HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Moxie!
Five Women for the Killer
Dolce Vita, La
Pig
I Am Belmaya
Lodger, The
Show, The
Beta Test, The
Medium, The
John and the Hole
Survivalist, The
Ape Woman, The
Black Widow
Cop Secret
Dark Eyes of London, The
V/H/S/94
Fay Grim
Night of the Animated Dead
Freshman Year
Escape Room: Tournament of Champions
Anne at 13,000 Ft.
Even Mice Belong in Heaven
Death Screams
Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr.
Demonia
East, The
Mandabi
Seance
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
   
 
Newest Articles
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
   
 
  Book Thief, The Words Are Life
Year: 2013
Director: Brian Percival
Stars: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Nico Liersch, Ben Schnetzer, Barbara Auer, Roger Allam
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 1 vote)
Review: On a train travelling across Germany in the winter of 1938 a young girl named Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) first glimpses Death when he claims the life of her little brother. Liesel's mother, a Communist fleeing Nazi persecution, leaves her in foster care with a poor couple in a small German town: kind-hearted Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush) and his stern, short-tempered wife Rosa (Emily Watson). At first Liesel struggles adjusting to her new life. Her lack of schooling makes her a target for playground bullies though it turns out she can handle herself in a fight. Liesel finds an admirer in Rudy (Nico Liersch), a joyful little boy and promising athlete who becomes her devoted friend. When Hans teaches Liesel how to read he awakens in her an irrepressible love of books and storytelling. Unfortunately, in a bid to purge Germany of the corrupting influence of intellectuals the Nazis initiate mass book burning rallies across the nation, driving Liesel to 'borrow' new books in secret. Amidst this climate of fear, the Hubermanns shelter a young Jewish refugee named Max (Ben Schnetzer). He also befriends Liesel fueling her love of books as a way of keeping hope alive in the face of the ever-lurking, omniscient spectre of Death.

Adapted from the award-winning international bestseller written by Markus Zusak The Book Thief inexplicably drew a muted critical response when it is actually among the most lyrical, profound and plain heart-rending war dramas in recent years. Some felt the film was too polished, another tasteful, meticulously crafted literary adaptation glossing over the true visceral horrors of war. Yet this is clearly not the case. For one thing, the film does not lack for grit. Brian Percival, veteran of numerous British television serials including Downton Abbey, paints a painfully vivid portrayal of poverty and suffering in a world in almost literal shades of gray: Liesel joins an angelic school choir singing anti-Semitic songs, Nazi thugs brutalize Jewish shopkeepers in the streets, children cheer when war is declared, and an elderly neighbour angrily chastises Rudy for blacking himself up like his idol Olympic athletics champion Jesse Owens.

Zusak's book is a fable. In adapting it for the screen Percival and Australian screenwriter Michael Petroni, a director in his own right, adopt an appropriately lyrical, humanistic tone enabling viewers to empathize with those caught on the other side of the war. It is a rare story told not from an Allied perspective nor even those swept up the dreadful events of the Holocaust but rather ordinary, everyday Germans who at worst stood idly by or at best, like the Hubermanns, tried to make some small difference in the face of overwhelming powerlessness. The film deftly illustrates how fear breeds conformity, enabling the petty cruelty to blossom into greater evil as with the schoolyard bully who, humiliated after having his ass kicked by a girl, goes out of his way to inform on his neighbours, and reducing those with good intentions to powerless bystanders such as the Burgermeister's wife (Barbara Auer) who secretly allows Liesel to read books from her vast private library. Eventually characters we grow to love and care about are conscripted into the Nazi cause, good people caught in an impossible situation between Adolf Hitler and Allied bombs.

Although The Book Thief's measured, deliberate pacing leaves it at times reminiscent of a high quality children's serial from the BBC, in taking its own time the episodic narrative skilfully etches the multiple characters who each shape Liesel's outlook on life. The story charts Liesel's growing intellectual development as her increasing facility with words enable her to paint a verbal picture of the outside world for poor sheltered Max. For although Death (voiced by Roger Allam) serves as narrator and remains a significant theme, the story is really a love letter to the written word. As Max tells Liesel: "Words are life." The film shows how words and stories are the means by which we illuminate existence and make sense of the unfathomable. In a memorable scene during a bomb raid Liesel lifts the spirits of the sheltering townsfolk with a story. At one point her words literally give strength back to Max. Later on the very act of writing saves one character's life. The performances of the ensemble cast deserve more praise than they received, from seasoned pros Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson (who is especially good as Rosa) to stellar turns from newcomers Ben Schnetzer and Nico Liersch, but the heart of the film lies with gifted French-Canadian child actress Sophie Nélisse. Liesel is a captivating heroine, a scrappy little thing who can beat the tar out of the school bully, outrun any boy and endure injury to save a life, yet remains heartbreakingly vulnerable. Befuddled by the ugliness and beguiled by the wonder that surrounds her. In her first English speaking role Nelisse mesmerizes from the moment she first appears on screen marveling at the sudden manifestation of Death. With soulful eyes and a wonderfully expressive face, Nélisse gives a performance of tremendous heart, nuance and sensitivity.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2228 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: