When I heard JoJo Rabbit’s premise I thought “there’s no way I’m going to see this film.” I didn’t think we needed yet another movie about Nazi Germany, especially not a quirky comedy where a little boy’s imaginary friend is Hitler. It seemed ridiculous and dumb to me, but my teenage son wanted to see it so I went with him. Plus I liked Taika Waititi’s film Hunt for The Wilderpeople and he was great in What We Do In The Shadows. I was so wrong about that movie. It was funny, heartwarming and one of the best coming of age films I’ve seen. I do not think it deserved the Best Picture Oscar above either Parasite or 1917, but it deserved to be nominated. It turns out Taika did win an Oscar, for screenwriting. That makes a lot of sense because he took such a delicate topic and made it humorous, touching and respectful. The film was frankly wonderful, and I would have liked to see a best actor nomination for the young lead, Roman Griffin Davis. Scarlett Johansson was ok in it and did not merit a support nom, but I digress.
Anyway Roman and Taika were on Ellen and they were so cute together. They talked about Roman’s acting experience, which was limited to school plays because he’s only 12, and about Taika’s Oscar. Here’s some of what they said and you can see the video below.
This is your first film
Ronan: I played a daffodil in the school play.
Taika: That’s what I saw in you was a daffodil.
Ronan: My inner daffodil.
Did you thank everyone you wanted to thank?
Taika: This is one of the better awards. With writing you don’t have to thank anyone. I did all the typing. There was no one else. I shared the thing with producers and my mom who introduced me to the book I adapted. She can come and look at [the Oscar] but I’m not sharing it.
Did you want to cast someone else as Hitler?
Taika: Searchlight said ‘we only want to make it if you play Hitler.’ It made no sense to me because look at me, I’m way too good looking. I feel like a celebrity would have detracted from the story.
As for what’s coming up for each of them, Taika is working on the next Thor film in Australia and Ronan is doing a project with his mother. I didn’t realize that Taika directed Thor: Ragnarok, that makes sense because it was hilarious and easily my favorite Marvel movie. He’s writing and directing the next one, Thor: Love and Thunder. Also I’m looking forward to seeing Ronan on the big screen again.
Oh and here’s a link to Taika’s Oscar acceptance speech, you could tell he was nervous but he did a great job. He did exceptionally well during his BAFTAs speech though. He said he was from the colonies, that he knew it had been a tough week for Britain and that it was nice “to take a little bit of your gold back home where it belongs.” Like his Oscars speech, he also thanked his mother and Christine Leunens, the author of the book he adapted.
I think I am a little bit in love with Taïka.
Me too, and I think he’d totally be okay with this! 🙂
He’s pretty dreamy. For real.
He’s number one on my “freebie” list. The night of the Oscars I mentioned this to my husband and bless him-he laughed at me and said “I know!” I may do a bit of gushing. He’s my favorite part of Thor, I can’t wait to see the next one.
Roman Griffin Davis is a delight.
As for Taika, a little Taika goes a long, long way. Limited doses.
Agree with you Lightpurple. Don’t know much about him but he always seems very up himself to me.
It’s the kiwi sense of humour – he’s definitely not up himself, he’s just very tongue in cheek. He’s taking the p*ss. I think it confuses a lot of Americans because they don’t know what to make of him.
Like for example, an American reviewer once said his movie “Boy” wasn’t “Maori enough”. The reviewer wasn’t Maori and had never visited New Zealand, he’d just really liked Whale Rider. It was offensively ignorant of the reality of modern Maori culture. It seems a lot of people have expectations about Taika and how he should act, and I think he likes subverting them.
It’s definitely the kiwi sense of humour, I have found that Americans more than others don’t seem to enjoy it or maybe don’t pick up on it
Watched Jojo Rabbit yesterday with my family and we left the theatre exhausted by one of the best films we’d watched since Get Out and Tony Erdmann.
Funny story: a ticket mix-up happened with a couple that were in our seats and we had a pragmatic talk about it. When I realised they were in the wrong theatre on the wrong day but somehow managed to get in I suggested they stayed. At the end of the film the man clearly wanted to talk. I was in tears. He ran into me outside and chatted me up. He really really wanted 1) to connect 2) to chat about the film. Had this been any other film I don’t think this closeness would have happened (this is the UK after all, and people don’t talk to each other about their feelings).
