A film that is sure to spark controversy, Jojo Rabbit tells the tale of a shy German boy during World War II, and his imaginary friend, a sympathetic and comical Adolf Hitler. The dark “anti-hate” satire was shot in Prague, with a cast that includes Scarlett Johansson, Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson, as well as writer-director Taika Waititi as Hitler.
The first advertising teaser trailer has been released, giving the public a glance at what to expect.
Filming in Prague took place starting May 28, 2018, and reshoots were finished in February 2019. Aside from production work in Prague, the film has scenes shot in Úštěk, Chcebuz and Žatec.
The film will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and is scheduled for an Oct. 18 release by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in the US. It should premiere in Prague on Jan. 23, 2020.
The plot involves a boy, the title character Jojo “Rabbit” Betzler (played by Roman Griffin Davis), who supports the Nazi ideals and wants to be a respected member of the Hitler Youth. Instead, the others laugh at him and call him a scared rabbit because they think he is a coward.
He escapes into a fantasy world, where Hitler is his personal friend. “It’s my version of … a lonely boy’s best version of his hero, which is really his dad,” Waititi told media website TheWrap. The historical character is filtered through a childlike naivete, and not meant to be a depiction of the actual historical figure.
The situation gets more complicated because Jojo’s mother, played by Scarlett Johansson, is an opponent of the Nazi regime and is secretly hiding a Jewish person.
The film was adapted by writer-director Waititi from the novel Caging Skies by Christine Leunens. Both Waititi and Leunens have roots in New Zealand.
Before Jojo Rabbit, Waititi directed the Marvel action film Thor: Ragnarok, as wall as the adventure film Hunt for the Wilderpeople and the horror comedy What We Do in the Shadows, among other films.
The one-minute teaser trailer released has a rapid montage of scenes of the Hitler Youth and its leaders, played by Sam Rockwell and Rebel Wilson, other war-related images and avbrief shot of Scarlett Johansson forcing Jojo to look at something. Text in white and red letters tells the audience that “from visionistical director Waititi Taika comes a satire that goes to war on hate.”
It ends with Jojo and the imaginary Hitler in a forest, with Hitler trying to comfort the upset Jojo. “What’s wrong, little man?” Hitler asks.
“They call me a scared rabbit,” Jojo replies.
“Let them say whatever they want. People used to say a lot of nasty things about me. ‘Oh, this guy is a lunatic. Oh look at that psycho. He’s gonna get us all killed,’” Hitler says, ending the clip with a dismissive theatrical gesture.
The trailer is set to the 1960s soft rock song Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman, but that is no guarantee the music will appear in the finished film.