The Book Theif

November 22nd, 2013  |  Published in Recent Reviews

book thief xlg The Book TheifBrian Percival’s “The Book Thief,” based on the novel of the same name, is a refreshing cinematic take on World War II Germany and one girl’s indirect battle with the countries intellectual principals-fought through the pages of different novels.

Take Note: Comparing a novel to its cinematic counterpart is like comparing…well apples to oranges. They are two completely different things that cater to completely different audiences and should not be done. If this is the type of analytical comparison you seek do not read any further.

Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nelisse) and her brother (Julian Lehmann) are sent to stay with a foster family in Germany during World War II. On the train her brother dies leaving Liesel alone and searching for an anchor in a time of war. With the help and encouragement of her foster parents and Max, a Jewish refugee living under their staircase, Liesel learns to read and discovers beauty in words during an otherwise turbulent period of time.

One would speculate that a film narrated by death (voice of Roger Allam in the film) would prove to be a horrific feature length rendition of Spike TV’s “1000 Ways to Die”-thankfully, this is not the case. “The Book Thief” is a film of wonder, inspiration and joy.

Audiences will embrace Liesel’s passion when she pulls books from a pile of burning pages out of curiosity for what story exists between the covers, or when she breaks into the estate of a government official to “borrow” readings from their library filled with endless knowledge. It will be hard to resist the urge to smile as Liesel reads the words from a grave-diggers instruction manual (her first book,) and attempts to take a copy of “Mein Kampf” from their Jewish guest simply because it is a book. The film overflows with moments that will make you laugh, cringe, potentially cry and wish that the productions run time was just a little longer.

There is little to say regarding the mechanics of the film itself because it is so spectacularly done. The dynamic between Liesel and her best friend/neighbor Rudy is so well crafted there isn’t a moment of superficiality or untruth.  The film’s plot is simple yet addictively engaging and the dialogue exchanged between characters is, for the most part, witty and comforting, yet somber and relate-able.

“The Book Thief,” in its essence, can only be described in one word- absolutely amazing (adjectives do not count.) It is a motion picture that everyone can enjoy and could be used as an intelligent method of introducing World War II and the general themes that are associated with it to younger audiences.  However, viewers should be warned that after seeing “The Book Thief” one may be encourage to steal the book. Not with the motive of comparing the two, but because you will not be able to get enough of it.

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