The movie “The Boy In The Striped Pyjama’s” was a fascinating story regarding awakening, duty, innocence and loss. It was a movie regarding a journey with the tribe. Three aspects of tribe were represented by the family, the military and the country. The movie is based in Germany during the second world war.
The first chapter of the movie explored the safe tribe. It was artistically filmed in a beautiful big house with contrasting colors of rich deep wood, rich colors on the walls and in the carpets, deep laughter and genuine happiness. There was one dissenting voice; the grandmother’s voice, the Crone. I reflected on how many myths and stories I had read contained the warning, or shrewd, voice of the Crone. The Grandmother in the movie looked fondly upon her grandchildren. I interpreted her worry for the loss of her grandchildren’s innocence. As I look deeper into the film I see my own reflection of safety and comfort. Innocence lives in richness. It lives with alive colors. Our innocence rests in places nothing can touch. In each of us rests a Crone or The Sage, the wise old voice shouting at us something is wrong. Often, however, we are too young, or too innocent, or too naive or unwilling to hear the words of our Elders.
The mother was innocent and, I interpreted her, as unwilling to hear what is actually happening and what danger lies ahead of her. In stories she is often cast as the young woman constantly looking into the trees, or onto the horizon, with a niggling something bad is happening, but simultaneously distracted by the goodness of the life she has. She is the part of our psyche that paces our subconscious, knowing the Crone is calling, but not quite old enough, wise enough, or willing enough to listen.
The main character is a young boy who loves his life, but appears to be born with a strong intuition. He knew he was sad to leave, and, yet we are led to believe he sensed where he was going would not be to his liking. He was very aware of his surroundings and the moods of the adults in his world. The vigilant aspect of our psyche.
Our innocence is often our saving grace. We do not see the world beyond us. Innocence is not lost to the future, rather it is preserved in the present. The little boy is playing with his friends on his last morning in the warm, rich, safe house. We see wide hallways, where they are chasing one another. Wide hallways in stories are the easy paths. The paths where there is nothing lurking. Playing with his friends the morning he leaves, interprets as the rise of innocence. The prime time of the young; the morning, when, not yet anything has marred the day. I found it to be a very ominous scene, not unlike the ominous adventure that was awaiting him.
The move to the country side is beautifully filmed. The house they move into it concrete, harsh, contrasting colors, dark floor (watch the soil of evil under your feet), high windows (best not be to seen from), cold colors, cold senses. A stark contrast to the first place the psyche dwelt. I noted that each round window has bars on it, the detail followed to even the round lights on the walls had cages around them. How would you, dear reader, interpret the symbolism to that?
Houses in stories, in our dreams, often represent where we find our soul dwelling, where we find our comforts. The deeper the house goes, generally the deeper we are asked to look into ourselves. The higher the house goes, the loftier the ideas of ourselves go. Perhaps as well, our higher consciousness is being challenged and asked to join in our spiritual and intellectual conversation. The house artistically, flawlessly, portrayed the stark, rigid reality the boy and his family were moving into.
The father, the masculine aspect of the psyche, in our movie is a rigid man. He reminded me of Bluebeard. His innocent wife was told to keep the children out of the backyard. In fact, in the movie we see the backyard as being impenetrable. Un-breach-able. The father is the German military presence. Rules, warrior, controlling, an overseer. Much like Bluebeard, he gives his wife and children a big sprawling house, no connection to the outside world (unless escorted off the property by a driver), no connection to other children. Isolated.
In our own lives our psyche is often isolated from our more conscious actions. We often act behaviourally, from our unconscious selves. The aspects of our first through third chakras. The young boy acts from a place of innocence and guilelessness. He is dismayed to be trapped in the house, in the small yard. Much like the adventurer of our own soul, it is unhappy to be locked in small places, no matter how attractive they may be. The adventurer and innocent part of us is constantly seeking stimulation outside, it looks for ways to escape.
