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The Book Thief (2013) Movie Review

November 28, 2013

There is something magical about the right kind of story. As a child I was drawn into other worlds for days on end, reading all I could get my hands on. The wonders we find in those pages that can transport us away from the harsh reality in which we live. “The Book Thief” captures this child-like wonder beautifully. Sadly, the film is not all lighthearted fun. The story shows some of the darkness of Nazi Germany and the horrors of war. John Williams’ beautiful music helps highlight the beauty and awe present. The lush melodies transport us away from the horrors even if only for a few moments. In the same way, the smiles Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) displays when reading a book help us escape with her from this dark world where books are burned and Jews hunted and killed.

The title here alludes to how Liesel borrows books from a wealthy neighbor in order to find something to read in a town where most of her neighbors’ parents are illiterate and many books have been burned. In a poignant scene early in the film we watch as Liesel’s adopted father admits to her that he is not so good at reading and that they shall have to help each other on this journey. The value of literacy and the power it brings becomes clear early on and continues to run as a theme throughout. I found it beautiful to watch the childish adventures Liesel embarks on with her friend Rudy, as they laugh and explore the world together. They each provide convincing performances signifying their acting talents.

Some might find it a bit overwhelming to watch another movie about Nazi Germany, especially one that highlights the brutality it brought. I’ve concluded that it was necessary to include such scenes in the film because it helps drive home how essential books were to Liesel and the other characters in the book. At one point later in the film, Rudy catches Liesel stealing a book and asks her why she would steal a book when people are starving. Why not steal some food? He asks. At this point it becomes clear that to her there are more important things than simply surviving. She needs to experience the worlds inside books in order to truly live. In an age where I can have access to hundreds of books on a Kindle it is easy to forget just how valuable a book is. If you can sit through some of the darker sections that accompany Liesel on her journey you will share her wonder as she escapes into books one by one.


From → Drama

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