While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. In the basement of her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.
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In 1938, the young girl Liesel Meminger is traveling by train with her mother and her younger brother when he dies. Her mother buries the boy in a cemetery by the tracks and Liesel picks up a book, "The Gravediggers Handbook", which was left on the grave of her brother and brings it with her. Liesel is delivered to a foster family in a small town and later she learns that her mother left her because she is a communist. Her stepmother, Rosa Hubermann, is a rude but caring woman and her stepfather, Hans Hubermann, is a simple kind-hearted man. Liesel befriends her next door neighbor, the boy Rudy Steiner, and they go together to the school. When Hans discovers that Liesel cannot read, he teaches her using her book and Liesel becomes an obsessed reader. During a Nazi speech where the locals are forced to burn books in a bonfire, Liesel recovers one book for her and the Major's wife Ilsa Hermann witnesses her action. Meanwhile Hans hides the Jewish Max Vandenburg, who is the son of a ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The first Hollywood film for director Brian Percival. See more »
Rudy Steiner wears a winter jumper with a metal zipper. Buttons on children's clothing are much cheaper and much more likely with war-time metal shortages in 1942 Germany. The zipper was mostly seen as a novelty item in this era. See more »
One small fact: you are going to die. Despite every effort, no one lives forever. Sorry to be such a spoiler. My advice is when the time comes, don't panic. It doesn't seem to help.
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Those familiar with the 2005 award winning and best-selling novel by Australian author Markus Zusak will not be disappointed with the theatrical version which differs from the book in only minor details. Both tell the story of a preadolescent girl who is adopted into a German family living in a small village in 1938, and then by following her life we get to view war on the home front for Germany. Nazi rallies, anti-Jewish pogroms, Hitler Youth groups, conscription, book burning, daylight bombing, propaganda films and posters, and the whole gamut of events are seen from her perspective.
This isn't the first film to adopt this perspective. "The Diary of Anne Frank" is the classic example, but more recently, "No Place on Earth" (2013) covered some of the same ground as did "The Boy in the Striped Pajamas" (2008) and especially "Lore" (2012).
"The Book Thief" has wonderful photography by Florian Ballhaus, an excellent musical score by Golden Globe and Oscar winning John Williams ("Schindler's List", "ET", "Star Wars"), and best of all, marvelous acting from Sophie Nelisse as the young girl, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as her adoptive parents, and Ben Schnetzer as the Jewish boy they hide. Many of the core scenes with Nelisse, Watson, and Rush should be required viewing at any acting school.
Hats off too to young Nico Liersch who plays a boyhood friend of Nelisse.
If the film has any fault at all, it is the decision by the film makers to try to walk a fine line between drama and fable. Having "Death" as the narrator right from the start seems to suggest fable, but the story itself veers sharply to drama for most of the 2+ hours, and then, noticeably at the end, reverts to fable. Some viewers may find this disconcerting. But the power of the story and the acting generally compensate for this short coming.
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