How To Catch A Book Thief

6 Dec

I saw Geoffrey Rush on the talk show circuit about a month ago promoting his new movie The Book Thief. I enjoyed that book and Geoffrey Rush is pretty entertaining in anything he’s in so I wanted to see the movie. The thing is when it was supposed to open I couldn’t find a theater playing it anywhere. After a week had passed it was playing in like two theaters that were both pretty far away. Now I had become suspicious that the reason it wasn’t being shown anywhere was because it must have not been a very good movie and theaters didn’t want to carry it. So should I make the long trip across town just too be disappointed at how another great book became a poor screen adaptation? I decided it was worth the risk and went out of my way to watch The Book Thief. It was well worth the effort.

If you have the opportunity to watch The Book Thief, even if it means going to the obscure independent theater, go see it. But be warned the trailers accompanying this movie were the worst set of trailers I’ve seen in 6 months so it might be advantageous to be a little late. That is unless you want to see an immortal, love sicken Colin Farrell with amnesia stumble through a teaser for Winter’s Tale, “Bleh”. For those who don’t know The Book Thief takes place in WWII Germany (more on that later). But to really get me in the mood I now have a much better sense of what Germans  must’ve felt while being forced to watch Nazi propaganda films, thanks to the trailer for Heaven Is For Real. Based on a “True Story” about a 4 year old boy who took a trip to Heaven and returned then wrote a 163 page book. This has got to be the worst Hallmark movie of the week ever, which is why the Hallmark channel probably rejected it and it is now on its way to a theater near you, unless the rapture happens before then. Once you survive the previews that’s when it all pays off.

Book Thief

Being born four decades after WWII I had a very limited idea of what Germany must have been like during that period, like many people I thought it was all full of evil Nazis goose-stepping everywhere all the time. The Book Thief reveals that Germany was actually a place where everyone wasn’t brain washed into barbarism, there was an internal resistance to Hitler, and even blonde pure bred Germans were terrified and victimized by the Nazi Party. This sets The Book Thief apart from your typical WWII movie, there’s no action packed battle scenes, no political drama, no bloody violence. The “Book Thief” is a little girl named Liesel who is adopted by a poor married couple, scraping by to make ends meet in a small German town. Liesel has to cope with her new parents, new home, and new school while adhering to Nazi regulations and on top of all this  she’s also illiterate. Knowing the family can’t afford to buy any books, she steals them occasionally so her father can help teach her to read. Things become more complicated when the family takes in a Jewish Refugee to hide in their basement because “it was the right thing to do”.

The acting in this movie is superb Geoffrey Rush is exactly the character of the father. He is loving, honest, playful, and unsure of the future but tries to not let it show. Emily Watson is someone I associate with British period pieces, she’s beautiful and proper, the exact opposite of what I pictured the mother character to be in the book. Impressively she nails the overweight, worn-out, thick-skinned Mother who has a strict dose of tough love for everyone. It is damn impossible to find a young actress who can actually, you know… act, but newcomer Sophie Neliesse is the right combination stubborn tom-boy and vulnerable little girl that makes Liesel such a touching character. Also her best friend Rudy is just so much fun to watch every time he’s on screen.

I love how they portrayed the little things, like leaving in the uniquely German curse words of Saumensch and Saukerl. The dialog is English but hearing people shout “Be Quiet Saumensch!” made me smile. There are a couple parts that may be over done like the montages of Liesel falling in love with reading but in a movie called “The Book Thief” you gotta expect that. Finally every WWII movie has to have some sad moments so don’t anticipate fairy tale endings for everybody. At its core this movie shows how a family finds the strength to stay together while struggling with the precariousness of life under a Nazi regime. Try and catch The Book Thief if you can.

Carl Wells

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One Response to “How To Catch A Book Thief”

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  1. Stupid Oscar Predictions | Stupid Opinions Written Poorly - February 24, 2014

    […] for title role in THE BOOK THIEF this little girl went above and beyond and was a big part of why this little movie was […]

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