I’m sad because the only reviews that understood the film were not film reviewers, who went on about satyre, danger bla bla bla. Yes, the film gives a responsibility to parents and adults to inform themselves and others but that is what art does.
Sorry for the long story but this one hit me right in my (artistic) heart.
Thanks for sharing this. I really enjoy watching a good movie and then discussing it afterwards.
I was also on the fence about this movie before I watched it. It was fantastic. It was smart, funny, heart warming and emotional. It is my favorite movie last year. Watch it if you haven’t. It was amazing.
he is so full of himself; he is overrated. I did not like jojo, holocaust is not to laugh, I also didn’t like there was a sympathetic Nazi in the film.
Totally agree with you. The holocaust is nothing to be trivialized with comedy.
Have you seen the movie?
It does not trivialize the Holocaust and actually challenges judging people without knowing their character
You must hate Mel Brooks then.
I respect your opinion although I wholeheartedly disagree with it, mainly because Waititi himself has a whole agenda about ‘how-to-tackle-horror’ having been himself the target of racism and his family of anti-semitism (his mum is a Russian Jew). You may find it ineffective but to say that his goal is to laugh at the holocaust is really missing the point. His purpose is to dismantle it through experience and expose the illogical, absurdity of authoritarianism. Imagine saying Hi Donald everytime you greet someone: that was the purpose of the scene with the inordinate about of ‘hell hitlers’, not to ‘laugh at the holocaust’. Think Mel Brooks.
I find it truly horrifying to read ‘sympathetic nazi’ as if ALL THE GERMANS were horrendous. The gay soldiers were a good example of how so very late a lot of Germans understood that they were confusing patriotism (a sentiment very much awake and prevalent in the US still) and a dangerous ideology. I know we are in need of black and white, but I prefer to be exposed to the absurdity of dogmas and the greyness of the human condition.
👏🏻👏🏻 your comment.
Agree 100%. I’ve never seen a film that displayed the banality of the day to day habits of a fully propagandized people in such a unique and impactful way. But I get that it’s not a type of humor that suits a lot of people. I’m an absurdist. I appreciated the extreme darkness and the way it folded in with the other tones.
They were Nazi soldiers, they trained Nazis, they killed innocent people. The film asks me to forget the atrocities that this soldier committed because he is not at all bad. please btw I forgot to say I’m also Jewish.
@Evie, one of his goals was for people not to forget two things: 1) that the holocaust happened 2) that kids would watch the film so that they could have discussions with their parents. Nazis were humans who were soldiers, at the end of the war they were kids and teen-agers who had been brainwashed. And that is a VERY important thing to understand. Humanising doesn’t mean ‘making likeable’. It’s a shame people make that mistake.
Oh, and Waititi is Jewish himself.
@Evie “The film asks me to forget the atrocities that this soldier committed because he is not at all bad.” Does it though? I’m not sure where you’re getting that. I think the film is saying “No matter how deep into it you are, you can still change your mind and do some good.” The character you’re referring to still received his reckoning, did he not?
@Snowslow Thank your for your thoughtfull and articulate post. I agree with you on all points.
Yes yes yes all of this.
Yes Holocaust is not a laughing matter. But that is not what movie does. Once a great philosopher, Hannah Arendt said “tragedy deals with the sufferings of mankind in a less serious ways than comedy”. And Taika in my opinion managed to achieve just that which is very, very rare. In a world where the absurdity has been at the core of the biggest crimes in history laughter provides a way to reclaim power – the dictators can take all the power from the people but they can not take away our ability to respond to their absurdity (especially by laughter that minimise their power). Unlike drama, comedy done well allows us to see more nuanced portrait of life. Which is why I agree with the comment above – as much as it is uncomfortable to see a sympathetic nazi on screen it is necessary also to face up to the fact that life is not all black and white even in the darkest periods. And for God’s sake, he is a kid. If anything his horriblesness talks to the horrible stupidity of all the ideologies adults come up with. Understanding the variety of motives and actions help us understanding the issue for example how the crimes like that are even possible. Projecting evil and good unto groups of people never results in anything good.One of the key tasks of a comedy like this is to tackle that because drama has a purpose to dramatize everything that it portrays. And this is why I also do not understand when people say they do not need another film about nazi. With the virtual absence of knowledge about Auschwitz and other extermination camps among millennial, we need as many as nuanced stories about the past as possible. Portraying something like nazism in the movie is not support for it or glorification of it.
