Sunday, 2 March 2014

The Book Thief Film Review

Image taken from Google.
Hey lovelies,

 On Saturday night I went to the cinema to see my all-time favourite book in film form. I've literally been waiting for this film to come out since I found out it was being made into a film in October so it's no surprise that I went to the cinema the day after it was released! I enjoyed the film so so much that despite the amounting mounds of uni work I have to get through, I just had to write this for you.

 If you haven't read the book then The Book Thief is about a little girl who's sent to a foster family in Germany during World War Two because her mother is a Communist so it was not safe for her and her little brother to remain with her anymore. Sadly her little brother dies on the train journey to the foster family's home so the brother is given a burial by the side of the train tracks where the grave digger drops his little black book. Liesel picks this book up and this is the start of her love for books. When she gets to her foster family, the foster father does his best to make her feel at home, he really understands her pain and they have a joke together about Rosa, her foster mother who is a stern character. Hans, the foster father had been in the first world war and during this war, a friend of his took a bullet for him and Hans had always told his wife who is a Jew that if she ever needed anything he would help her. So when Kristallnacht (night of broken glass) came, someone approaches the Jewish wife's house and says he can only take one so she sends her son Max. Max turns up at the Hubermanns house where they hide him in their basement from the Germans. Hans teaches Liesel how to read from her gravediggers handbook and she later reads at the rich ladies house up the street who see's her stealing a book from the burning of books on Hitlers birthday. When she can no longer go to the ladies house for books because her husband dismissed her from her duties of delivering the laundry that Rosa did for them, she takes to climbing in the window and stealing them or 'borrowing' them as she calls it.

 The Book Thief the novel is narrated by death so this was the one thing I was scared about, that the movie would cut death out and just tell it from the characters perspective- it didn't! I was thrilled with this as I think it really does add to the edge of the story and brings it home to you a lot more and adds to the overall eerie ness of the story. Although one thing I'd definitely have changed is have death be narrating alot more throughout the film as he definitely is a smaller feature in the movie than he is in the book. 

 I thought the actors were chosen really well and Sophie Nelisse who plays Liesel was the perfect choice with her blonde hair and round innocent eyes and Geoffrey Rush was amazing at playing Hans Hubermann for giving that humerous edge in times of terror. The actors did an incredible job with their very realistic German accents so much so that they often sound more German than Nico Liersch who plays Rudy in the film and is actually German. The character of Rosa was played by Emily Watson and she was brilliant at showing the harsh, rough foster mum but then you see her warm over the film. The film definitely made me appreciate her character a lot more because at the start she just seems like a witch but then as you get to know her you see that she is a nice woman who's just struggling under the pressures of war time life and providing for her family. 

The location they chose for Himmel Street (heaven street) was the ideal set, it was gorgeous and truly looked like how you would imagine a town under Nazi ruling would be: a quaint town with Nazi flags hanging from every window. I think the addition of actual German words being thrown in was a very good touch, it's not so much that you don't understand what's being said but enough that it creates a realistic 'German' feel.

 I read quite a few film reviews before I saw the film that said the film was too 'sickly sweet' and that it 'sugar coated' a Nazi Germany but I don't think that is a fair statement at all. It does show the terror that the people living in Nazi Germany had to face and I think that even in that horrific time people would still have had small moments of humour and joy!! Such as the scene where they built a snowman in the basement with Max so that he could feel real snow and experience a bit of the outdoors. There are bits that were so scary that I actually flinched and jumped and it shows how much the film had gripped me that I was feeling their fear. I think it showed just the right balance of fear and violence because people know alot of violence went on but it doesn't mean they necessarily want to see people bleeding or being shot. The director has done such a good job that you don't need to see it because you know that it's happening without actually being shown. It's getting a lot of people comparing it to Schindlers List and how it's not as realistic as Schindlers List. Well of course it isn't because Schindlers List is a real story whereas The Book Thief is fictional based on real life events. 

 There were a few scenes which really stood out for me and one of these was when Rudy paints himself black and goes running to pretend that he's Jesse Owens (a black athlete). When he's at home in the bath, his father asks him why he would do such a thing and Rudy says because he wants to be Jesse Owens, the fastest man on earth. To this his father answers you shouldn't want to be black and when Rudy asks why his father simply says 'because I said so'. This really stuck out to me as it portrays very well the extent that the Nazi's managed to corrupt people's minds, so much so that they didn't even understand or have reasons as to why they were to think this way. The second scene that really stood out to me was when Max was lying in the bed at the Hubermann's and he wakes up to see a Nazi uniform in front of him. You can almost feel his panic as he scans up the body expecting to see a soldiers face but is instead greeted with Liesel's smiling down at him. Wearing the Nazi jacket ofcourse because all German children were forced to wear the Nazi symbol.

 One scene that I would criticise only slightly is the very end scene after Himmel Street has been bombed and Liesel comes out to see all the bodies lying there. If a bomb had blown up an entire street then you wouldn't expect whole, non-bloodied bodies to be lying there completly in tact would you. However, as a squeemish person I am glad there was no gore and I'm glad in a way they didn't because it allows the film to remain a PG certificate. I think this is really important because if children watch it, they will be interested to learn more about the history of the war and I think it's so important that children learn about the past. Why? Because if you don't know about the past then how can you expect to learn from it? So I definitely think they've done a good thing by keeping this film child friendly.

 This film is certainly an emotional rollercoaster and at about 5 different points in this book I had tears rolling down my cheeks and I was so sure when the lights came on I would have serious panda eyes. To my surprise my make-up was exactly as I had applied it (even my eyeliner?!) if that's not a testimony to how good the products I use are then I don't know what is! I think Liesel is definitely the character I relate to the most because I too have such a deep love of books and reading. This film is great for a wide variety of people I loved it, Gary thought it was really good and my mum and dad have also been to see it and both loved it too. Believe me, it takes a lot for a film to impress my dad!! I would definitely give this film 10/10 and I'm so happy that they've done such an amazing job of turning my favourite book into a film. 

 One quote that isn't to do with this film as such but I stumbled across it recently and it really stood out to me so I wanted to share it with you was this:- 

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."
This quote was said by protestant pastor Martin Niemoller shorly after World War Two. This stood out to me so much because it's true, if we stand by and watch bad things happen to other people because it's not happening to us then who will be there to help us when we have our downfall?
Have you seen the Book Thief or read the book? What are your thoughts on it? and if you haven't then get yourself to the nearest book shop and pick it up! and then on your way back pop into the cinema and give this a watch!
Lots of Love,
A x x x


  1. Your review is so good and so well written. I, too, have read the book and saw the film. I loved the book and the film, but I have to agree with you -- I wish Death had been more of a character in the film. The only other criticism I have of the film is that it left out so much of the part of Max writing his book and story for Liesel. The whole part about the tree in the forest that Hitler couldn't cut down is so important to the story, I think. Therefore, I have to say the book is better. I agree with you, we have to learn lessons from past history so we don't repeat them, but I don't know if the world is doing that even now. (Crimea & Ukraine) I wrote a review of the book and included a short review of the film. Here is the link: Scroll down the listing of my articles and you will see it. Thanks for a wonderful review of this film.

    1. Thank you very much for your kind comment Suzannah! It's always lovely to hear that my hard work is appreciated. Yes, I do agree with you on that as it was such a beautifully touching part of the book whereas in the film it was very much skimmed over as an unimportant part. It does seem so that the lust for power overcomes any past teachings from history but hopefully one day people will realise that we can learn from the mistakes of the past! Thank you for linking your post- I'm off to read it now :-) x


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