What I enjoyed most about the film was how death is introduced as a character. It's the voice of death which is used throughout the film to narrate much of what has happened in the past.
It's death who introduces Liesel, Sophie Nelisse, in the opening scenes and death who fills in her life story in the closing scenes. He's in and out throughout the film gently taking souls while passing on his own unique and inspiring message about all he has learnt about us, the human family. Very philosophical and really quite beautiful. His speech in the closing scenes was so uplifting I was almost moved to tears.
The story concentrates on the war in Germany and focuses upon the growth of the Nazi's and the impact that has on a small town in which Liesel is taken to live with 'adopted' parents. Liesel can't read much at first but develops a passion for books. A passion that will remain throughout her life and one that's encouraged by her new 'papa' and the Jewish boy, Max, hiding from the Nazi's in their cellar.
Some of the darker events of the times are shown but the film doesn't concentrate only on the fate of the Jews. It goes to great length to highlight the absolute racism and discrimination of the Nazi's even against their own people. There are a couple of great scenes set around Jessie Owens, American track and field Olympic gold medalist, which I thought were particularly well done. What 'The Book Thief' is asking you to consider is the effect an extraordinary war had upon ordinary people and how it impacted upon love, friendship and family.
We bought the DVD last week and I've watched it twice. It really is a good movie and such a clever blend of dark/light, sad/happy. I'm more than happy to recommend.
The Book Thief is on one DVD and runs for approx. 131 minutes. The film has a '12' classification and I wouldn't recommend it for children much younger as there are some strong themes and some violence.
The film takes place in Nazi Germany. The opening narration is done by Mr. G. Reaper (Roger Allam). Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is going to live with new parents. Unknown to her at this time, her mother was taken away because she was a communist. Liesel lives with some good Germans who care for her as their own. She is illiterate but takes a shine to reading. Liesel gets engrossed in reading books, while her loving adopted Papa (Geoffrey Rush) walks the fine line by hiding Max (Ben Schnetzer) a Jew whose father saved his life in WWI. The film gets its title from the fact Liesel would steal (and then return) books from the Burgermeister.
The film contains both the feeling on impending doom and hope simultaneously. I felt like I was reading poetry while I watched the film. It was executed that well. The performances were spectacular.
Must see film for those who love a great movie. It is an Oscar worthy film for Brian Percival. I appreciate what you did even if the Academy did not.
on 8 December 2014
I had no interest in watching this film; however I was heavily hungover and therefore unable to move from the sofa when it was decided that we were going to watch it....
Really pleased I was unable to resist because this is an incredible film with a hard working cast that bring alive a touching script during an extremely tough time (WW2).
What I loved most about this film is the fact it showed a different side to Germany during the war, it doesn’t shy away from the fact that not everyone was a nazi during WW2 and that in contrast a lot of German people were just living in fear of them, and it does this in such a good but subtle way that when the residents are experiencing being bombed you feel worried and concerned for them despite the fact it’s obviously the allied forces dropping the bombs.
If I was German I might feel a little annoyed that the only time they used actual German in the film is when they wanted to show aggressive nazi speeches or commands, and although I understand why that was done it did feel slightly unfair.
All the cast were exceptional but Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and Nico Liersch played their roles to an outstanding degree. I really recommend anyone watching this film even if you initially think it’s not the sort of film you would enjoy.
Oh and the narration by death was the icing on the cake, beautifully done.
on 5 March 2014
Having read reviews of this film suggesting its viewing should be accompanied by a box of Kleenex, I promised myself from the outset that I would simply not cry over this one. (I have a reputation for being somewhat emotional, even when just watching TV adverts.) However, my resolve went out of the window as, after having now seen said film at my local cinema last night, I came away desperately dabbing at my eyes in the hope that my economy mascara had not smudged too badly. For it is indeed an emotional film. It is also quite an unusual one in that it mixes the abstract with intense drama. I have not read the book (though I fully intend to now) but understand that it has a much more ethereal quality about it. Thus, it would have been difficult to reproduce that on the screen, other than in limited amounts. Therefore the film starts, and is infrequently returned to, narration by a storyteller who is in fact `death' personified. And this, along with spectacular cinematography, helps to give it a kind of misty-eyed, almost magical feel.
The subject matter, however, is far from that. The viewer is shown the harsh realities of life in Nazi-rising WW11 Germany. And, it's quite a shock actually to discover that they, like us Brits, were just as scared, just as poverty-stricken and just as much at the mercy of the Hitler-led regime. Young Sophie Nelisse, the actress in the lead-role of Liesel, lends a wide-eyed innocence to the whole proceedings and is well supported by a talented Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson in the roles of her adoptive parents, who take her on (for money ) when she is removed from her own communist mother's care. Harbouring a young Jewish man, Max, is the centre of the story and it is Liesel's relationship with all three of the afore-mentioned, and a neighbouring school friend, Rudy, that fuel it.
