Film Review – The Book Thief.


The Book Thief – based on the novel by Markus Zusak

Emily Watson in The Book Thief

While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

As with any adaptation, details are inevitably shaved off in favour of a more rounded, flowing format.  This film suffers from that treatment whilst still managing to hold on to Zusak’s heart-warming tale, delivering an enjoyable movie on the whole.

I think when you’ve read the book, scenes in your head are unique to the reader.  When Liesel first approaches the Mayor’s house to deliver washing, I had a dejavu.  What I saw on screen was exactly what was in my head when I read the book – bizarre!

Moments I remembered or waited for, were missed out or merged to allow content flow.  Such as how Liesel stole the books with Rudy, from the Mayor’s wife.  Also, I felt that the unspoken relationship between the Mayor’s wife and Liesel could have been depicted better.  The book which was thrown into to river was the Hitler book, however, in the novel it was one of the stolen books.

The marches of the Jews through the town, and what Hans and Liesel did were innacurate in the movie which was slightly disappointing.  I realise that these scenes could have been quite harrowing, but the direction to soften these scenes surely left out some potentially powerful moments on screen.

Max’s hand-written books, (he did for Liesel in the basement), did not feature.  There could have been some lovely moments, of say black & white or sepia animations to depict those little stories within the movie.

Despite my criticism, I thought it was well portrayed overall with great performances from Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Roger Allam, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer.

Here’s the trailer…

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2 thoughts on “Film Review – The Book Thief.

  1. I am pleased you reviewed ‘The Book Thief’ As one of my favourite books, I have as yet not been able to watch the film. Afraid that what I imagine when reading; will be spoiled. A bigger gap maybe required, between book and film. Having read the best marigold hotel and adored it. The film was released, and first to the door clutching the book in a sweating palm; was myself. So different they were, that I have consoled my brain by pretending that they are two completely different pieces of work. Again i can see why things were altered, skewed and forced into a different shape… But the best Marigold Hotel it wasn’t.

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    • Yeah, so often the film version of a great read can be slightly disappointing. But then again, if a film was to be true to the book we’d have films lasting 8hrs long! So I guess there needs to be strict controls for the screenplay; what a nightmarish job that would be! Imagine being tasked to produce a 2hr screenplay from the content of Book Thief – what would you leave out? I’d be tempted to keep it all and make an epic 8hrs worth! It is worse when a film is made which is very loosely (sometimes too loose) connected to a book – we all know that eternal phrase: ‘based on the novel by …..’ – fills one with dread sometimes!

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