JoJo Rabbit is a coming of age film about a 10-year old boy at the end of WWII in Nazi Germany. JoJo is a naïve boy who has been brainwashed by Nazi fanaticism (the movie begins on JoJo’s first day at a Hitler Youth camp), yet lives with his mother who–unbeknownst to him–is actually part of the resistance against the dictatorship. Further eroding his beliefs, JoJo learns that his mother has been hiding a Jewish girl, Elsa, in their home, who JoJo befriends. Indeed, JoJo develops a “crush” on Elsa and realizes that his “beliefs” are completely misguided and incorrect.
The movie uses satire in many different ways.
First, JoJo’s inner thoughts are manifested by an imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler. However, the imaginary Hitler is played as a child-like buffoon, such that the dictator is seen as a representation of what evil really is–sad and pathetic. Second, the Nazi followers are displayed as “over the top” fanatics whose unthinking devotion is made to look silly. For example, one female Nazi at the Hitler Youth camp notes that Germans are the most civilized people, and then says, “OK kids, let’s burn some books!” Even the opening credits show actual footage of the blind appeal the German people had for Hitler, while the Beatles’ “Hold Your Hand” music (which also created similar hysteria) plays.
Jojo Rabbit displays a representation of the horrific time of World War II. Making this event into a satire ultimately does deliver the concept of the brutal events that occurred. It is interesting because most movies on this topic obviously have a very different tone to them. In the movie, there is a scene in which Jojo sees that his mother has been hanged for going against what the Germans thought was right. We see him crying and holding onto her legs. This moment in the movie reminds us of the terrible things that happened during the war and how it affected every person in some way.