Note: I've decided not to use ratings for my movie and music reviews
"The characters, their stories, their voices, their experiences--it's so real because it's really something that could have happened to families all over Germany at the time."
"War is brutal and unforgiving, and The Book Thief remembers that."
I must first note that I haven't finished reading the book yet, so I don't know how accurate the movie is.
Wow. That was my first thought once the credits started rolling. This movie blew me away, and I love it. It has a subtle beauty but not in the way one might think. It is certainly not a beautiful story in that it takes place during World World II in Nazi Germany. There isn't really a happy ending because war does not have a happy ending. It is a sad, heart-wrenching story, but there's something about it that takes it beyond a war story.
There's so much depth and emotion woven throughout this film, and it's done so incredibly well. This is partially what I mean when I say that there's a subtle beauty to The Book Thief. The characters, their stories, their voices, their experiences--it's so real because it's really something that could have happened to families all over Germany at the time. In a similar way that cancer stories can become too central on the cancer aspect, war movies tend to become too central on the war. But The Book Thief isn't one of those. It's about family, love, loss, friendship, sacrifice, passion, and above all, hope. It's a story that's loaded with so many elements, yet it works together so well.
The cast was utterly breathtaking, particularly Sophie Nelisse, who plays Liesel. But really, the entire cast, from Hans to Rudy to Max and even the narrator, Death, just pulls off their roles so well. The movie was so incredibly emotional, and I felt everything the characters felt because of the actors and actresses.
I loved the sub-plots, as well as the major story-arc. Liesel felt relatable in many ways, even if her experience with war is not one most of us have been through.
Normally, I would say that the ending (or right near the end) of the movie felt incredibly sudden and out-of-nowhere, but that's the thing about war. It's unpredictable. You never know what's going to happen the next day. You can only prepare so much. War is tragedy. So no, I can't complain about the ending of the movie because it's what makes the story so real, so tangible. Because these are the experiences of so many people during the war. And it's scenes like this that make the story stick out.
The movie doesn't sugar-coat anything about the war. Yes, there are some things we don't see, but that's because we view Liesel's story. Her story is not sugar-coated. There are good days, happy days, and there are bad days, tragic days. There are experiences that she'll never want to remember but that she has to remember. There are things that she saw that no person should ever see, let alone a teenager. And it's a part of who she is, and it becomes a part of the story. War is brutal and unforgiving, and The Book Thief remembers that.
Now, my goal is to finally finish the book because I can only imagine that it's better than the movie, which already blew me away.
The Book Thief
Directed by: Brian Percival
Written by: Michael Petroni, based on The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak
Cast: Roger Allam, Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, and more
Release Date: November 27, 2013