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Tag Archives: 1940’s

Movie Review: The Book Thief

d326e3e8deb69479ae2a56a451ab07e8Based on the book by Markus Zusak.

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.

1ea864bc74e07178ed875aaca980711bI 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.

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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Book Review: “Matorni’s Vineyard,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim

serveimageGenre: futuristic; suspense; intrigue

Plot Summary: Mervyn Amory is a British tennis player on his way to Monte Carlo for a holiday.  He takes a train trip that turns out to be anything but leisurely.  When an Italian spy passes on vital information to him just before he is assassinated, who will Mervyn trust?  Can we trust him?  And who is the beautiful Italian diva who has close ties to the Princess?

My Book Review: It’s been a few years since I’ve dipped into Oppenheim, but I have to say this was much more interesting to me than the last two I’ve read.  It had a flavor of The Great Impersonation, as far as the intrigue and atmosphere go.  It wasn’t hard to read, and provided some fun entertainment.

The best part was that it kept you guessing about who you could trust. I can’t say there were any huge plot twists that maybe the average reader wouldn’t see coming, but yet it keeps one suspecting everyone– even the main character.

I felt disappointed in how the Dictator was treated in the end. SPOILER ALERT: I felt the winners dealt him too soft a hand and they dared to trust someone to continue leading a large European country who had just threatened to pitch the continent into another world war.  Who’s to say he wouldn’t ever try something like that again?  On the other hand, I suppose this type of international dealing is realistic, considering how the world treated Hitler and Germany before WWII. END OF SPOILER. Oppenheim set his book in the 1940’s, which would have made the tale futuristic for readers at the time it was published in 1928.  Of course, the dictator-character Matorni represents Mussolini himself.  Oppenheim also had some of this type of foresight in my favorite of his (The Great Impersonation).

I loved the exotic location set in Monaco. Although the story is not historical, the details feel accurate, as if they were.  There is a romance as a side plot included, but I can’t say it was very believable because of how fast it occurred in such a short amount of time.  But if you want a bit of ‘alternate history’ type genre, this might interest you.

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Used Book Shopping at Thrift Stores

Ah!  🙂  Time to grab a chai and a blanket and for a little ‘random book shopping’ post!  There aren’t a ton this time around, but I can tell you I was pretty excited over these:

*This was the best find out of all of them!  Have you heard of the story of Diet Eman?  This brave young Dutch woman defied the Nazis along with her fiancé in hiding Jews during WWII.  About ten years ago, I listened to a recorded speech she gave that aired on Focus on the Family.  It was split into two parts and I remember being so engrossed in the Part 1 and not wanting to miss the next day’s continuation.  But I was unable to at that time (didn’t have the benefit of looking up past programs on the internet), and was so sorry to have missed it.  A short time later after moving to another state, I saw a flyer announcing a small community theater performing a play based on Diet Eman’s biography.  It was said that Diet herself may be there to meet and greet afterward!  I was so excited and we all bought tickets.  The play (named after the book, “Things We Couldn’t Say”) was riveting.  Unfortunately, Ms. Eman (who is now quite elderly) couldn’t make it that night and we never got to meet her.  But.  I was looking through the wealth of books at a local Salvation Army store and came across her autobiography in great condition.  And when I opened it up… I saw she had autographed it!  !!!!!  How COOL is that?!  I am so thrilled and honored to have a book signed by her own hand to keep for my own and pass on.  It is my hope that I get to meet her one day in person.

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You never know what you might find at a thrift store!  Do you have any special book finds?  Please share!

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2017 in Book Shopping

 

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P.L. Travers Christmas story on BBC

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I came across a beautifully dramatized Christmas story on BBC this afternoon, originally written as a short story by P. L. Travers.  It’s called “The Fox at the Manger” and the voices and music are lovely to listen to.  Actress Wendy Hiller lends voice as the narrator.  It would make a great bedtime story for children this holiday season.  It is available for a limited time only.

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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Edgar Harrell’s Story

d0514d0abee471e4c05a881c3932ed31Not one weekend newspaper goes by that I don’t see at least one -if not several- World War II veteran obituaries.  It is estimated that 430 of the ‘greatest generation’ vets pass away each day.  So with Independence Day approaching, I thought I’d post a link to the story of a noble WWII vet with a remarkable survival story.  I remember listening to Edgar Harrell being interviewed years ago by Charles Morris on Haven Today.  It was such an edge-of-your-seat true tale that we didn’t dare miss the next day’s episode!  I wasn’t able to find that same interview unfortunately, but you can listen to Harrell’s interview on In the Market with Janet Parshall by clicking here.  You can also watch him tell his story on a video posted below.  Edgar wrote an autobiography about his experiences called “Out of the Depths.”  I highly recommend this to you!  And don’t forget to say thank you to the veterans who fought for your freedom (regardless of which war) in your life!