Having arrived illiterate, Liesel is taught to read and write by `Papa' Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush), whose patience, kindness and humour are ever to the fore, and which contrast sharply with the "thunder storm" (Liesel's words) that is his wife, Rosa (Emily Watson) - who actually is not quite as formidable as she might at first seem. Liesel's quest for books, reading, and words in general, is further aided by Max's enthusiasm for such. He relies on her to keep him informed of the world, as his view is somewhat marred by being kept in the dark, cold basement of the house, unable to see the light of day. Liesel's hunger for books is both sated and increased when the local Mayor's wife allows her access to the mayorial household library - from where she later `borrows' the odd tome after creeping in uninvited. (She insists she is not a "thief" - as the film's title would suggest!)
I will not spoil the plotline for those who have not yet seen this little gem of a movie, suffice to say that, as mentioned in the book's 'blurb' I believe, "death visits Liesel three times". She certainly grows up quickly and, like so many of that era, witnesses things that young eyes should really not see. But it is how she, and those around her, cope with adversity that is central to this film, where hatred and morality vie for places, and where neighbour is turned against neighbour and fear and suspicion are the order of the day. Surviving can only make one stronger and there are some surprising twists that develop in that very plot-line; fate can indeed be teasingly, and often ironically, fickle.
I hope this film gets the appreciation (and awards) it deserves as it is beautifully scripted, sensitively directed, superbly acted and tantalising to watch (I didn't even notice that two and a half hours had passed.) The sadness and sheer stupidity of fascism at its height is off-set by the realisation of the strength of the human spirit to transcend such darkness. In the end, I was left feeling sad (in that sort of deeply moved way that only a great cinematic experience seems to evoke) yet also inspired and uplifted.
This is without a doubt one of the most riveting, thought-provoking, and utterly powerful movies for young people (or any people, for that matter). Unlike most movies for young people, which usually encourage selfishness, lust, and who knows what else, this is a film that promotes such qualities as self-sacrifice, courage in the face of unspeakable difficulties, and using your life to make a difference for others.
Based on Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief expertly tells the story of a young German girl named Liesel, who is thrust into the horrors of World War II Germany and its many complications. The scope of the story is seen through the eyes of Liesel, making it quite an intimate tale that is less about war and more about the importance of remaining human in inhuman surroundings, and affecting those around you in a positive and profound way.
The film is hauntingly beautiful, and moves at an effortless pace- not too fast, not too slow- allowing the viewers to become immersed in the realities of Liesel's situation. Lovely Sophie Nelisse is stunningly perfect in the role of Liesel, capturing both the bright-eyed innocence and the eventual world-weary quality needed for the role. Liesel's good-natured friend Rudy is also expertly and realistically portrayed by young Nico Liersch. It is a delight to watch such wonderful young actors at work. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, of course, are their usual extraordinary selves as Liesel's adoptive parents.
This is truly a movie that is not just for young people. It operates on many levels, as a commentary on the disastrous effects of World War II or a poignant tale of one small soul fighting for her own sense of humanity. While it might be a bit intense for small children, a film such as this should be mandatory viewing for older children and teenagers- a thoughtful and heart-tugging reminder of the fragility of life, and the importance of looking beyond yourself. It is the sort of film that will leave viewers young and old just a bit speechless.
on 15 December 2014
Regrettably I had missed seeing "The Book Thief" earlier this year when it was on general release at the cinema. I did buy the eBook prior to it's release but, on this occasion, had decided to wait to see the film adaptation before reading the book which (in most cases tends to create a more personal affinity between the reader and characters & settings of the story).
I eventually got around to watching the film last night and from the very opening line was drawn into a world of breathtaking beauty, heartbreaking sorrow and the fortunes of a collection of real life people caught up amidst the atrocities of World War 2 which manages to be an ever present threat despite the absence of any battlefield footage.
Not wanting to give any spoilers but "The Book Thief" is without a doubt one of the most captivating films I have seen all year. It brought tears of joy and sorrow in equal measure, the fact that it is told from the perspective of German citizens was a real stroke of genius and shows that for all of our assumed differences in our own national ideologies, each and every one of us are the same. It's this identity which shows war and intolerance to be the sham that it is and a crime against all humanity. A crime that is somehow self-perpetuating despite the realisation we all have that it is in no-one's interests to pursue excepting the independent or commercial warmongers who stand to gain personal profit at the expense of innocent lives corrupted into thinking that they are fighting for the cause of good.
