Based on the book Caging Skies by Christine Leunens, Jojo Rabbit follows Jojo Betzler and his understanding of war and what Hitler stands for in Austria, which has recently joined the Third Reich in the movie. He went from a boy learning about history and enjoying studying with his teachers to being forced into sports and training for what Hitler saw as the future of these children. While still inquisitive and loving, Jojo is taking in the Nazi propaganda that surrounds him every day.
The catch? Jojo has an imaginary friend who just … happens to be Hitler. Played by Taika Waititi (with slightly frightening contacts), it seems this figure is someone Jojo is looking to this figure and the crowds and praise he acquires, feeding into his impression of everything that Hitler is preaching without truly understanding what’s going on around him.
In the latest trailer, we see more of how this movie is going to address Jojo trying to comprehend the world around him when he wants to understand what a man like Hitler is saying and why people are supporting him, while still trying to learn and grow as a boy.
This trailer shows a heart that the first trailer did not. While we saw Taika Waititi’s unique take on life shine, it was more the humorous side of his story-telling, but with this second trailer, we see the beauty that inhabits a Waititi film. When Jojo discovers that his mother is hiding away a young Jewish girl, he sees that everything he has been taught isn’t what he should believe.
While I’m still reading Caging Skies, and we’ve only gotten a glimpse of what this movie seems to be, I can tell, at least from this trailer, that it has the feel of Waititi’s more heartfelt work. When you’re watching Hunt for the Wilderpeople, you don’t expect to cry in the midst of your laughter, and yet you are. With Jojo Rabbit, it feels like the perfect mix of exploring the time period, looking at racism and antisemitism as it exists today, and seeing how this child is shaped through the world around him.
Maybe Jojo Rabbit will end up just being a sweet movie about a boy realizing he shouldn’t listen to his Nazi teachers, but I think that it has the potential to hit in a way that takes a look at our modern society and the path we are currently on, as well as what fueled the harmful rhetoric that let Hitler rise to power.
Jojo Rabbit officially comes out on October 18th and, after this trailer, it seems like it’s going to be another one of Taika Waititi’s films that carries a strong punch to our guts and makes us uncontrollably sob. Or maybe that’s just me, but whatever happens, I’m excited about Jojo Rabbit.
(image: Kimberley French/Twentieth Century Fox)
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