While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being protected by her adoptive parents.
In 1938, the young girl Liesel Meminger is traveling by train with her mother and her younger brother when he dies. Her mother buries the boy in a cemetery by the tracks and Liesel picks up a book, "The Gravediggers Handbook", which was left on the grave of her brother and brings it with her. Liesel is delivered to a foster family in a small town and later she learns that her mother left her because she is a communist. Her stepmother, Rosa Hubermann, is a rude but caring woman and her stepfather, Hans Hubermann, is a simple kind-hearted man. Liesel befriends her next door neighbor, the boy Rudy Steiner, and they go together to the school. When Hans discovers that Liesel cannot read, he teaches her using her book and Liesel becomes an obsessed reader. During a Nazi speech where the locals are forced to burn books in a bonfire, Liesel recovers one book for her and the Mayor's wife Ilsa Hermann witnesses her action. Meanwhile Hans hides the Jewish Max Vandenburg, who is the son of a ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Robert Sheehan (II) auditioned for the part of Max Vandenburg. The video with his reading leaked online. See more »
Rudy Steiner wears a winter jumper with a metal zipper. Buttons on children's clothing are much cheaper and much more likely with war-time metal shortages in 1942 Germany. The zipper was mostly seen as a novelty item in this era. See more »
One small fact: you are going to die. Despite every effort, no one lives forever. Sorry to be such a spoiler. My advice is when the time comes, don't panic. It doesn't seem to help.
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"The Book Thief" is certainly a rare kind of film for its day. It gleams like the sun, glistens like rays on the surface of water - for here is a dark tale that lights up the very soul.
I've read several 'professional' reviews for this work and it seems too easy for some Critics to sit in their comfortable cinema seats, or arm chairs in the safety of their homes, and write, what often amount to trite comments. They can read meaning (often their own) into works of crude ugliness, yet feel they have to hide from life affirming warmth.
From the very opening scenes this film draws you in. Some did not like the fact that death (as voice over) begins to tell the story, but this also served to make it all the more compelling. Screen play adapter: Michael Petroni who's been associated with such diverse works as "The Rite" and "Narnia" is equally at home writing for the BIG screen as well as TV. As is talented Director: Brian Percival (Downton Abbey & North and South) Both seem to have given their all, and with no less than 6 various producers, there seemed to be plenty of money to assure superb production values ~ guaranteeing a great look and feel. Director of Photography: German born Florian Ballhaus, captures the magnificence of the carefully selected locations, lifting astounding images from the pages of the book onto the screen.
The cast all work hard to bring to life the characters from Markus Zusak's novel. Child actors can sometimes be hit or miss but award winning Sophie Nelisse (Liesel) is reminiscent of the great Patricia Gozzi from the 60s (Sundays and Cybele '62 & Rapture '65) She convinces over a full range of emotions. Young Nico Liersch scores equally as Rudy.
Some cynical critics seem to have difficulty in understanding the intellect of children forced to grow up in terrible circumstances and may have been unnecessarily harsh. Rush is reliable as always, managing to convey the emotions of a man living with fear, yet playing it down for the sake of his young adopted charge.
John Williams' multi-layered music score brings to mind the style of strong scores that helped breath life into great classics from the past.
Films of this quality have become rare in these days of often foolish, Hollywood comic book action blockbusters, but it's hoped this, along with 'The Railway Man' might see us treated to more intelligent modern cinema. If I'd change anything, perhaps it could be the anticlimactic style of the closing scenes ~ looked as if more may have been added as afterthought, through one too many fade outs (a very minor point)
But more importantly, perhaps, some cynical critics may also be 'reminded of their humanity'.
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