5 Reasons To Watch The Book Thief
The Book Thief (12A) is based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel of the same name and just so happens to be one of the most charming and heartwarming films of the year.
Narrated by Death (Roger Allam), The Book Thief tells the story of Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), a young girl who is sent to live with foster parents during World War II in Germany. The entire cast give breathtaking performances as Zusak’s incredible narrative comes to life beautifully in this captivating and emotionally charged adaptation.
To celebrate the DVD release of The Book Thief on 7 July, we bring you five reasons to watch the film:
1. Sophie Nélisse
The Book Thief is the 13-year-old’s acting debut, not that you’d ever guess that from her performance. Liesel is a complex character but Nélisse embodies her incredibly naturally; from the authentic-sounding German accent to the emotional plight that her character encounters throughout, nothing appears to phase the young actress. Even the book’s author was full of praise for Nélisse’s portrayal of his treasured protagonist, saying: “Sophie’s Liesel is the character’s spirit from the book transformed straight to the screen. The character is so intact, it is quite amazing.” And we would have to agree!
2. Hans Hubermann
If you are the kind of person who has a list of favourite fictional characters then be prepared to clear some space near the top for Hans! Whilst the character of Liesel is endearing, and she is expertly brought to life by Nélisse, it is her foster father Hans who steals the show and will capture the hearts of everybody who watches the film. Played by Geoffrey Rush, Hans is already the most beloved character in the book, but Rush somehow manages to add even more warmth and charm to his on-screen counterpart. Rush has brilliant chemistry with Emily Watson, who plays his wife Rosa, and the two bounce off each other as though they really have been married for years. However, it is Hans’ relationship with Liesel that really steals the show and by the end of the film there is guaranteed not to be a dry eye in the house.
Fans of the book were wary of how the film would incorporate the book’s narrator, the grim reaper himself. A true sign of Zusak’s creative talent, after all who is better acquainted or better equipped to tell you a wartime story than the Führer’s most loyal servant? Voiced by Roger Allam, Death does not appear on screen but is present throughout the film in the form of a chilling and elusive voiceover. He offers great perspective on everything that happens within the film and his fascination with Liesel is what makes the film’s conclusion all the more heartrending.
Speaking of perspective, how many English-language films can you think of that tell the story of German people in this way during World War II? The Book Thief offers a great alternative viewpoint that highlights how it doesn’t matter where you lived or what nationality you were during the horrors of World War II, all innocent people suffered the same: for example, when Liesel’s best friend has to watch his dad go off to war, when the Nazis go door to door trying to force others to sign up, when the mayor’s wife realises that her son isn’t coming back.
The Book Thief is visually beautiful, and quaint little Himmel Street really comes to life as the picturesque home to Liesel and her friends. Following Liesel through the seasons, The Book Thief has everything from crisp and glistening white snow that Liesel uses to bring her all-important weather reports to life, to the glittering blue lake by the woods where Liesel and her best friend contemplate running away from home and realise how much they hate Hitler.
From a breathtaking cast, complex and lovable characters, picturesque scenery and thought-provoking narrative, The Book Thief really has everything
The Book Thief is out now on Digital HD and on Blu-ray & DVD on 7 July from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.