"The Book Thief" is a rare and beautiful thing, a real game changer when it comes to helping us think of the bigger picture and our own individual live choices are meticulously watched by a very ordinary clad but nonetheless omnipresent character of Death himself who never misses his appointments but can sometimes wonder at the complexities of what it is really like to be alive.
The story is set in 'Germany' during 'World War 2' starting a little before
when 'Liesel' and her brother are being taken to live with 'Hans' and
'Rosa Hubermann' their mother can no longer cope, sadly 'Liesel's'
brother dies before the journey ends.
When 'Liesel' attends her new school the children mock her because
she cannot read.
Her new 'Papa' 'Hans' sets about teaching his adopted daughter...
Some little while later the family are joined by a young man 'Max' a 'Jew'
who is hiding from the 'Nazi' authorities.
These are cruel times in 'Nazi Germany' 'Jews' are openly abused by
'party' members (of course this turned more sinister)
'Lieslel' befriends 'Max' however the family are taking a huge risk sheltering
him, 'Han's' gets 'Leisel' to promise not to tell anyone of their new guest.
To make ends meet 'Rosa' takes in washing and ironing work from home,
one day she sends 'Liesel' with the washing she does for the 'Burgermeister'
and his wife to their home and told to ensure she brings the payment back
home, when at the fine home she is invited in and, because she'd caught
a glance, was shown the library by the 'Burgermeister's' wife and invited to
start reading a book she'd seen.
However some while later when the master of the house see's 'Liesel' in his
home reading, he bans her, and ceases the washing/ironing work her mama
does for him.
'Liesel's' school pal 'Rudy' guesses that they have a guest in the 'Hubermann'
home, the conversation is overheard by 'bully' 'Frans' which adds to the risk
'Max' falls ill, 'Liesel' finds a way through the 'Burgemeister's library window
and borrows books to read to her sick friend.
Inevitably War reaches their small town all too soon.
(Because many cities in the U.K received massive loss of life and devastation,
we tend to forget what we dealt out in return, this film brings home the truth
that innocent lives were lost on both sides as portrayed in this film)
The film is enchanting, addictive, often heart-warming very moving and sometimes
sad, the story will almost certainly pull you in from the very beginning, and yes it
may well be an idea to have 'tissues' handy.
Superb performances from the cast members.
The picture and sound quality is excellent.
*A hidden truth.
*Bringing the Book Thief to life.
*An Inspirational history.
*Bringing the past to life.
*The legend and the music.
on 14 August 2014
I read this book a while back, i loved the naration by death himself! it was a poignant moving story about a street in Germany under the Hitler regime! burning books apparantly inspired this HORSEMAN OF THE APOCALYPSE to burn the very souls of humanity!
The movie was not as brilliant as the book, but i know how hard it is to translate pages to movies - however you dont need to read the book to watch this movie!
Its a wonderful adventure about a young girl during the Nazi regime who simply has a thirst for knowledge and steals books! borrows books takes books from burning fires - she is an inspiration to death - the narrator! and to all who watches this movie or who reads the book!
on 20 September 2014
Liesel is a Jewish girl who is fostered to a German couple by her Jewish mother just as the anti-semetic aggression comes to a boiling point before WWII in Germany. Liesel is alone at first taking little comfort from people who try to befriend her but stands her ground to those who would attack her. The story takes place over the years before and during WWII and we see hoe Liesel adapts to her new life and discovers the joy of books.
I have heard much criticism that this film is too family friendly and not gritty enough. It might be true as some have said it is not true to the darkness of the book itself. I have not read the book - but after this film I just might. Whether or not it follows the book religiously the story is clear and the acting and cinematography draws you in.
This is not for young children but certainly older children will gain an insight into WWII Germany that we miss in our schools - the perspective of the Allies. This is good all round film that might bring some tears and some laughs. We really felt that we connected with the characters though we knew none of the actors. The most interesting part is the narrator (Death) who looks upon the story unfolding with a fascinated eye and commentary on human behaviour. The closing lines of the film were particularly poignant and will stick with us.
on 4 April 2014
I really enjoyed this film, my mum took me to see it after I read the book, I enjoyed it so much I went to see at second time, If given the choice I would have probably seen three times but with the cinema being miles away from home and my mum not wanting to see it a 3rd time I had no choice but to wait until it comes out on DVD :) I would recommend to all ages.