Image: Fox 2000 Pictures
Film adaptations of books are always a tricky one, especially when it comes to something like the Book Thief. It’s one of those much loved international best-sellers by Markus Zusak, and most people have at least heard of it. Personally I haven’t read the book; I only remember the cover image of the character seemingly representing Death. I went into this film knowing nothing about it, with only the brown stained book cover and the film poster of the young girl clutching a red bound book in my mind.
The story follows a young girl Liesel during World War II Germany, and reflects on the horrors of the war through the eyes of child innocents. While the streets are filled with rallies and book burnings, Liesel finds hope in stealing books and reading them in secret. It is a tense film of fear, loss and friendship during Nazi occupied Germany, as Liesel’s adopted parents help Max, a Jewish Refugee hiding in their basement. Narrated by Death himself, this film is shadowed by the idea that no one is safe and, as the story progresses, this becomes more and more apparent.
The film does well in balancing the fears and horrors of the situation alongside the hope created within each character. Seen through the eyes of children, The Book Thief follows a similar format to that of the Boy with the Striped Pyjamas; both feature child innocents during the Second World War and follow the development of an unlikely friendship that causes them to question the situation and the actions of others. Despite its subject matter it has real moments of joy and laughter. These especially with the character of Rudy, a young boy who is the ideal image of Nazi Germany but who doesn’t hold back with his dislike for the situation.
The Book Thief is a heartfelt story, with a soundtrack to match, it will make you will laugh, cry and even shudder. Don’t let the cinematic trailer voiceover put you off, this film is worth a watch.