Courage beyond words.
It’s been a really long time since I’ve done a movie review! I really want to get back into doing those, but sometimes just keeping up with book reviews is hard enough. But I just had to do one for The Book Thief, which is a beautiful book. I wanted to see how the movie compared.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book and the movie, I’ll give you a quick summary. It’s 1938, Germany, and Liesel Meminger’s brother has just died. As he’s being buried, Liesel steals her first book, The Gravediggers Handbook. Dropped at the door of a new foster family, Liesel has to start life without her brother or her mother. Her new mama, Rosa, is a rude but caring woman, and Papa, Hans, is a kind-hearted man who slowly worms his way into Liesel’s heart. In her new home, Liesel learns to read with the help of Papa and the handbook she stole. But life is about to get a lot more complicated when a new war begins and a Jew shows up on their front steps looking for refuge.
I thought this was a really good adaptation. Obviously, some things were changed from the book. I was able to pick out a few as I watched, but it didn’t necessarily bother me. The essence of the story was the same and what they took out wasn’t really all that big for the plot. It was little details that were changed or slightly larger things that the movie just didn’t have time to cover. It’s 2 hours and 11 minutes long. Give it a little slack.
The acting was pretty good as well. The kids, Liesel and Rudy, felt like real kids. They were convincing. But the best actor (as he usually is) is Geoffrey Rush, who played Papa. I have such an uncle-crush on him. (As in, I wish he was my honorary uncle. Victor Garber and Gary Oldman also have this distinction.) He played Papa so well. You always knew what Papa was feeling. It was so charming.
I also really liked Max, the Jew looking for refuge. There was something innocent and jaded about him. He’s always been one of my favorite characters from this story, but this just helped solidify it. Now I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but he didn’t have as thick of a German accent as the rest of the characters did.
Which leads to my next point. German and German accents were prevalent throughout the whole movie. Which was cool. I don’t hear a lot of German…like ever. And I almost never hear a German accent while characters are speaking English. I didn’t realize how hard that accent is to copy! And it was a little strange. “Rudy” sometimes sounded like “Woody.” But it added a level of authenticity to the story.
And, of course, Death as the narrator is still so clever. As morbid as it is, I really like it. What doesn’t Death see? Death sees everything. He narrates the story well, though it’s not as present as I thought it would be. He mostly just shows up in the beginning, a little in the middle, and again at the end. That’s it.
I should warn you that this is going to make you cry. If the book made you cry (like it did me), then this will do it too.