Films about the Nazis are plentiful and varied, from Indiana Jones to Schindler’s List and Downfall. The Book Thief adds to this list. Set in Nazi Germany, this film focuses on a young girl, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) who is placed in the care of Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Liesel is withdrawn from her new family at first but opens up as she learns to read, with the help of Hans. Things get worse and worse for Liesel as the war goes on around her and she loses more and more.
And that’s really what the film is about. It’s about how the war went on around these ordinary German people, including, of course, book burnings. There are moments of Nazi douche-baggery and brutality but the film focuses on this family and the constant fear they lived in.
In this exceptionally strong cast, Emily Watson’s character is my favourite. She starts off being what can only be described as an insensitive bitch but she changes as Liesel grows and becomes a real character who you can genuinely believe in. Rush as usual delivers a brilliant performance as the loveable Hans and the entire cast delivers great performances.
The narrator, the Angel of Death (Roger Allam), for me takes away from this film. While his narration in the books ties everything together, in the film, he was too obvious. He just explained the subtleties of the film rather than adding anything. It took away from the emotion and could have been done far better.
Altogether, The Book Thief is a good film with excellent acting but one I feel just falls short of amazing.