You’re telling a Jew he can’t satirise Hitler? Would you say the same to Mel Brooks, who’s done so twice with both The Producers and To Be Or Not To Be? It’s a long-long standing tradition for Jews to satirise dark times in our history – including the Holocaust. This and Taika are no different in that regard.
To be or not to be is a remake of a – much better – Lubitsch film, which I cannot recommend enough. It’s a masterpiece and it laughs at the absurdity of the cult of personality / totalitarian ideology in a clever way.
One movie which I felt trivialized the Holocaust was Benigni’s Life is beautiful – which has an Oscar 🙁
I haven’t seen JoJo rabbit yet, but after reading this thread and its different options I am really curious, I’ll try to catch it at the cinema.
People get all up in arms about “humanising” Nazis. It’s actually really important that we DO humanise them, because to do otherwise ignores the fact that these people WERE humans – humans who committed atrocious acts. If we act like they’re inhuman monsters, we risk ‘othering’ them and thinking of Nazism as an isolated occurrence, as opposed to a poisonous way of thinking that still corrupts modern people with families and friends.
Acting like the Nazis weren’t human makes it easier for us to ignore white supremacists beliefs when they pop up in our families, friends, coworkers.
Besides, the Nazis in question in the film was clearly gay, and thus at risk of Nazi punishment himself. If you watch the film it is clear that he was a soldier since before the Nazi party came to power. He’s a complex character who sometimes does the right thing – that’s more realistic than just being called a “good guy”.
Sorry for the novel, but this is a big feels topic for me. I’m convinced that we ignore racism and misogyny these days because we’re convinced that only wholly “bad guys” can have these beliefs. We have to acknowledge that it’s not that black and white, or otherwise history will keep repeating.
Taika is Jewish too, I think the film didn’t try to paint nazis as saviors, on the contrary, it showed that the nazis didn’t have mercy on their own people if they were somewhat different or didn’t agree with their politics, instead I felt the film was about Jojo being “saved” of the evilness of the nazi indoctrination, by Elsa, the Jewish girl. The film showed us, a child who has been brain washed and discovers that what he’s been told is whole life is wrong, a journey that ends with him losing everything he had but being safe with a Jewish girl he has falling for and who will now be his family, his savior. Elsa, a Jewish girl who has lost everything, her family, her fiancée, and who has to be in hiding to protect her life, she’s Jojo’s savior like I said, she makes him realize the foolishness of what the Nazi regime has taught him, she sees that he is just a child blindly following propaganda, and at the end she knows both of them are the same, children who have lost everything due to the war. On the other hand, we have Rosie, a woman who doesn’t agree with her country’s politics and defies the system which ultimately costs her life. Captain K, a gay man who has involved himself in the Nazi army even though, as it’s shown throughout the film, he does not agree with the politics either, to save his life and his partner’s life, and who is implied to also be a part of Rosie’s resistance group. The film doesn’t gloss over the war atrocities, you’re remained every second of what the Nazis we’re capable of doing, I respect your opinion, this is mine, I think it was a great film.
@Perla — I like your take on it. I thought it was a very good movie. My Jewish husband was laughing throughout the movie. Not everyone will appreciate absurd humor, too bad.
I’ve always felt like the “full of himself” thing was very tongue-in-cheek
Evie … have you ever read The Book Thief? It was incredible and also took a very interesting, original look at the Holocaust. You might like it. I think it is incredible to reach audiences about this. I couldn’t watch Schindler’s List; I just can’t accept the depth of hate. But, interesting takes from children on the holocaust? I can watch those for some reason. I think it lightens what is a horrific topic, educating while adding some interesting relief. They are points of view you don’t think about.
I love Taika but I wasn’t a fan of this movie. The different tones never came together. Also the satire should of had more of a “sting” to it. But from what I’ve been told the book is quite different, Hitler isn’t even in it, so I guess I get why he won the screenplay award.