 

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“The Goebbels Experiment”

023adc95ba40c93716a80dd303688acbI recently watched a riveting documentary, The Goebbels Experiment.  Using text taken completely from Joseph Goebbel’s diary and speeches, the film documents the Nazi Minister of Propaganda’s life, especially his work in the years leading up and during the Second World War.  Goebbel’s voice is narrated by Kenneth Branagh, and his acting made for a completely believable retelling of what happened.

There are no graphic descriptions of the mass murders that took place during the holocaust.  However, there is some disturbing film footage of Goebbels, his wife Magda, and their six little children after they were found dead at the end of the war.  There is also a brief description near the beginning of the film of a passionate love affair Goebbels was involved in with a girlfriend.  I wouldn’t recommend this for children, obviously.  Parents would be well advised to preview it for older kids first.

It was eye-opening, and a bit creepy to be a viewer to so much material about the Nazi “spin doctor.”  I found it educational in learning how Nazis like Goebbels thought, how they manipulated the public’s perception of information, and could see similarities in things going on in the modern world today.  I highly recommend this film– the more we learn from history, the more alert we are to the things going on around us.

 

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2016 in Movie Reviews

 

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Book Review: All God’s Children, by Anna Schmidt

17214101Genre: drama; romance; historical fiction (WWII); Inspirational fiction

Plot Summary: Beth Bridgewater is an American Quaker living with her aunt and uncle in wartorn Germany, WWII.  It’s a dangerous time and place to be, where one must keep quiet and try to stay safe.  But Beth seems to involve herself in nothing but trouble while trying to help others less fortunate.  When her uncle takes on a surprising new tenant, Josef, no one is quite sure if he can be trusted.  Josef is involved in his own dangerous plans to make his beloved Germany free again, and together Beth and Josef may be able to make a difference in others’ lives.

My Book Review:  I was curious to read this book because the combination of pacifist Quakers during a WWII setting seemed an interesting story line.  I’m not sure that I’ve ever read a fiction book featuring a Quaker heroine before.  I also had forgotten that I have several Quaker ancestors going back to the 1600’s.

I was glad to discover the author wrote with some depth—in no way did I feel the story was tacky or shallow.  The chapters weren’t too lengthy, had some amount of chapter breaks, and I could make quick progress when I applied myself.

I loved reading about the interesting story setting during such a dangerous time: Munich, Germany.  What would it be like to live in a place where literally anyone at anytime could be arrested for any little excuse?  Anna Schmidt did an excellent job at capturing the fear permeating everyday life of ordinary people.  I also enjoyed her descriptions which provided realistic atmosphere to the story.  I could feel the heat, see the colors, and hear the sounds she wrote about.

However, nearing midway through the book, I found myself not really feeling too concerned for the characters.  I felt that the story was told somewhat at ‘arm’s length’, meaning that only the parts of the story that were ‘convenient’ were related, with chunks of time left out or glossed over.  I can see the author not wanting to bog us down with scenes unnecessary to the plot.  But it interrupted the flow of the story and made me feel distanced from the characters.

jesus1I was able to learn more concerning Quakers as I read about Beth and her family, but was surprised to learn how much their faith is different from my own.  The book is appropriately titled, “All God’s Children,” a strong prevalent belief in Quaker teaching.  A character makes a statement in the book that even Hitler was born with the Inner Light, but must have eventually closed himself off to it.  I cannot agree.  I don’t want to make this book review a full-out theological debate, but as an evangelical Christian I believe no one can be born at physical birth into the kingdom of God.  We either choose to accept His gracious gift of eternal life or not.  However, I will add that in my reading up on Quakers, I learned that different sects of Quakers believe a myriad of different things (some are closer to evangelical Christianity), so they may not all hold with this particular belief.  I went into this story knowing I was going to be reading of people different from myself, but I do make a bit of an argument for this particular book being categorized under Christian fiction.  Inspirational category, perhaps, but not Christian.

The romance between Josef and Beth is a healthy love story without becoming edgy.  The devotion they had for each other during such a serious time in history was admirable, especially near the end where the plot takes an unexpected twist and the characters make decisions when they are unsure what will happen next.  But I had to wonder a little about the obvious unequally yoked relationship they had.  Beth is a devout Quaker.  Josef doesn’t seem to have any religious beliefs when they form their relationship together and Beth doesn’t seem to have a problem with this.  SPOILER ALERT: Though Josef does start to embrace Beth’s faith near the end of the story, this is after the two have married.  END OF SPOILER.

The last quarter stretch of the book definitely had me on the edge of my seat!  It was one of those adrenaline rush endings where you’re not sure who will make it in the end.  If you’re interested in something a little different than the usual WWII historical novels, this book might interest you.

Despite some of my disagreements, I am interested in reading the next books in the series:

Peacemakers Series, by Anna Schmidt:

1)  “All God’s Children”

2)  “Simple Faith”

3)  “Safe Haven”

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2015 in Book Reviews

 

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