Journeys as great as the destinations.
Last night I attended the “The Book Thief” movie premier. Narrated by Death, The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken at age 9 to live with a foster family in a German working-class neighborhood. Liesel arrives having just stolen her first book, “The Gravediggers Handbook” which will be the beginning of a love affair with books.
Built around the external drama of the war and its consequences, is Lisel’s discovery of reading and books. Words are a valuable commodity in her ravaged society, and the care paid by the filmmakers and actors to accentuate the importance of stories to Lisel’s survival makes this movie all the more compelling. The cinematography, editing, and script are all excellent as well. John Williams’ soundtrack flowed seamlessly throughout, as it did with War Horse and Memoirs of a Geisha.
Sophie Melisse gives a terrific first time performance as young Liesel. Her blonde hair, wide blue eyes and ability to speak English and German create a truly outstanding, and heart-warming performance. I’m certain we’ll be seeing much more of her in the future. Geoffrey Rush, as her father, is absolutely fantastic. Rush worked extremely well with the new up and coming actress, their chemistry is flawless and the scenes they were onscreen together were mesmerizing. Emily Watson is also superb as the mother working to suppress emotion while holding everything together. Her character reminded me a lot of Watson’s character in War Horse, and is worthy of an Academy Award for Supporting Actress.
The Book Thief is a serious drama, not meant for young children. I feel it was excellently crafted and perhaps a good movie to see with older children as a way to begin a discussion of World War II and the Holocaust.
I haven’t read the book. I overheard a few people talking afterwards how the book had so much more detail for their imagination to fill in the blanks, and the film does not. But what do you expect when you’re adapting a five hundred and fifty page book into a two hour movie? I was not disappointed at all, I just wish I’d taken tissues.