Author Markus Zusak's novel, The Book Thief, was on the New York Times Bestseller list for 230 weeks and is one of the major books of the 21st century. The book was published in 2005 and has now been made into a feature film Directed by Brian Percival from an adapted script by Michael Petroni. The film slightly plays down the impact of the deathly narrator and rather concentrates on the human characters. A wonderful ensemble with Geoffrey & Sophie sharing the screen with Emily Watson, young newcomer Nico Liersch and a scene-stealing Ben Schnetzer who plays Max. German DP Florian Ballhaus mixes in beautiful bright Bravarian snow with isolated city life and WWII era transportation shots to give the film an epic touch. Add on the subtle and soothing score by legendary composer John Williams and you have one of the year's real hit films. It mixes the innocence of youth with the harsh realities of life and then truncates all of that with the brutalities of war. It's a well shot, amazingly acted tale taken from a book that should be read in all schools.
Here is the interview:
The film is in that perfect time period for award consideration and should garner some love for it's unique look into WWII Nazi Germany.
My three favorite moments or elements from the film are:
3. Florian Ballhaus' near-the-opening sequence where we whip through the clouds down into the path of a rumbling German train slicing through the snow. It's lovely and yet feels bigger then life and immediately pulls you in the changing world of one, Liesel. Florian completely captures the innoncence and yet striking growth of young talent Sophie Nelisse.
2. The banter between Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson is pure bliss. Emily's harsh motherly tones are perfectly complimented by Rush' quirky lovable antics. And yet when Max arrives the loving duo really comes alive as they have to "deal" with another mouth to feed…and to hide. First they have to slowly take in a family-less Liesal and then a family-less Max. The Aussie/English duo seems to have the loving nods and winks down perfectly. It's a majestic dance they put on throughout.
1. Sophie and Nico's constant youthful flirtation is a staple of the movie. We see their friendship grow with a gentle nudge from Rush' Hans. They battle bullies, sneak around town and always race to the nearest finish line. The lovely blonde kids share the most tender moments of trust and even struggle with the secrets they must keep hidden from each other. Sophie is a real treasure as she's able to perfectly mingle with Hans, Emily Watson's rough Rosa, the mysterious Max, but it's her time with Nico's Rudy that is most endearing. Their final embrace is a heartbreaking moment that will stick with you.
Enjoy the film, it's out now in and around DFW.