Movie Review – The Book Thief

The original novel by Markus Zusak

In spite of luke warm reviews from overseas (and some local) reviewers and reading the book (after which one normally is disappointed with the movie), I really enjoyed watching The Book Thief. The story is narrated by ‘Death’ and is the account of a little girl’s WWII experiences. Liesel and Werner Meminger is sent to a couple living in the city – a heart breaking, but selfless act by a mother to save her children’s lives. Her brother doesn’t survive the trip and Liesel ends up alone with Hans and Rosa Hubermann in Himmel (heaven) Street.

Liesel’s last physical memory of her mother and brother was a book she picked up at little Werner’s grave and kept for herself. Thus her book thieving ‘career’ started – in spite of the fact that she couldn’t read. While her relationship with her new mama starts on the wrong foot, it was Hans with whom she clicked instantly and with whom she discovered the freeing world of words.

The Book Thief is a bitter sweet story, full of heartbreak and joy and although it isn’t an all-guts-and-blood version of the war as some movie reviewers seemingly wanted it to be, it is a wonderful story of love and loss and growing up and survival. It is especially delightful if words spin your world too.

The book is one of the most special and weirdest I’ve ever read, and yes, even if a movie can never satisfy as a book does, this movie is a good try. Maybe the reviewers are so used to being fed Hollywood ‘recipe’ films and remakes of remakes of remakes that they can’t recognise a good story anymore if they see one. Liesel’s story certainly remained with me for quite a while and is in fact still lingering in my mind.

The cast is excellent, with Geoffrey Rush his brilliant self as Hans Hubermann, and Emily Watson giving spunk to Rosa. Nobody else could have played Liesel, but Sophie Nélisse, with her large, sparkling, innocent, blue eyes. Nico Liersch playes the lovable, self-confident, scared Rudy with the experience of a veteran, and Ben Schnetzer is inspirational – dancing alone under the stars while all the non-Jewish residents of the town hide away in their bomb shelters during an air raid.

The movie already won three awards and is nominated for seven more. (It is nominated for one Academy Award (Oscar.)

Read the original book by Markus Zusak. Read the original book by Markus Zusak. Read the original book by Markus Zusak.

I declare it a 5/5 movie. (See legend at the bottom.)

c 2014 Riette De Kock


Actors: Roger Allam (narrator), Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch

Age restriction: PG13

Director: Brian Percival

Writer/s: Markus Zusak (novel), Michael Petroni (adaption)

Music: John Williams

Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus

Parental Advice: Always keep to age restrictions.

Language: Swearing, war violence.

Nudity: None.

Sex: None.

Violence: War-like violence occurs.

Offensive Stuff: Prejudice, anti-semitism is portrayed, but not promoted.

5/5 Don’t miss! Do whatever to go and watch the film!

4/5 Good, very watchable, but it may have something to put someone off, or may just not be your cup of tea.

3/5 OK, but if you have something else to do, reconsider and watch it when it comes out on DVD or on TV.

2/5 Pff, why would they waste time to make it and why would you waste your time and money to go and see it?

1/5 Don’t even bother. You have to be paid to watch this and then be recompensed for your time.

0/5 Need I waste words?

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