The Book Thief Misses the Mark

Astghik Cin Poghosyan ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
When it comes to movies about the Nazi regime during the war, the stories are always told from the perspective of the most well known victims. The Book Thief  is a film adaptation of a well known novel with the same name by famous Autrallian author Markus Zusak.

Sophi Nelisse as Liesel Meminger

The movie follows the story of a young German girl named Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) who gets adopted by the Hubermann family after her father abandoned her real family. While at the Hubermann household, she develops a close and loving relationship with her adoptive father Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush) as they start to learn to read together. She also develops a close relationship with her neighbor Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch) who later falls in love with her. Things take a turn when the Hubermann family must hide a Jewish man named Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) in their basement.

When it comes to book to movie adaptations there’s a possibility of the original message of the story being lost in the process, and sadly this was one of those situations. The book is narrated by Death and so is the movie; throughout the book, Liesel, in contrast to Death, keeps people alive by writing about them. According to her that is how people don’t leave her. In contrast, in the movie her character constantly emphasizes how ‘everyone always leaves.’ Considering that The Book Thief is a well-known novel, the controversies created by the film felt like the book was being cheated out of its original message.

Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubermann hugging Nelisse
Disregarding the story, when it came to cinematography Brian Percival did a marvelous job. While the movie has multiple themes that it evolves around the most common one is the cycle of life and death and how it’s an inevitable part of our lives.
He played this out quite well through stark color contrasts between white and black throughout the entire film. The scene jumps between a German choir singing about Nazi Germany and Jews getting assaulted represented the existence of the two worlds within each other magnificently while simultaneously emphasizing the danger of the ignorance of German youth. However considering that the setting of the movie was Nazi Germany, Percival played it safe at some points and made the inhumane treatment of the Jews tamer than it actually was.
What the film failed to do though was keep the audience on the edge of tension and anticipation because of the pacing. A scene would spend a while building up an atmosphere of danger and the anticipation of an upcoming threat and then destroy it thoroughly through a black out and reopening of another scene.
Overall, The Book Thief portrays an interesting story from the perspective of the overlooked victims of Nazi regime through the eyes of the unbiased and the innocent.
Grade: D


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