14 January, 2014

Movie Review: The Book Thief

Released: 27 November, 2013
Producer: Lionsgate
Run Time: 131 minutes


The Book Thief is a movie adapted from Markus Zukas's book of the same title. Set in Germany just before and during World War 2, this fiction novel offers a view into the home-front for the Germans. It's an interesting concept for a novel, and a movie, since most materials presented are on the Allies as they were the victors of the war.

This book-to-movie adaptation focuses on the story of Lisel Meminger, a young girl who fascinates the narrator (Death) with her ability to simply avoid death. At the beginning of the story, we're introduced to Lisel who takes a moment during the funeral of her brother to snatch up a book that falls from the pocket of one of the grave-diggers. It would appear that this would become the first act of thievery and potentially life threatening actions for Lisel as she's whisked away to Himmel Street and a new life with her foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann.

It's clear from the get-go that the Hubermanns don't have very much, especially at the beginning where Rosa demands to know where Lisel's brother is because they were 'promises two pensions' for the children. Over the course of the movie, it's often displayed as Rosa being the more dominant of the pair, making her opinion known on everything and everyone. Other occupants of Himmel Street highlighted in the movie include the Steiners, notably Rudy Steiner who is in Lisel's year at school and quickly seems taken with her. Skip forward to one faithful night when a young man comes stumbling up to their door in the middle of the night. This is Max, a Jewish refugee who is trying to get himself out of Germany after Kristallnacht. 

Lisel's life becomes a series of secrets; she has to stay quiet about Max and the books she continues to steal. During the course of the story, Rosa often sends Lisel to various places to deliver the washing. One home is the home of the Buergmeister. It's here that Lisel strikes up a very strange relationship with the Buergmeister's wife, Ilsa. Ilsa has lost her son in the previous war, and often spends her days in his library. Just by a twist of fate, Ilsa allows Lisel to enter the library and read the books for a very long while until the Buergmeister is made aware of this practice and puts an end to it and his business with Rosa's washing service. This library isn't forgotten however as Lisel soon finds herself sneaking back into the house simply to borrow books when Max falls ill. 

The major theme of the movie is loss of people you care about to various means and what you might have to do to ensure your own life. This movie is heart touching, much like it's literary counterpart, and I highly recommend viewing it if you get a chance. 

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