Sunday, 16 March 2014

Blu-ray Review - The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Director: Brian Percival
Starring: Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nelisse
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Retail: $39.99
Running Time: 131 minutes
Rating: PG-13


Arriving on Blu-ray last week was the American-German war drama, The Book Thief, based on the novel of the same name by Markus Zusak. The film is directed by Brian Percival and stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Sophie Nelisse. Special Features include A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief to Life and deleted scenes.

Honestly, I had no idea the film the was set during WWII when I first saw the movie advertise last year. The only thing that caught my attention was the movie's title, as I am a huge book lover. I was aware of the fact that the film is based on a book, though I have never read the book before. I don't care to read books or watch movies set during this era, but I was still intrigued to see the film by just the title alone.

The opening and closing narration is by Death, who introduces the main character, a twelve-year-old named Liesel Meminger, who is sent to live with a German couple, Hans and Rosa Huberman (played by Geofrey Rush and Emily Watson) after her mother (a Communist) is no longer able to take care of her. The young girl is clutching a hold of a book (a gravedigger's manual) that she had found on the ground when her brother was buried. She is unable to read the book because she is illiterate.

Liesel's illiteracy becomes a problem on the first day of school when she can only write three X's on the chalkboard. Her fellow students weren't too kind to her, resulting in her beating the snot out of Franz Deutscher, which leads her to befriend Rudy. When Hans learns that she cannot read, it becomes his personal mission to help the Liesel learn how, which could be a huge mistake, as the girl now wants to read anything she can get her hands on.

Remember, this during WWII where there are Nazi book burning ceremonies, so Liesel has to be careful not to be caught with her books, especially those she takes from the mayor's house. Her life becomes even more in danger when her foster-parents decide to hide a Jewish refugee, Max Vandenburg.

While watching the Blu-ray, I was instantly engulfed into the haunting narrative. It is less of a WWII drama and more of a coming-to-age film, one that will tug at your heart at the very end. Sophie Nelisse gives a wonderful performance as the main character, Liesel. She has won a Satellite Award, a Hollywood Film Award and a Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for her performance. Sadly, the movie didn't receive much notice at the Academy Awards, except for the film being nominated for Best Score. I was surprised of the negative reviews the film received from critics, whom the majority thought the Nazi Germany setting was played out a bit too safe. In my humble opinion, the film is about Liesel and the Nazi Germany setting is just the background. Overall, I loved watching The Book Thief and I highly recommend the Blu-ray to everyone. 

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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