo goes to a training camp for the Hitler youth, where children are taught how to throw explosives, use weapons, and most importantly, become brainwashed into thinking that Jews are horrible creatures and that the Nazis are the most superior among all races. At the camp, Jojo’s commitment to the Nazis is tested. The captain and other older boys threaten him to kill a rabbit, saying that Jojo is not a true Nazi if he can not kill it. Jojo gives up, so the boys start shouting out “Jojo Rabbit,” a chant that is the title of the film. Running away from the chanting sound, Jojo, unfortunately bumps into an explosive, injuring himself.
Unlike Jojo, Jojo’s mother Rosie is an anti-Nazi who sends out “free Germany” flyer sheets around town. Rosie invites Elsa—a Jewish friend of her deceased daughter—to hide in their house. Jojo is irritated at the fact that his mother brought a “nasty” Jew to their house, and searches for ways to get rid of Elsa with his imaginary friend Hitler. Jojo continuously interviews Elsa, and soon learns that Jews are not nasty beasts; they are just the same kind of innocent human beings as all other people. He even grows fond of Elsa and develops a pure affection for her.
Jojo’s home is investigated, and Rosie is hung on the street. There is not enough time for consolation; however, because one of the final battles of WWⅡ breaks out in Jojo’s neighborhood. The Allies win, leading to an era of a truly “free Germany”. Jojo takes Elsa out to the streets, which are now safe for her. Together, they dance to delight in Elsa’s strenuously acquired freedom.

Jojo Rabbit (2019) is a black comedy based on WWⅡ Germany in the 1940s. Primary and pastel-toned colors fill the screen, creating a bright atmosphere throughout the whole story. The actors’ expressions and lines were also light and humorous. If one only watched certain scenes, one may forget that the film criticized the Holocaust. However, such portrayal in Jojo Rabbit created a unique and heavy punch in castigating the Nazis for their acts of brutality. People watching the film can find themselves giggling at a scene that depicts one of humanity’s greatest tragedies, abruptly realizing that their laugh was a sour one. Instead of typical gloomy-mood history documentaries, Jojo Rabbit wittingly chose laughter as a means of self-reflection.
The usage of Adolf Hitler’s character was also a big success. As Jojo matures with the help of Elsa’s conversations, the bond between him and Hitler also weakens, and later on, Hitler is kicked out of Jojo’s mind. This gradual process shows that Jojo grows up to become a man who is no longer a victim of brainwashing, but a person of mature civic awareness.
Overall, the film Jojo Rabbit conveys the heartbreaking warning of the Holocaust successfully through black comedy.