The film “The book thief” was released in 2013 and is an amazing movie that shows the audience not just what it was like during Hitler’s time of rule but also how humanity can be found in any circumstances.
The story “The book thief” was originally a book written by Australian author Markus Zusak that was published in 2005, considering the book’s setting and theme ,historical fiction, and a limited budget of 19 million USD Brian Percival and the production never failed to give their audience a Nazi era with a point of view of a twelve year old girl with a love for books that fuels her into “borrowing” books and reading them in the safety of a basement full of words she gained.
“The book thief” is a show that can make us not just giggle but also get us in a teary-eyed situation. This paper thoroughly analyses the film in a Marxist critical approach.
In film theory, marxism because it shows audiences the time of the Holocaust or in other words Hitler’s time of rule.
The story begins with Death(Roger Allam) narrating the first couple of frames in the movie followed by Liesel’s mother taking both her children to foster care. While traveling on a train to their foster parents Liesel’s brother dies suddenly on the train leaving her mother and sister, Liesel meminger (Sophie N?lisse), devastated. Upon his burial by the tracks, Liesel stole a grave digger’s book when it fell from his coat.
Arriving in Heaven street(fictional place) Liesel meets her foster parents named Hans Huberman (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa Huberman (Emily Watson). At first Liesel was a bit hesitant to enter the Huberman’s home only to be welcomed by Hans that whom she took a liking further in the movie.
The next morning Rudy Steiner(Nico Liersch) knocks at the Huberman’s home inviting Liesel to come along with him to school, while in class Liesel was told to introduce herself and to write her name on the board because she can’t read nor write she wrote X’s that made her classmates laugh.
In the courtyard Liesel was surrounded by her classmate one of the boys, Franz Deutscher(Levin Liam), challenged her to read one word of the book only to be beaten up by Liesel. One night Hans went up to Liesel’s bedroom to check on her only to find her wide awake hugging a book. Approaching her bed Hans took the book from her asking if she understood what the book said, shaking her head, Hans started teaching her, further in the movie Hans reveals a basement with walls filled with words, which he calls a “Dictionary”.
While at a Nazi book burning ceremony Rudy and Liesel met Franz who forced her and Rudy to burn books. After the event Liesel sits by the side of the burnt pile of books, checking if there was anyone around she grabbed a salvageable book by the pile only to be spotted by Ilsa Hermann (Barbara Auer). Running the other direction she bumped into Hans, that later on found out what Liesel stole and promised her that it was a secret between the two of them.
While reading in their basesment a desperate knock on their door strattles the family, hurrying to his feet Hans opened the door only to find a jewish boy named Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) on their doorstep. Taking him in, the Huberman takes care of him in Liesel’s room.
One day Rosa sent Liesel to deliver the finished laundry to the Burgermeister’s home, upon arriving Liesel knocks on the door and hands the laundry to the maid. Liesel nervously waits for the payment, upon taking in her surroundings her eyes landed on Ilsa Hermann, but instead of telling her husband what she saw that night, she invited her to their library and even promised Liesel that she can come any time to read, which she did for a couple of days until the Burgermeister caught her.
He not only ended her visits but also ended Rosa’s service to him. December came and Liesel and Max were discussing about the wheather, only to be given a balled up snow by Liesel getting an idea she sneaks in a bucket full of snow only to be caught by Hans that helped her sneak more inside. Later that night, after playing snowball fight, the family huddled together in their basement while Hans plays the accordionn.
The next day due to the cold temperature in the basement Max catches hypothermia overnight worrying the family especially Liesel who stayed and read by his side. Once she rans out of books to read to him she started “Borrowing” from the Burgermeister’s library only to be caught by Rudy one day that lead them in an arguement.
The next day while playing soccer Liesel spotted some soldiers that were checking basements, hurriedly she went home to tell her foster parents who hides sick Max behind a Nazi Flag. Days past by, Liesel get’s an unexpected visit from Rosa during class, only to be suprised by the news of Max waking up. Rushing home she and Max were in the basement reading until an air raid alarm rang to let the towns people evacuate to the bomb shelter.
Except for Max whom went out to see the night skies in the empty town. The next Morning Hans was unexpectedly got conscripted for defending a jew being captured. After Max left later that night and hearing about Rudy being enlisted for elite training a hatred towards Hitler grew inside the heart of our heroine. A frame in the movie shows us Death narrating again during an air raid.
The morning after the air raid jews were parading on the street and Liesel rans in the crowd searching for Max. The movie ends with “Death” narrating again talking about how he takes the souls in Heaven street towns people. That night no air raid alarm rang as bombs fell from the skie like rain drops in the unsuspecting town of Heaven street.
Brian Percival’s “The book thief” really did touch me where the feels are, the characters weren’t the only one being well portrayed but also the cinematography of the movie, Percival showered his audience with booming sound effects, realistic scenery of a Nazi era making his audience believe that the small fictional town of Heaven street is real, applying it with historical time periods which are the main points of a succesful Historical-Ficton genre but there is just something lacking from Percival’s approach.
He had great actors like Roger Allam playing as Death , which was excelent by the way, he not just guided us through the story but more or less made us think about death itself in another perspective , in a not so sinister kind of way. While Sophie N?lisse, Nico Liersch, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Ben Schnetzer who not only made us giggle and made us feel warm inside but also made us a little teary eyed further in the movie.
What he lacks was futher details in the tear-jerking parts where he somehow rushes past this parts rather getting deeper into details. Details is a crucial part in historical-fiction it serves as a great audience impact part to pull viewers deeper into the story. But other than that Percival never did fail in making the 2-hour run movie a worthwhile to watch with family and friends.
In conclusion, the movie really did touch my heart and it gets me this feeling of love especially for the characters in the film how they show humanity amidts dangerous circumstances, how they show love for one another amidts WWII and it amazes me how Brain Percival and the production crew portrays every scene in the movie.