The Book Thief

December 16th, 2013


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While subjected to the horrors of WWII Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refuge is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 6.2/10 (450 voted)

Director: Brian Percival

The 550-page, World War II-era novel, narrated by Death, tells the story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken at age 9 to live with a foster family in a German working-class neighborhood. Liesel arrives having just stolen her first book, "The Gravediggers Handbook" -- it will be the beginning of a love affair with books.

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Taglines: From the Studio that brought you The Life of Pi


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Filming Locations: Berlin, Germany

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User Review


Rating: 9/10

First things first: I haven't read the book. This despite the fact that I've worked in a bookstore for nearly eight years. I've always meant to read it, but when I won tickets to the Mill Valley Film Festival premiere, I had less than 24 hours until the screening.

The Book Thief is a wonderful film, nuanced and thoughtful, and buoyed by strong performances from Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, and newcomer Sophie Nélisse. We watch as Germany falls under the storm of war, the country slowly descending into madness as we follow one girl who finds a home in the care of a couple at odds with the Fascist ideologies sweeping the nation. Soon Liesel (Nélisse) meets Rudy, a neighborhood boy, and Max, a young Jewish man her new parents must hide in their basement.

Built around the external drama of the war and its consequences is Lisel's discovery of reading and books. Words are a valuable commodity in her ravaged society, and the care paid by the filmmakers and actors to accentuate the importance of stories to Lisel's survival makes this movie all the more compelling. The cinematography, editing, and script are all excellent as well.

In short, The Book Thief is the kind of film you could show your children as a way to first begin a discussion of World War II and the Holocaust, but it never takes shortcuts from darker subject matter to reach this role. An excellent movie.