Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Book Thief

Books to Movies is a feature where I review movies based off books! These reviews are for people who have read the book, so spoilers are definitely within.

Rated: PG-13

Is it worth watching?

Absolutely. Probably my favorite movie/book-turned-movie of the year, The Book Thief is every bit as brilliant and moving - and even funny - as the book. Even if you haven't read the book, you'll enjoy it if you like these kinds of stories. Just remember to bring tissues.

Is it clean?

Yes. There are intense moments, but there is no gore or language or anything inappropriate.

How is the cast?

They could not have cast the story better. I finally got around to reading the book because the movie was coming out, and I always read books before seeing the movie they are based off of. So I knew about the cast as I read the book. As soon as I met Hans, I knew Geoffrey Rush was the perfect casting choice. Sophie Nelisse was not only a brilliant actress, she was a great Liesel. Nico Liersch was an adorable Rudy; while I didn't dislike Rudy in the book, for some reason I found that I was more attached to him in the movie. Emily Watson was also a great choice for Rosa. I disliked her when she was so mean to Liesel, and I eventually came to care about her a little bit as I got to know her. The only one who didn't fully work for me was Ben Schnetzer, who plays Max. It's not that he did a bad job; he didn't. But for some reason that I can't quite put my finger on, I didn't care about Max as much in the movie as I did in the book. Not sure why; I just didn't.

Did the story stay close to the book?

Very close. Many events are either combined or cut short, otherwise the movie would have been 3 hours long, and it's already a pretty long movie (2+ hours). But they stayed true to the main events, the spirit of the story, and the characters. This, like the book, is a character-driven story, and they definitely got that part right. I was sad that they cut out the fact that Frau Heinrich knew that Liesel was stealing from her library - and let her. I thought that in the book, it said a lot about Frau Heinrich's character. But they captured that aspect of Frau Heinrich in other ways in the movie, so it still worked.

Did they even get the little things right?

The little things is where most of the changes happened in the movie, but even there they didn't change all that much. When Rudy pretends to be Jesse Owens, painting himself black, I always pictured him painting himself a lot more thoroughly than he does in the movie. Liesel doesn't tear up Frau Heinrich's library (which I wasn't all that sad about. I understand Liesel being upset, but even I had a hard time forgiving her for that). The story Max writes her in the book is also left out, as are the books that Hans manages to buy her for her birthday. And of course, Max pretending to box the Fuhrer at night in the basement was left out, which kind of saddened me, but I suppose it wouldn't have translated onto screen all that well. Liesel doesn't read books out loud in the bomb shelter, but she tells stories.

But the ending is good, right?

The ending is every bit as sad and beautiful and heart-wrenching as it is in the book; I bawled my eyes out. I wasn't sure if that particular moment in the book would actually be as effective onscreen as it was in the book, but it definitely was. Maybe even more so.

So if I absolutely adore the book, will I like the movie?

Oh yes. Even though I knew how everything ended; even though I knew who died and who survived, I still cried. When Max left, I cried; when Hans left, I cried. When the end occurred, I cried a lot. Don't get me wrong, though - there are a lot of funny parts, too. They interwove the humor into the drama very well, and they kept the message of hope that The Book Thief retains even while all of your favorite characters are dying. This isn't nearly as depressing as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, which quite frankly has no humor; not even a smidgen. But it is still sad - and hopeful at the same time.


  1. Obviously, I can't say how it compared to the book, but I thought it was pretty awesome and I'm glad you liked it.

    Your talk of crying through the movie made me laugh. In the theater, by the end, I just heard all these sniffles behind me and it made me chuckle a bit. ;)

    1. I laughed quietly to myself, too, when I heard the sniffling start up, which was about when Max left. I would have been crying more if I hadn't been so amused at my friend's rather extreme reaction to the movie. She loved it, but she was a puddle of tears. And I did start laughing when she said, "If Max dies in a bombing, I'm going to be mad." Oh, she had no idea what the end was going to bring. :) But, yes, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie; they did an excellent job.


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