When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
By Sandie Angulo Chen,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Poignant pre-WWII drama about German Jewish family in exile.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Shows courage and perseverance of refugees fleeing war-torn countries. The Kempers must leave everything behind and start over again and again, displaying grit, integrity. Each time they move, they adjust to their new surroundings, make new friends, grow closer as a family. Importance of strong family ties is a clear theme. Being adaptable and compassionate are also promoted, as is importance of speaking out against bias and authoritarian regimes.
Positive Role Models
The Kempers all have to adapt to new surroundings, unfamiliar people, even new languages. They never stop thinking of the sociopolitical circumstances unfolding in Germany, and Arthur continues to write about the dangers of Hilter's regime, even when it means needing to move again to avoid capture.
Violence & Scariness
References to Jewish friends and acquaintances back in Germany who die by suicide or who disappear/are sent to camps after Hitler is in power. A close family friend dies, upsetting the entire family. Children are separated from a beloved caregiver. Some arguments/taunting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The Kemper parents embrace, hold hands, kiss. They're shown (clothed) in bed together.
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Two characters make antisemitic comments like "you people," "dirty Jews," and "you Jews always have to be the best." Arthur calls Germans "fools" for following Hitler and labels an actor whose work he disliked a "tasteless amateur."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink wine or beer in a couple of quick dinner scenes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is director Caroline Link's German- and French-language drama based on author Judith Kerr's semi-autobiographical children's book. It centers on a young Jewish girl whose family flees Germany in 1933 to avoid capture by the Nazi regime. Told from 9-year-old Anna's (Riva Krymalowski) perspective, the movie depicts the everyday difficulties (and adventures) involved in starting a new life in new places when your parents are consumed with fear and anger at the circumstances back home. Expect a few upsetting conversations about family friends who died by suicide or after they disappeared or were sent to concentration camps, as well as a sad scene in which it's clear that the family will never see their beloved housekeeper/nanny again. Some characters make antisemitic comments ("dirty Jews," "you people"), and adults talk about anti-Jewish laws back in Germany. A close family friend dies off camera; the family is heartbroken when they find out the news. Families who watch can talk about the difference between being a refugee and being an immigrant by choice and the story's historical context, as well as check out the original book on which the movie is based.
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When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
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What's the Story?
Director Caroline Link's adaptation of German-born British author Judith Kerr's semi-autobiographical 1971 children's book WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT is an exploration of a Jewish family's exile in the early 1930s, just as Adolph Hitler rises to power. Nine-year-old Anna Kemper (Riva Krymalowski), her 12-year-old brother, Max (Marinus Hohmann), and their mother, Dorothea (Carla Juri), join father/husband Arthur (Oscar Mascucci), a prominent theater critic and columnist who publicly opposed Hitler, in exile in Switzerland after the family is warned that Arthur is going to be arrested. The Kempers quickly flee Germany, leaving behind almost all of their possessions (including the titular stuffed rabbit) and their beloved nanny/housekeeper, Heimpi (Ursula Werner), to head first to the Swiss countryside and eventually to Paris. While they're in exile, the Kempers, who enjoyed a comfortable and cultured life in Germany, must live in humbler and humbler circumstances, make new friends, learn new languages, and deal with a prejudiced landlord -- but at least they're safe and together.
Is It Any Good?
Like Link's Oscar-nominated 2001 drama Nowhere in Africa, this is a nuanced, touching portrait of a family that flees Nazi Germany early enough in the 1930s to avoid capture and imprisonment. The director lovingly tells Kerr's moving story about the day-to-day indignities the Kempers endure while traveling from Germany to Switzerland to France, having to start over in each country, make new connections, and adjust to new circumstances. Krymalowski does a wonderful job portraying the range of emotions of a young refugee who doesn't quite understand the severity of her situation. Anna is simultaneously confused, distressed, and excited in each new home, showing the kind of resilience that only a young child can. Her older brother, Max, meanwhile, can get predictably moody and intense as he internalizes the idea that whenever Arthur isn't around, he's the man of the house.
The talented Mascucci, who famously portrayed Hitler in the 2015 satire Look Who's Back, is memorably good as a frustrated intellectual and cultural critic struggling to find a new platform. Not a lot happens in the movie, it being more a character study than the typical pre-WWII drama. It should be made clear that this isn't a Holocaust drama (although the camps are mentioned in a couple of short but powerful scenes). This is a rare look at a Jewish family lucky enough to get out of Germany before the Third Reich made that impossible. And while other German Jewish families might have had relatives or connections in other countries to help make their exile more comfortable, the Kempers face poverty, discrimination, and homesickness while remaining grateful to be together and alive when those who stayed behind, unwilling to believe or understand their own country would turn on them, suffered far more dire fates. Kerr's book (and this adaptation) are ultimately a testament to resilience and family love.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how exile and displacement are explored in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. Does the fact that the movie is based on a semi-autobiographical book make it feel more authentic?
What other stories, TV shows, or movies have you read, heard, or watched about the period leading up to World War II? Is it unusual that this movie is about a Jewish family that managed to escape Germany (if not Europe) during the Holocaust?
Discuss how the Kemper family demonstrates courage, empathy, and perseverance. Why are these important character strengths? Do any other characters in this movie show these qualities?
Parents and kids can talk about what keeps drawing filmmakers and audiences to this time period in history. Why is it important to have compassion for refugees from war who seek asylum in new countries?
- In theaters: May 21, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 6, 2021
- Cast: Riva Krymalowski, Oliver Masucci, Carla Juri
- Director: Caroline Link
- Studio: Greenwich Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, History
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: April 17, 2023
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