Friday, 8 August 2014

The Book Thief

Anyone who reads reviews written by me may find themselves confused and unsettled by the proceeding one, being that I actually really enjoyed The Book Thief. Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray and Film tie-in alternate Book cover is Brian Percival’s adaptation starring the incredibly brilliant youngling that is Sophie NĂ©lisse. To paraphrase the back of a DVD box I once read, ‘you will have to watch this film twice, once to remind you how brilliant the book is, and secondly to remind you how brilliant the film is’. They absolutely nailed every second of the reading experience, and that is a thing that I am infrequently able to claim.

The film is narrated by Death; he is charming and introduces himself by gently taking the soul of a young child on a train. The child is buried at the side of the tracks and his sister impulsively steals a book dropped by one of the gravediggers. His mother and sister are communists, and the children were being fostered off to a loving family in a tiny village that no one is likely to pay too much attention to. The strict mother and the child-at-heart father welcome Liesel into their family and protect her from Nazis, getting herself killed and the usual WWII teenage worries.

Liesel gets into trouble at school for not being able to read or write, which brings Rudy, a young Aryan boy, to her aid and the two become best friends. When she gets home she talks to her new father about learning to read and she becomes hooked, even though the only book she has turns out to be a gravedigger’s handbook. One night Liesel’s family decides to harbour a Jewish man called Max and keep him safe from being taken away and killed, or given some lovely cake and a cup of German tea if you’re a holocaust denier... Nazi’s are dicks… though you have to admit they have a lovely vibrant red flag, and the Hugo Boss outfits are fabulous. They are still dicks though. Which I assume doesn’t need saying.

Anyway, all the Hugo Boss clad evil people are bombing and plundering all over the place, and the allies are bombing shit left and right, and though it’s fair to say that the world has since come to a consensus on which one of those two armies were in the right, for Liesel and her friends there is a struggle to understand what’s going on. They want Germany to win the war but they don’t want all their friends and family to be slaughtered, they don’t understand why nice quiet men are being taken away. All Liesel wants to do is read books and all Rudy wants to do is run, kick balls and kiss Liesel but instead they have to deal with the feelings of participating in a genocide.

Anyone who has read the book may know that it is originally a children’s book and aimed at the younger teens, but it deals with very grim, horrible subject matters like genocide. So the film has a tone of Hugo or some other children’s film mixed with the peripheral characters of Schindler’s List. I think it’s handled very well indeed and as a fan of the book, this film was executed really well, with fabulous performances from everyone involved, particularly the children who didn’t seem to suffer from the weird acting issues that people like Carl from The Walking Dead has to deal with.

I’m giving The Book Thief a 4/5 for being better than good.


Dave Roberts

The Book Thief at CeX

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