I did like the performances of the children and Scarlett was terrific. Her scene impersonating Jojo’s dad at dinner was one of the best scenes in the film. Her nomination was deserved.
I love Taika! I thought the movie was good though not as much as my boyfriend who cried his eyes out watching it. As for the performances, Scarlett was way better than in Marriage Story, probably the only nomination she actually deserved. But the children were absolutely amazing, Roman was great, the little kid who played Yorki was hilarious and especially Thomasin McKenzie, I remember seeing her in Leave No Trace and she was so so good.
I recently dumped Tom Hardy and replaced him with Joseph Mawle as my celebrity boyfriend but Taika is trying really hard to capture my attention.
I still haven’t seen Jojo Rabbit but I will.
I just saw Little Women last week even though I didn’t want to
I really think Taika is genuinely a good dude with a good head on his shoulders. I’m so happy that his career has blown up the way it has. I know this film isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be risky, nuanced, and touching. I’m such a fan. And I liked that he shouted out his wife Chelsea Winstanley as his producer, but not as his wife. She is a rock star in her own right. Relationship goals, for real.
I watched JoJo Rabbit this past weekend. For me, it was easily one of the best movies of 2019. I cried and laughed a lot during the movie. It stayed with me well after it ended because it was smart, it had heart and humor.
As a writer myself, I totally concur with Taika’s acceptance speech. Writing is a lonely craft and no one can do it for you.
Also: For those of you complaining about satirizing the Holocaust, go talk to Mel Brooks, Steven Spielberg, Elgar Hilsenrath and Joseph Heller, all of whom are Jewish and all of whom made money off satirizing the Holocaust. I have no problem with that, because that’s art and that’s their right as artists and writers under the first amendment.
For those of you on here dragging the film, go write your own. That shit is hard work.
I would like to be friends with Taika. I bet he is just a fun ball of energy to hang out with and that energy is probably pretty good to have around during a long slog of a day.
JoJo Rabbit was my best picture pick. Such a clever, powerful film that was presented in a way that was very accessible and achingly human.
The way Taika shot shoes throughout the movie was one of my favorite film details I’ve seen in a very long time. Beautiful.
I’ve noticed that most americans don’t have any sense of humor and don’t understand sarcasm (exp. take everything people say as is). When people call Taika up himself etc i feel like that most of the time he’s just joking and making fun go himself.
Totally agree. It’s obvious to me that he just doesn’t take himself too seriously and jokes around a lot. People who are genuinely arrogant are not like him at all.
He is so delightfully entertaining. I LOVE his whole personna.
I don’t know I’d say “most,” but there certainly is a different sense of humor here than New Zealand and Australia. I think the bigger problem is that we’re currently a culture that takes itself very seriously and doesn’t read nuance AT ALL. A lot of his humor is very dry and people aren’t interpreting it as “humor.” I feel like I grew up in a much more sarcastic era, so it’s not that we don’t understand it, it’s just out of favor these days. Our loss!
I adore him and this movie was just so good. Easily my second favourite of the Oscars after Parasite. Those two movies were the only ones that made me want to talk about them after I left the theater. I couldn’t stop playing some scenes in my head.
Only thing is that I wish Thomasin McKenzie got a Supporting Actress nom instead of Scarlett.
…to me, Taika is The Sexiest Man Alive…
He really is outrageously sexy, isnt he?
It’s a little funny that I had NO idea he directed Ragnarok. I thought he was just the voice of Korg in it and that’s it. hahahaha. I love Korg so much.
I had been on the fence about watching JoJo Rabit, but now I might.
Love much of Taika’s work. But have to say I thought his acceptance speech was definitely not the strongest or the most resonant on the night. Which was rather curious given he’d just been awarded an Oscar for Screenwriting.
I thought his comment to indigenous children worldwide was the line of the night. Beautiful.
I like him as a person so it somewhat pains me to say that I can’t stand Jojo Rabbit. I thought it was a manipulative, shallow and muddled film that was, crucially, not funny enough as a comedy nor sharp enough as satire. It’s going to age about as well as Life is Beautiful has.