Book Thief box
The Book Thief Blu-ray
It’s not often that audiences are privy to a World War II film told from the perspective of an average German child living during a time of turmoil and hardship. Audiences never get a story narrated by the Angel of Death himself either. It’s these premises that make Brian Percival’s film The Book Thief a special story, an idea hampered somewhat by its lengthy runtime and its muddy audience aims.

The Book Thief is based on the Young Adult novel of the same name written by Marcus Zusak. Both tell the story of Liesl (Sophie Nélisse), a young German girl who is sent to live with the Hubermann family (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) after dealing with familial problems. Liesl wears the same clothes and hairstyles as the other school girls once she arrives in town, but it soon becomes apparent that she is not wholly the same. Liesl is illiterate, and her mission at the start of the movie is to become less so. In Nazi Germany, however, it’s easier to steal books most of the time than to come across them in an honorable way.

The Book Thief follows a child and thus has a childish perspective, hampering the film’s political intuitiveness and emotionality. When a Jewish refugee named Max (Ben Schnetzer) hides out in the Hubermann household, his conversations with Liesl hint at a world at war. In Liesl’s view, however, things are just spiffy and Germany is winning—which makes it hard to invest when war does eventually hit closer to home. Additionally, Liesl’s relationship with a bully, her relationship with a young neighbor named Rudy (Nico Liersch), her penchant for books and her secrets at home all offer too many different plotlines to properly invest in. If The Book Thief had dropped the coming-of-age stuff in favor of the war stuff, or dropped the war stuff in favor of a coming-of-age story, it may have been a bit more succinct. That’s hard to do with a book adaptation, though, and as it stands, the movie still offers a glimpse at an important moment in history led by a talented young cast.

You can order The Book Thieft over at Amazon.

Best Special Feature: The film’s best special feature is a four-part making of clip entitled "A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief To Life". Together, they trace the picture from stories the author’s parents used to tell in his kitchen growing up to a producer who happened to see a blurb about the book in a copy of The Wall Street Journal someone left at Starbucks to a lead actress who didn’t want the part because she was hoping to make the Olympics as a gymnast. Of course, we know all of the necessary ingredients came together, but it’s still fun to watch the dominos fall into place.
Other Bonus Features:
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes
Sneak Peek

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