The Book Thief (12a)

Feb 04, 2015
Cranbrook Film Society

A Brothers Grimm tale of a beautiful child in wartime Germany that works as a fable for young children. Well acted and nearly faultless technically. Wonderful photography by Florian Balhaus.

Starring Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

Brian Percival | Germany | 2013 | 131 minutes | 12a

Film notes:

This film, based on Markus Zusak’s novel, is an old-fashioned classic about war: from a child’s point of view.

Narrated by Death, the film watches the main character, Liesel, subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, and the comfort she finds by stealing books and sharing them with others. The film very much sticks to the book in both style and content. Like a modern Grimm’s fairy tale, it is stylized: the snow is pristine, the stepfather a kind man, and the stepmother seems cold and hard but underneath she is truly good.

Geoffrey Rush plays the loving and patient stepfather, Emily Watson portrays the nagging wife, and Sophie Nelisse is stunningly perfect in the role of Liesel, capturing both the bright-eyed innocence and the eventual world-weary quality needed for the role.

The film is hauntingly beautiful, and moves at an effortless pace – not too fast, not too slow – allowing the viewers to become immersed in the realities of Liesel’s situation. Each shot in the film seems like a painting, wonderfully photographed by Florian Ballhaus.

Look out for a wonderful scene where Rudi, Liesel’s friend, covers himself in mud so he can run as fast as Jesse Owen. Beautiful, moving and surprising – this is a film about war and childhood to make you think.

For Downtown Abbey fans, the director Brain Percival has directed several episodes of the TV series.

Selma Pickup


            Weighted vote 84.8%