run time: 131 mins
considered: Drama, War
starring: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Barbara Auer, Ben Schnetzer, Roger Allam
movie summary: While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents. (www.imdb.com)
my thoughts: Germany was a tough place to live before and after World War II. The Book Thief is one of the millions of stories about survival through the war-torn country.
Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is a little girl when her and her brother are on a train to west Germany to be adopted. Her brother dies during the train ride and she is left all alone. After a short stop to bury him along the tracks, she arrives at the home of Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Liesel is very shy at first, while Rosa gets upset that there’s only one child instead of two. Hans comes across more affectionately, so Liesel instantly bonds with him.
Within a few days Liesel is sent off to school where everyone figures out she can’t read. Inside her coat Hans finds that she has stolen “the Gravediggers Guide Book” from the one of the guys who buried her brother. Since he isn’t a good reader either he agrees to teach and learn with her. She steals her second book a few nights later at a Nazi book burning ceremony. The purpose of such an event was to purge the people of useless knowledge. She manages to grab the “Invisible Man” by H.G. Wells from the burnt pile of books after everyone leaves. She is very cautious to make sure no one see her, but the Buergmeister’s wife catches her in the act but doesn’t do anything about it.
One night there’s a knock at the door and it’s a Jewish man named Max who needs a hiding place from the German police. Hans owes his life to Max’s father from World War I so agrees to hide him. Liesel develops a friendship with Max who treats her like a sister. He has brought a book with him, Mein Kampf which she wants to get her hands on and read.
Rosa begins to wash laundry for the Buergmeister and Liesel starts to deliver the basket. Ilsa (Buergmeister’s wife) remembers watching Liesel grabbing a burnt book from the book burning ceremony so invites Liesel into her really large library with thousands of books. They agree that whenever she comes over she can read a book as long as it stays a secret. One day the Buergmeister bursts through the doors of the library and is furious that Liesel is reading. He forbids her to come to the house ever again and Rosa loses him as a client. Within a week or two Liesel rebels and breaks into the Buergmeister’s library and starts to steal books. She brings them home and starts reading them to Max, who has been moved to the basement.
Max comes down with a sickness and spends the next few weeks sleeping. Once he is better the family decide it is best for him to seek shelter somewhere else because the Germans are searching house to house. As he prepares to leave everyone has a heavy heart because they know he may die once he leaves the house. Shortly after Max leaves the town starts to practice air raid drills because America has entered the war and attacking the German country. In an attempt to recruit more man for the war, the German military officers bring Hans on board and send him out to the battlefield.
When Hans returns home the family is together for the first time in months. Everyone goes to sleep feeling happy and safe but for some they may not wake up. Under a beautiful starry night, without any warning to its sleeping inhabitants, bombs drop and wipe out this quiet neighborhood.
I personally enjoyed the Book Thief and wiped away a few tears at the end. It has a creative narrative, by using Death to tell parts of the story. There are many important characters that help the story along, but this is all about the cute and charming Sophie Nélisse who steals the show with her brilliant acting skills. Her chemistry with Geoffrey Rush was great to watch while Emily Watson plays the “evil step mom” role perfectly. This film is charming story about life outside of the front lines during World War II, but kinda like everything else related to Germany and the great war it doesn’t have a completely happy ending.
The Book Thief is worth the watch so check it out!
my star rating: 7 out 10