The Book Thief (2013)

The Book Thief (2013)
  • Time: 125 min
  • Genre: Drama | War
  • Director: Brian Percival
  • Cast: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse


The 550-page, World War II-era novel, narrated by Death, tells the story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken at age 9 to live with a foster family in a German working-class neighborhood. Liesel arrives having just stolen her first book, “The Gravediggers Handbook” — it will be the beginning of a love affair with books.


  • “The Book Thief” is the Markus Zusak’s book, published in 2005, which received a poor advertising campaign, obtaining an equally scant recognition. A year later, “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas” triumphs in the world, and his 2008 adaptation gets a well received box office. Following the history of teen films, “Twilight” becomes an inexplicably popular series, “Harry Potter” ends its legacy in proving his invincibility in lasting literary sagas for movies that grossed an obscene amount of money (like “The Lord of the Rings”, but this was a trilogy), comes potently ” The Hunger Games”. So no matter if a teenager book was a failure in its text, each will have their chance to try their hand on the screen (eg the mediocre saga of “Percy Jackson”). And while “The Book Thief” film qualifies for a modest charm, the problem is the director Brian Percival, who can not avoid the pomposity or classic romance, and it is therefore incompetent to filter clog material of the script The first half hour of the movie is not bad but frustrating, as it is packed with clichés that bothered in “The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas”: an overwhelming amount of Nazi flags through the streets; chanting anti-Semites; the naive boy; the boy dominated by Nazi propaganda; the strict (in this case, the mother and teacher); etc. Inside the rigid materialm there are interesting things: eg when Nico Liersch imagine being Jesse Owens while running (which is a sacrilege to the Nazis); or the protagonist saying that hates Hitler; or one of the villains children in SS uniform (as if he was a boy gangster, eg Robocop 2), or the actress Nelisse clutching a book that survived the burning But after 30 minutes, the film suddenly starts to lift height. The key to success lies in two aspects: the first is the interpersonal relationships. The first minutes of Sophie Nelisse are correct, but when she sets her links with Geoffrey Rush, Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch are really convincing , the performances are very good and dialogues on these occasions remain passable. Even some absurdities are accepted (eg when the protagonist and her Jewish friend parody an imaginary conversation with the hitler’s late mother and this dictator, or occasional poetic phrases). The link of Nelisse with these three characters is deeply felt, but the script can not avoid the absurd sentimentality, eg the departure of Max (How can survive a Jew in a country of extreme and relentless persecution?), Or when Emily Watson notifies to Nelisse in the school that Max is recovering from his illness: Could not she wait until her daughter comes home?, or the writer believed that telling her at school would be an even more emotionally resonant scene? The only discord is Emily Watson, who can not overcome the awkwardness the script: first she is put in the position of housewife strict, and then changes her stance at a flexible woman, but this shift occurs without much evolutionary diplomacy, and she is still just a character. But which deserves applause is Geoffrey Rush: a great actor and he proved his most excellent talent in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” saga as Captain Barbossa, and the biography “The Life and Death of Peter Sellers” (also with Emily Watson). Here, he has half the talent than the film of Sellers, and is still great. Rush is just wonderful The second positive aspect is the urbanization of the universe. By not trying the Holocaust (whose original geography is outside the populated areas), there is not much room for the insufferable melodrama of field. But urbanization also contributes to even nominally assemble a chronology of historical events of the post-1937 Nazi Germany. Then, as the film unfolds, we see in the background occasionally traces of Kristallnatch (The Night of Broken Glass); one of the boys of the cast announcing that England declared war; jewish prisoners marchs, the bombing of Berlin (probably the British counterattack, 1941-42), the newspaper ad from operation Barbarossa After some interesting elements that enhance the film. One is that people do not own formed opinion with anti-Semitism: they can see how a person is taken prisoner without saying anything racist, but neither they get to defend (except for the protagonist). Another detail is that the main family lives in a state of economic misery , a situation that could change if Rush joined the Nazis (a moral dilemma presented in the film “It Happened Here”), but as it does not happens, then is the character of Watson who plays the role of male breadwinner Where “The Book Thief” shows its serious limitations is in the direction of the core of the protagonist with her books. Lacks weight, and despite being the raison d’ etre of the book by Zusak, the director could have edited it without affecting the rest. But instead, Percival when it comes to those moments, he strikes a light flair that goes against the rest of the film. The Off voice of the death is too mischievous and intelligent subtracting seriousness, plus his presence is irregular (three or four times in the film, no more). When the protagonist is connected with her books, the director intersperses footage of pages of books that blend with specific letters or words, and adds a classic feature music (courtesy of John Williams): these elements does not fit to the rest of the work. “The Book Thief” is an uneven film. It was necessary a director more serious who leaked the mediocre portions of the script, or direct with best height. Or honestly, change the screenwriter Michael Petroni, known for mediocrity as “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and “The Rite”. The film works in the small details and in the field of personal ties, hence the overall quality is as competent as moderately satisfactory

  • The British film critics have generally slated this film. May I suggest that most of them don’t have children or don’t have empathy with children for I found it a masterpiece for those aged between 9-15 and an enjoyable if sad film for other age groups.I took three of my three grandchildren aged 10, 11 and 14 to see it , and with everybody else in the cinema were using tissues to wipe the tears away by the end of the film.My 14 year old thought it was the best film she has ever seen and the other two have not stopped asking questions about the history of the time. This is NOT a holocaust story. I honestly believe that some of the film critics who reviewed this film did not even see it! Because they did not know what is about. An illiterate girl who wants to learn to read and overcomes all obstacles in terrible circumstances. The Book Thief should be put on all secondary school’s syllabus. And I expect that this fable, because that what it is will finish up having , like another fable ” Its a wonderful life” becoming a family favourite.

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