Based on the Book “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens
Storyline by Shari Goodhartz:
Ten-year-old, aspiring Hitler youth JoJo enjoys an imaginary friendship with Adolf himself while being forced to reckon with cognitive dissonance on learning that his delightfully playful mother is hiding a 17-year-old Jewish girl in their house.
Film & Paradigm Analysis by Shari Goodhartz:
Act I sets up aspiring Hitler Youth JOJO (10) enjoying an imaginary friendship with a wacky version of ADOLF. JoJo attends CAPTAIN KLENZENDORF’s weekend training camp, where he’s bullied for being unwilling to kill a bunny. Adolf convinces JoJo to shame the other boys by throwing a live hand-grenade, which bounces off a tree and injures JoJo. His mother ROSIE is revealed to be incredibly playful and loving.
With his face, arm and leg injured, Plot Point I finds JoJo discovering that a Jewish girl named ELSA (17) is hiding in their house. They verbally spar and she easily takes his camp knife.
At the top of Act II, Rosie secretly visits Elsa. They discuss JoJo, who confirms that his mother is hiding a Jew but won’t confront her. Instead, he visits Captain Klenzendorf to learn more about the demon-like nature of Jews.
Klenzendorf demurs, but says someone ought to write a book about it. JoJo decides to interview Elsa and write such a book. To JoJo’s great displeasure, Rosie reports that the Allies are winning the war, then good-naturedly cheers him up.
At the Midpoint, JoJo poses as Elsa’s fiancé in a break-up letter, intending to hurt her. She is saddened, but not for the reasons he thinks. He quickly writes a second letter undoing the first.
In the second half of Act II, Rosie reiterates that the Reich is dying. JoJo spends more time with Elsa while composing his fancifully nasty exposé on Jews with illustrations. Adolf disapproves of JoJo spending so much time with Elsa, who tells JoJo he’s not a Nazi. JoJo realizes he’s in love. When Gestapo agents visit the house, Elsa pretends to be JoJo’s devoted-Nazi sister and gets away with the ruse because the SS are charmed by JoJo’s book. Klenzendorf also provides some sly help.
Plot Point II finds JoJo collecting metal door-to-door for the war effort. He discovers Rosie hanging in the street with other subversives.
Elsa tries to comfort JoJo in Act III, revealing that she suspected both Rosie and JoJo’s MIA father work for the resistance. JoJo fears his mother hated him for being a Nazi. JoJo learns how Rosie saved Elsa, and that Hitler killed himself. After saving JoJo’s life, Klenzendorf is killed by a Russian soldier. Elsa admits her fiancé died last year of TB and they decide to love each other as siblings. At the Climax, JoJo power-kicks Adolf out of his bedroom window.
The story is Resolved when JoJo takes Elsa outside by recalling a ruse his mother used earlier on him. They dance in the street as American soldiers drive past.