The Book Thief

Posted on November 29, 2013


The Book Thief- A communist in 1938 Germany, Liesel’s mother has to give her and her younger brother up to save them.   On the way to their new foster home, the brother dies and Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) steals the book next to her brother’s grave “The Gravedigger’s Handbook” even though she can’t read.   Her new parents are Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson).   Papa Hans teaches Liesel to read. They end up hiding a Jew named Max (Ben Schnetzer).  Liesel describes the outside world to  Max.  Once she even stages a snowball fight inside the basement so that he can feel it, too.  Liesel’s love of books takes her to the Burgermeister’s home where the wife invites her to enjoy their library until the Burgemeister himself puts a stop to it.

Geoffrey Rush is positively adorable here, so loving, kind and twinkly.  Mama Rosa is much more bark than she is bite.   And Rudy.   Rudy (Nico Liersch) is 13 years old, blond and blue eyed.  He wants to kiss Liesel and he wants to be Jesse Owens, fastest man in the world, so much so that he rubs coal all over his body to make his skin black.

This is based on the acclaimed book by Marcus Zusak which is narrated by Death and tells the story of Kristallnacht.  The movie comes close to matching  the book’s  depth and intensity at least as much as a movie can.  You wonder how many more stories of Nazi Germany you can listen to.  Well, whether you read the book or see the movie, this is one of the best.