Sunday, 12 January 2014

Film Review: "The Book Thief" (2013).




From the first view of the trailer, you are asked "If your eyes could speak, what would they say?” Which is exactly what The Book Thief attempts to answer. This American drama film based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Markus Zusak, directed by Brian Percival and adapted by Michael Petroni. While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel finds solace by stealing books and sharing them with others. Under the stairs in her home, a Jewish refugee is being sheltered by her adoptive parents.

The novel is written by Australian author Markus Zusak. The book is narrated by Death, it is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when the narrator notes he was extremely busy. It describes a young girl's relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a young Jewish man who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II. First published in 2005, the book has won numerous awards and was listed on the The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.

The film stars Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush, Sophie Nélisse, Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch. The performances in this film were the driving forces in order to compensate for the typical Hollywood trans-mortified plot. Watson gave a great performance as the 'thunderous' wife and mother, Rosa Hubermann. Rush also gave a fine performance as the loving, light-hearted father Hans Hubermann. Nélisse gave the finest performance of all as the film's protagonist and tackling a delicate subject matter as this despite being only fourteen years old. Schnetzer gave a touching performance as the Jewish refugee and friend of Liesel, Max. Liersch also gave a fine performance as childish friend, Rudy.

In some ways, The Book Thief is undeniably powerful. The film is a stunning tribute to Zusak’s novel. It’s dramatically moving thanks to its well-acted performances and John Wiliiams’ score. However, it’s a bit too safe in its handling of its Nazi Germany setting, it offends some holocaust survivors, communists and Jews with its lack of authentic portrayal of the Holocaust. What may be most offensive to them is its sidestepping of politics and history in favor of simple human storytelling. But perhaps that impassive quality reflects what director Percival wants to say. By showing Szpilman as a survivor but not a fighter or a hero—as a man who does all he can to save himself, but would have died without enormous good luck and the kindness of a few non-Jews—Polanski is reflecting... his own deepest feelings: that he survived, but need not have, and that his mother died and left a wound that had never healed. It may be one of the best dramatic feature I've seen on the Holocaust experience, so powerful a statement on war, inhumanity and literature's survival. It illustrates that theme and proves that the film’s own love for literature has survived the chaos of that period -- and the hell that war and bigotry once made of it.

Simon says The Book Thief receives:


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