We have another side to our innocence. It was portrayed in this movie as the twelve year old sister. She is on the praecipe of innocence lost. She was trying to break out of her innocent self. She played the part of us that wants to go along with society, finding comfort in belonging – buying into the sold, or consensus reality. There is nothing wrong with that. It is a living aspect of our collective soul. She represents the part of the story that gives us, the viewer, the listener, comfort by demonstrating safety in belonging and conformity. Even when her belief of the consensus as the ‘only’ way to live is challenged, she would not let go. It is like the complacent sister, or young captive, in any story we are told. It is the part of our psyche giving us permission to belong and be completely okay with belonging. She wanted to mature and grow up to blend into the collective personality.
The innocent, adventurer finds a way to escape the enclosed world. He used a window high up on a wall, to escape. This, to me, is again, asking the higher self, the higher consciousness, to become involved with the adventure. At the age of eight he cannot yet comprehend the world around him. He is still cocooned in fun and adventure. He ventures out of his family compound to explore and finds a German concentration camp very close to his house, where he meets his mirror, his twin psyche, behind the electric fence wearing what he believes are pyjama’s. Between them they try to find a language to understand why there is a fence between them. The trapped innocence has no ability to explain it to him. He has already been broken without the ability to question. Question often leads to misery. Many aspects of ourselves can identify with this aspect of self. The part of us told no 100 times. The part of us shunned for asking questions. The part of ourselves hidden away, knowing how cruel the consensus, over-culture can be.
It is similar to the struggle we face when we come to a place or time in our life when we need to go deeper to understand something. We have, as of yet, no language to create a different understanding. It is difficult to comprehend what we have not yet learnt about. It is the joy, and the frustration of innocence. On our path to understand ourselves more deeply, we are often challenged by our shadow side, the darker side of ourselves. The captured innocence, the innocence we have starved, beaten and thrown away, for fear of looking too closely at ourselves. The adventure of our growth is attempting to make friends with our shadow innocence. The innocence that has been lost to us, often times through trauma.
As the story progresses the innocent wife finds the truth behind the door her husband tells her never to open. Much like Bluebeard, giving his wife all the keys, but forbidding her to use “this one” and never unlock “that door”. What is behind that door is death, decay and the deepest shadows and ugliness. Upon discovering his innocent wife has seen his true nature, Bluebeard must then, in his evil mind, kill his wife. The wife in the movie finds her loud and dissenting voice, admonishing the overseer masculine psyche. The Feminine is Awakening. Her first instinct is the revolt in horror. To argue the emotional illogical reasoning behind locking in and killing ‘the shadow side’ of society. The final wife in Bluebeard kills her husband, although is some lesser tales the brothers rescue the sisters. However, our older stories generally acknowledged the feminine was fine and able to rescue herself.
As the story reaches its climax a horrible rain storm comes. Storms do not require an explanation. We understand them as portents to great danger and great change. The adventurous boy wants to help his friend behind the electric fence. He vows to dig under the fence and aid his friend in finding his father. Adventurous parts of us take on outlandish and risky roles and actions. Actions such as these, the fully conscious, consensus bound, aspect of our selves could never do. A vow made is made from the second chakra, the place of tribe. It is a vow that should never be broken. Ultimately, innocence pays the final price when it pays with its very life.
The tale is incredibly tragic. Not only is it tragic, it is also a reflection of the journey of our own soul, as we move through phases of innocence, adventure, loss and rebirth. The loss of the son/brother in the story is the moral lesson to each of the individuals remaining. The dark masculine, father, could not, even with his soldiers and fine dogs, rescue his son in time. The awakening feminine mother sees the hole under the fence, knowing, intuitively her son has sacrificed his life. The sister truly loses her innocence through the awareness her belief structure helped to fracture her existence, the loss of a sibling. A younger aspect of her own innocence.
We are constantly changing and constantly growing. On my shamanic path, I see this as moving around and around the medicine wheel. Awaking and putting to death different aspects of ourselves. The movie is a heavy handed reminder of blind faith couched artistically and metaphorically in a beautiful symbolic package.
This movie gave me much to ponder regarding the journey of the soul. The aspects we throw away. The aspects which overcome. The aspects wishing to remain blind and silent. The beginning of our wounding. As difficult as it can be at times, it is vital to our selves, we never stop the journey. It is painful to wake up. Much of our innocence does die. However, the benefits of knowing and understanding ourselves more deeply ~ strongly compels us to move ahead.