Movie Review: The Book Thief


The story Markus Zusak wrote is so powerful, it became one of the few film adaptations I believe did the novel justice. The actors are perfect to win viewers’ hearts and make the ending bitter. I left the theater in tears, like I closed the book heartbroken.

It opens with a train snaking through blankets of snow. The film was cold–we knew something bad was going to happen. We tried not to get comfortable with the scenery.

As we glide over the landscape, our narrator speaks.

Death is the narrator, like in the novel–but in the movie he’s mostly silent, allowing us to watch the story rather than read it.

Books and movies are two different art forms: Books are usually different on film. The Book Thief movie stayed true to the novel, faithful to details that made it a beautiful book.

They did a fantastic job handling the story, treating a modern-day classic with the care and respect it deserved.

Read my review of the book

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Photo Source: Heartland Truly Moving Pictures

Geoffrey Rush handled the role of Hans Hubermann magnificently.

I believe his character made the movie heart-wrenching: We see a good man and devoted father struggle–seeing evil before his eyes, fighting an instinct to do good. Though Liesel is the main character, a great deal of the story leans on him.

His suffering hurt me the most. I feel he represented good people–through him, we see the kind suffer most. Life seems to inflict more pain on those who least deserve it.

We are left with the question Why do good people suffer?

On that question, both book and movie leave us hanging.

Some critics say that the movie could have been stronger, that it ‘softened’ the reality of Nazi Germany. My response is that the focus was a little girl, whose greatest struggle was learning to read. If it had been the POV of Hans, I would understand that commentary–but from the view of a little girl, the movie was handled well.

Watch it, but remember your box of tissues.

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