8 items from 2014
Thoughtful tweens and teens interested in history and unusual adventurous stories of kids their own age should love this, but adults may find the lightness of the tone off-putting. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing
I’m “biast” (con): nothing
I have not read the source material
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
I haven’t read the Markus Zusa novel this is based on, but what ended up on the screen makes me suspect that it might be one of those unfilmmable books that should probably have been left alone. On the one hand, this is a tale of a tough, plucky young girl — that alone is rare enough to be cheered — who loves books and loves reading, which doubles the reason for applauding it. On the other hand, this is essentially a kids’ movie about life in Nazi Germany, and it ends up being »
- MaryAnn Johanson
This adaptation of Markus Zusak's best-selling novel offers a portrayal of Nazism that's strictly for the kids. However, it's a chapter in history that even grown-ups find difficult to comprehend, so taking a child's point-of-view does tap a universal chord - and that is crucial given that our young heroine Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is a member of the Hitler Youth. It's a pity, though, that opportunities have been missed.
Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson are the crotchety German couple, Hans and Rosa Hubermann, who take Liesel in at their small-town home after her communist mother is branded an enemy of the state. Her story is narrated by Death (Roger Allam) who claims her little brother en route in a device that works better on the page than on screen, »
As with films such as Life is Beautiful and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, it’s always fascinating to delve into the horrors of war from a child’s innocent eyes, witnessing such undignified brutality from a naïve, blissfully ignorant perspective. Succinctly highlighting the futility of it all, Brian Percival’s The Book Thief feels suitably watered down, pinpointing death and destruction without feeling torturous. However what transpires is a disengaging, emotionally detached title, as a film that truly struggles to move you, despite the magnitude and poignancy of the themes explored.
Based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel, our entry point is the young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), who is separated from her communist mother and taken in by a German couple, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) – the former a benevolent, affable man, the latter not quite so much. Soon this seemingly placid environment becomes a theatre of conflict, »
- Stefan Pape
Director: Brian Percival.
Running Time: 131 minutes.
Synopsis: While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) 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.
The Book Thief is adapted from the best-selling novel by Markus Zusak, but this process isn’t something unusual these days. The success of Life Of Pi has most probably spiked the realisation in the general consciousness that it can be done successfully – massively in Pi’s regard – and the best ones don’t deviate too much from the original story to keep the heart and soul. What’s slightly ironic is when we speak of The Book Thief, there will always be Death at the centre. Yes, Mr. Death himself, »
- Dan Bullock
With narration by none other than Death himself, the drama tells the story of a young girl called Liesel (Nélisse) who is sent to live with foster parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) while Germany is in the grip of World War II.
"Writing that book killed me, in the best possible way," Zusak told Digital Spy and other journalists at a New York roundtable interview.
"It meant everything to me. I have been happy to let the book go, that was probably the smartest thing to do and I think it was put in very respectful hands."
Despite not being involved with the making of the film, the Australian author is happy with the final result, heaping praise on 13-year-old Nélisse's portrayal of the protagonist, »
Ahead of its UK release on February 26th, we’ve got a short featurette on 20th Century Fox’s The Book Thief to share with you.
Based on Markus Zusak’s multiple award winning and (may I say) beautifully written 2005 novel which featured Death as the narrator, The Book Thief follows the story of Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a young girl living in Nazi Germany. After moving in with a foster family Liesel strikes up a close friendship with local boy, Rudy (Nico Liersch). However the shadow of Hitler spreads over the community – more so when the family agree to shelter Jewish refugee Max (Ben Schnetzer). Reading, language, banned books and journalling are all continuing themes in the story; Liesel is initially illiterate but her foster father, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) soon teaches her to read.
The featurette shows clips from the movie along with snippets of interviews with starring actors Geoffrey Rush, »
- Claire Joanne Huxham
I spent all 130 minutes of The Book Thief wondering who exactly its target audience is supposed to be. It's based on a bestselling young-adult novel set in Nazi Germany, but it has a cheesy, saccharine Lifetime Channel feel, like it's one of those made-up art movies the characters in animated sitcoms go and see, the wives weeping, the men all wincing and wishing it were Skyfall.
It's about Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), the orphaned 12-year-old daughter of German communist activists, taken in by a middle-aged couple in 1938. She and the smitten boy next door Rudy (Nico Liersch) join the Hitler Youth and goose-step around town burning books and fetishising der Führer as little twinges of conscience and doubt slowly begin to manifest themselves. Then her adoptive parents Hans and Rosa (Geoffrey Rush, »
- John Patterson
Stunning trailer for the adaptation of the beloved novel by Markus Zusak. Set in a fictional town in Germany during World War II, a young girl who is unable to read, develops an obsession with learning and literature that helps her to cope with the terrors ahead. Directed by Brian Percival and starring Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse, Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch. »
8 items from 2014