So here is Holly @ The Fox's Hideaway, who has finally watched the whole Book Thief movie, and reviewed it! All because I forced her to, because this movie (and of course the book) is my favorite! Also as a reminder, you can comment on this post, follow Holly via Twitter and Bloglovin, and have that all count towards entries in the event's giveaway!
“Words are life, Liesel.”
When I heard about Val’s event, I knew I had to sign up. I absolutely love WWII stories, and they’re some of my favorite books ever. But I had trouble coming up with a topic for this, and Val was actually the one who suggested that I finally finish The Book Thief movie and talk about it (this won’t be a review so much as just my general thoughts on how the adaptation went). You see, I had started the movie a long time ago but never got to the end. At the time, I’d only recently finished the book, and so I don’t think I was quite ready for the feels and heartbreak twice. And though the book is OBVIOUSLY better, the movie still packed a powerful punch on my emotions. But I had a feeling it would, given what happens in the book. So for anyone who hasn’t read The Book Thief yet, here’s your warning that there will be spoilers!
Knowing what already happens, having read the book beforehand, it didn’t make it any easier to sit through a movie for a certain scene that just gutted me. It was even, I want to say, more impactful watching it unfold rather than reading about it (though I didn’t cry as much as I did with the book). The war was awful, and stories like this will never not be emotional and hard to process. But they’re important. It’s important to remember, and to learn, and fiction is a safe place to do that. I can only imagine what it was like to live during that time. I can only imagine the struggles people faced, and how hard it was to just survive. But with books and movies such as this one, I can do more than imagine. Though they are not always entirely accurate or realistic, I thought The Book Thief was a fantastic depiction of WWII. And here is my breakdown of how I felt about the movie. ☺
I super love the actors and actresses they chose for this movie. Sophie Nélisse played Liesel, and I thought she did such a great job! Her portrayal of the quiet, determined, and utterly brave young girl fit in with how I saw book Liesel. Rudy (played by Nico Liersch) was adorable and lively and so charming, and he made me smile throughout the movie. I thought the guy who played Hans was PERFECT in his role. And even the narrator sounded like I thought he would when I read the book (But I was glad there were only, what, 3 areas where he narrated in the movie? I was happy there wasn’t much honestly, because any more than that would have felt unnecessary. It felt like just the right amount, especially the way he ended it).
THE CHARACTER RELATIONSHIPS
One of my favorite parts of the book was the relationships between Hans and Liesel, and Liesel and Rudy. Liesel was shy, at first, with Hans and his wife. But Hans, the wonderful human being that he is, managed to coax her out of her shell and teach her how to read. He taught her the importance of words. He indulged her, when Rosa wished he wouldn’t. Throughout the story, and the movie, he and Liesel form a special bond that transcends age, one that is forged by choice rather than blood. And it was lovely. Liesel also found a best friend in Rudy, someone who challenged her but also listened, who she trusted without question. I think, if they’d had the chance, they would have fallen in love. And it makes me so sad that they never had the opportunity, because I adored their relationship SO much. It’s also incredibly heartbreaking that Liesel lost not only Rudy, but Hans and Rosa as well. Their love for her was something that she had hardly experienced in her life, and the Hubermanns made her feel like she belonged, like she was truly family. They gave Liesel a better life than she would have had. And then she ended up losing all of them, on top of the loss of her brother in the beginning, and it just HURT. Our poor, sweet book thief. ☹ But I was extremely happy that both of these relationships were portrayed so brilliantly, because I think they were some of the best aspects of the book, and not just my favorite. I also really loved the moments with Liesel and Rosa, and Rudy and his family. OH! And I adored the unlikely friendship between Liesel and Max, a Jewish man whom the Hubermanns take in for a few years so he has a chance to live. He teaches Liesel so much more than words, and she comes to understand just how unfairly he had been treated. She learns empathy and compassion by Hans and Rosa’s example and becoming friends with Max. It opens her up to more in the world, and it plays a big part in how she grows as a person. Basically, I loved that this was so character-driven. These people were the heart and soul of both the book and the movie.
THE SETTING AND THE ENDING
The whole production and the setting felt very genuine and on point. There’s always a certain amount of wariness and apprehension involved when you’re watching book adaptations. I generally enjoy the movies I watch, even if they’re poor representations of the book (lookin’ at you, Vampire Academy). But even so, I thought the combination of the fantastic acting, the authentic imagery, and the depth of the characters and their relationships with each other put this book adaptation above so many others. And that ending? That was one of my favorite parts. It was super sad because those character deaths still hurt, but it was also just beautiful.
Because of my poor memory, I’m not completely sure how accurate this movie was to the book, but I can tell you this: it was a breathtaking adaptation. It is slow at times, definitely, and it’s not action-packed. It’s a quiet film, about love and life and making choices that define who you are as a person. It’s about doing what you believe is right, even if you could be killed for it, but doing it anyway because it would be wrong and cruel to do so otherwise. But sometimes people didn’t have any choices, and sometimes Death came too soon. If you’ve read the book, I strongly urge you to watch the movie if you haven’t seen it yet. Though OF COURSE the book is better, this was one of the best adaptations I’ve watched. I LOVED THIS MOVIE!