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The Book Thief Review

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Official Summary: Based on the beloved best-selling book comes an “extremely moving” (Leonard Maltin, Indiewire) story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) is adopted by a German couple (OSCAR Winner Geoffry Rush and OSCAR Nominee Emily Watson). Although she arrives illiterate, Liesel is encouraged to learn to read by her adoptive father. When the couple then takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding from Hitler’s army, Liesel befriends him. Ultimately, words and imagination provide the friends with an escape from the events unfolding around them in this extraordinary acclaimed film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

I had the opportunity to read “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak a few years ago with a book group. So, I couldn’t help but compare my reading experience to the movie experience. “The Book Thief” is unique in that it is written from the perspective of a narrator who is not immediately identified. Well, the narrator isn’t really ever identified, but you are able to figure out who it is as you progress through the movie. It can sometimes be difficult to portray a book with a narrator’s voice onto the movie screen. However, in the case of “The Book Thief” it is done well. It is virtually impossible to capture every detail from a book on the big screen, but I was pleased with this interpretation. The story and the feeling of the book came across beautifully in this rendition.

Set in WWII Germany,”The Book Thief” is a contemplative film – dramatic and inspiring. It will make you think – as the book does – not only about the horrors of war, but the beauty of an individual life and the influence for good one soul can have. The juxtoposition of evil and raw humanity is truly striking. The very poignant themes of the narrative are complemented by a subtle musical score and an artistic cinematography style. Watching this film is a moving experience. You can’t help but be emotionally drawn into the plight of sweet Leisel as she tries to make sense of the changing world around her – a world where those she loves seem to keep leaving her.

“The Book Thief” is a beautiful film that will leave you questioning the seemingly senseless sorrow that so many endured, yet holding fast to the hope that exists because of courageous and good people who can’t help but bring beauty to the world simply because of who they are.

I personally wouldn’t recommend this film for younger children – there is thematic violence and the film is simply not one that children will necessarily understand or appreciate. I do, however, highly recommend “The Book Thief” for older children and adults – in my opinion it is a “must see” film (and must read book). While it may not be a thorough study of the events of WWII, it is a stunning look at the human condition and how people and events can mold our lives.

Julie is an OC Supermom to six beautiful children in Orange County. She is an editor with Astraea Press, active in the community and enjoys running in her free time.
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