The Book Thief is a bitter sweet American-German war drama directed by Brian Percival, set during the Second World War. Based on the original novel by Markus Zusak, this film adaption by Michael Petroni tells the story of a young girl called Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) who is forced to live with German foster parents after her brother passes away, and her communist mother flees.
This emotion fuelled film follows Liesel as her confidence builds and she begins to make new friends (this mainly being her neighbour Rudy, played by Nico Liersch) and finds a new passion for reading. After her foster father, Hans (played by Geoffrey Rush) discovers that she can’t read, he helps her to learn word by word and creates dictionary walls for her in their cellar where she can write new words that she learns.
Things start to change for the family when the son of an old friend of Hans, and also a communist (Max) comes to their family home seeking shelter during one night. Battered and ill, Hans and his strict wife, Rosa (Emily Watson) take him in and hide him. Being the Nazi era, if they are caught then they will be in some severe trouble.
Liesel and Max develop a strong bond and her reading to him helps him to get better, but Max knows that he can’t stay forever after all the family have done to help him. This film hits upon many topics, but love, loss and growing up are at fore front of the story.
I don’t want to give any more of the storyline away, but what I will say is that I have never watched a film that has made me want to smile, laugh and cry all at the same time. This powerful film is a stunning piece of cinematography with a cast to match.
Narrated by death (Roger Allam), this added an extra lump in the throat power to the film. Although gloomy, death provided another perspective that in fact did help to guide you through the story, dragging you down to centre of the emotion when necessary and lifting you up when you could take no more.
Geoffrey Rush offered a stunning performance as Hans, who played a genuinely loving father from the heart, Sophie Nélisse was the perfect actress to play Liesel with her doll like features, she played her role with perfect innocence and finally a mention goes to Nico Liersch who plays the character Rudy with real love, humour and compassion.
I have to say the ending of the film was very unexpected and really pulled at my heart strings, but the final scenes offered the icing on the cake that picked the film up and left me feeling blown away when leaving the cinema.
I would highly recommend The Book Thief; but don’t forget your tissues!
Check out the trailer below:
Words by Michelle Stannard