Taika Waititi is renowned for his breaking-the-boundaries film making and sure enough, he is back at it again with his latest film Jojo Rabbit.
Stirring up a mix of controversy, the film surrounds the second world war, in particular, Hitler and the Nazi’s, in a humourous Waititi manner. The film hit New Zealand shores this week and has since face mixed reviews over its genre and tone.
Jojo Rabbit has drawn a comparison to the Oscar-winning film Life is Beautiful, another film portraying World War II in a comedic style. Victoria University of Wellington historian Giacomo Lichtner said that depicting historical events like World War II with comedy can be powerful.
“When those kind of unusual or more subversive genres approach a subject like that, I think the key issue is, do they ultimately show you things, do they reveal, or do they conceal?
“The problem with Life is Beautiful’s premise, in my view, isn’t that it’s not funny, but that it tries to uphold the view that life is beautiful, even in the camp. The idea that you can uphold an uplifting reading of life and humanity while in the camps is false,” he said.
Waititi has taken inspiration from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator, released in 1940, to help influence his rendition of a comedic Hitler. Lichtner said while Jojo Rabbit includes subjects such as racial persecution and violence, the film also has moments of clarity and sorrow.
“Immediately, to me, it seems like one of those films that constantly reminds the viewer that it’s allegorical or symbolic or fantastical – and that means the viewer is less likely to believe that that’s how it was” he explained.
As Waititi’s film has been made purely for comedy and enjoyment and is presented as a complete mockery, perhaps this type of film is what we needed.