‘The Book Thief’ is a beautiful drama, a drama based in Nazi Germany from 1938 through World War Two. The story follows the life of a young girl named Liesel (Sophie Nélisse). At the beginning, we discover she is on her way to her new foster family, at the age of twelve being left to a husband and a wife she has never met before. Her new parents are Hans (Geoffrey Rush – recognisable in a completely different film as Captain Barbossa in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Soon she meets a young boy living next door, eager to become friends with the new girl on the street, this is Rudy (Nico Liersch).
The first thing I should mention is that this is not a film you watch for thrilling moments or comedy or fast-paced action; it couldn’t be further from this. The film is rather slow, but not in a bad way, it is clever in the way the film progresses as you need to understand what is happening. Obviously, there are parts of history that are not covered in the fact that this is well-known in your knowledge anyway, so you do not watch a film knowing what is happening even though it covers the history of Nazi Germany. The story of Liesel and her new family is one to get warped into, there is so much emotion in this film and it really does grip you into the two hours.
This film is different to many others of war; this is a story from the side of the Germans in World War Two, those that were living in Germany – of course this is not a true story or based on facts, but it gives a different side to a war we see many films from English or American point of views. We travel years through Liesel’s young life as she tries to come to grips with what is happening in Germany, her growing hatred with what is happening, and even more so her growing love for books and the importance to them in her life. The use of books in this film, is something that means so much more than just something to read, it is so clever in the film to add so much of this depth and detail. Even perhaps to give a love to people watching the film of books and the importance of imagination and seeing and processing the life around.
There is a narrator in this film, voiced by Roger Allam, I don’t want to give much away with this aspect of the movie, but it clever and different to many other narrators in films. The voice is not so much as a character in the film, yet contributes to the lives in ways that are very different. The voiceover is not continuous throughout the film, he is there at the beginning and the end, and other parts in which he is embedded in the storyline. Every actor in this film is brilliant and truly play the part well. Even the growing up of Liesel is recognisable and well done. There are characters to really appreciate and love in this film, for example, my favourite being Hans.
Overall, it is a beautiful drama, it is a tear-jerker, but I think that is probably expected. Like I’ve already mentioned it isn’t a fast-paced movie, but I was invested in the characters, worried for all of them, emotion filled in every aspect of the film. It’s an eye-opening into Nazi Germany from a young girl’s point of view, a family who risks everything, men at potential of being called to war, but among all just young Liesel growing up wanting to surround herself with books. If you think this is a film for you, I would definitely recommend it, but I understand it is a film of particular taste. A film of bravery and courage in a dangerous place.