Version: 2013; starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson
Genre: drama, WWII
Plot Summary: Liesel Meminger has been orphaned by the circumstances of WWII and adopted by a new set of parents in a different town. She is also new at school and ashamed to admit she cannot read. But Papa helps to educate her as he learns to improve his schooling as well. Meanwhile, there are other things to be learned while living in Germany during the time of the Third Reich.
My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not by comparing it to that novel. Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book.
This was a film that had my interest from the first, but I didn’t have a chance to watch it until a little while ago. The trailer looked so intriguing, and I guess I get my interest in WWII history from my mom. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it included the actor Geoffrey Rush in a major role. His voice is one of my favorites (he played the voice of Nigel the Pelican on Finding Nemo).
The Book Thief was interesting in that it followed the story of a German civilian (Liesel) throughout the duration of the WWII. Because of the perspective, it sort of reminded me of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, another film I would recommend. Liesel is involved with the Hitler Youth and other activities just like many other young people her age. Her adoptive parents aren’t too particularly anti-Hitler, but aren’t entirely for him, either. However, they go with the flow as many do and keep the peace.
That is, until a young Jewish man enters their home and they are compelled to hide him in their basement. Liesel doesn’t completely understand what is going on, only that Max is her friend and she wants to protect him.
I really did enjoy this movie, but I get a sense that the book was probably better. There were parts (mostly at the beginning) that I didn’t understand. Why was Liesel’s mother taken away? What exactly happened to her brother? What was the burgermeister’s reasons for banning Liesel? What’s the deal with the abstract narrator called Death? Although the story was called “The Book Thief”, that really wasn’t so much of the plot. It was hard to suspend disbelief when several years go by, yet Liesel and her girlhood crush Rudy don’t appear to get any older. But I did get a kick out of the Christmas scene in the basement, where the family smuggles in snow, has a snowball fight and builds a snowman. “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever done!” Rosa states. 😀 I also really liked the scene where Liesel enjoys a good book at the burgermeister’s library. The colors, mood, and design are something I would like to replicate someday for my own personal library.
Another thing I appreciated is that the end of the story takes a different twist that I did not expect, as real life sometimes does. It was sad, but not altogether so. There is not really ‘content’ issues. This film is based on a YA book and I was glad to see it kept age appropriate. But there is what you would expect in a story that takes place during such a time as 1940’s Germany, and there are beatings, bombings, etc.
I would recommend this, but parents will probably want to watch it with their kids and decide what age it’s appropriate for.