Jojo Rabbit: No Uniform Required
Updated: Jul 1, 2021
What do Jojo's uniform and scars say about him as the movie unfolds?
2019’s “Jojo Rabbit” is a surprisingly heartwarming tale about growing pains and questioning one’s beliefs about the world. The titular Jojo is an average 10-year old boy who masqueraded himself as a Hitler Youth League member despite the fact he was a very empathetic and kind person at heart. His character grows as his relationship with the Jewish stowaway girl Elsa blossoms, and this change in character is evident in the young boy’s appearance. His choice of outfits and the visibility of his scars emphasizes this.
At the start of the film, Jojo is in his Hitler Youth League uniform, and he is very excited about the upcoming Hitler Youth League training weekend. His imaginary friend, a comical version of Adolf Hitler, help hype him up as well. Jojo gets the previously mentioned scars when he foolishly throws a grenade after trying to impress his peers for failing to kill a rabbit due to his kind nature. The fresh scars represent the beginning of his journey to redemption, these bright red scars are the cracks forming in his blind belief in the Nazis. Jojo says the scars are ugly and scary, which reflects the reality he and hundreds of other children had to live through during World War II. Due to the grenade incident, Jojo was kicked out of the Hitler Youth League, and relegated to putting up Nazi party propaganda posters and collecting metal due to his mom’s friendship with Captain K. Jojo’s uniform while he is putting up the propaganda posters is black representing the despair he feels by being isolated from his peers and having to be the man of the house. As he makes more and more visits to Elsa, the buttoned-up uniform dissipates along with his interactions with his imaginary friend. Jojo’s new non-Nazi wardrobe symbolizes how he begins to let go of his loyalty to the Nazi party and his love for the mysterious girl grows. At this point in the movie, the scars are slowly fading symbolizing the healing in his heart as he becomes closer with Elsa. After the Americans and Russians invade Jojo’s hometown, he goes outside with Elsa in the street and dances. The color in the sky is much brighter and it reflects the newfound freedom both Elsa and Jojo now have.
The use of Jojo’s wardrobe and scars symbolizes the growth he undergoes throughout the film. He was a well-intentioned boy swayed by the wrong messages. But his heart was pure enough to change his mind and find love with an unlikely ally who was also alone in an unforgiving and frightening world.
By Drew Cheskin