Reviewed by David Savage
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse
Directed by: Brian Percival
Running Time: 131 minutes (approx.)
Release Date: 7 July 2014
The Book Thief is based on the novel by Markus Zusak and is based around 9 year old Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) in Nazi Germany during World War II and the effect she has on the lives of the people around her. The film is narrated by Death who explains how busy he was during World War II.
After her mother can no longer care for children and taken away Liesel and her younger brother are taken away to be fostered by another family. Liesel’s younger brother does not survive journey and while at the funeral Liesel finds a book. Although illiterate she takes the book not knowing how to read it or even what it is about. Liesel is adopted by the Hubermann’s – her stepmother, Rosa (Emily Watson), is harsh, rude and abrupt while her stepfather, Hans (Geoffrey Rush), is the complete opposite and is kind and caring but they both have big hearts.
Hans teaches Liesel to read and write using the book she found, The Grave Digger’s Handbook and starts her fascination with reading, words and stories.
When the Hubermann’s take in a young man called Max (Ben Schnetzer), Liesel befriends him, But when he becomes sick she starts stealing books from the burgermeister’s (mayor) house, with the help of the burgermeister’s wife, to read to him. The words, stories and imagination give them both an escape from the war and Hitler’s hatred for non-German people.
Overall, The Book Thief is a compelling story of death and destruction, racism, Nazi’s, book burning and one illiterate girl’s fascination with books, words and reading.
A brilliant film with great performances from the entire cast especially the young Sophie Nélisse.
An emotional film that is definitely worth seeing and I now have to read the book.
Available to buy from Amazon here.