I’m really, really into spending time with my family so when my mum and grandma said that they were off to see The Book Thief in the cinema I just had to join them. I had already seen the adverts for it and thought it looked great so I was actually quite excited.
On the way to the cinema my mum couldn’t stop raving about how good the book of The Book Thief was (I hadn’t read it but had a vague idea what it was all about) but that she wasn’t expecting much because the reviews were/are really bad. Now I make a point of not putting any stock into what newspaper and media critics say because I’ve mostly found that in the past I’ve disagreed. But what I did know was that it was set in Nazi Germany and was about a little girl, just those two facts let me know that this couldn’t be a happy film and I was right… but just because it wasn’t happy doesn’t mean it wasn’t great!
We went to the Watford Vue cinema which is one of two Vue cinemas near me. The parking is amazing there, no parking fees at all (you can’t go wrong with that!). The tickets were £9.95 which is fairly standard for around here although because I still remember the days when going to the cinema would cost a tenner including the large popcorn and drink I think it’s expensive. Anyway … back to the film.
The Book Thief is rated as PG-13 and my mum and I definitely saw some under 10’s in there, I would take the rating very lightly though and perhaps recommend that really only 12 and ups should see it. Although the book was written as a family/children’s book, the film is quite dark in places and has some very heavy themes. The introduction of the film is narrated by the voice of death – this isn’t a spoiler because it’s extremely obvious straight away, and sets the tone for the rest of the film.
The main protagonist is acted by Sophie Nélisse, she plays , Liesel Meminger, a 13 year old girl who’s whole life is thrown out of balance when she is taken to stay with new parents. Her new ‘papa’ (played by Geoffrey Rush) is sweet and welcoming and not afraid to make himself look a little bit silly to make her feel more welcome. While her new ‘mama’ (played by Emily Watson) is instantly dislikeable and quite mean. I’m not going to tell you much more about the film because I don’t want to spoil it (I HATE spoilers so I’m certainly trying my hardest not to give you any!) but there are lots of little themes, with the backing of a Nazi Germany, starting from 1938, (with scenes covering Kristallnacht, book burning, Nazi schooling and recruiting and marching Jews through the streets) there is a blossoming romance between Liesel and Rudy, bullying, learning, stealing/borrowing, friendship (especially with Max) and loss. Saying that, there are lots of tense and heartfelt moments and plenty of hold-your-breath scenes. As I said, even though this film is marketed as a family film I really don’t think I would go to see it with anyone under 12.
Because of the holocaust and Nazi themes I was a bit worried that that my grandma, who was 10 at the start of the war, would have been disturbed by the film (which is completely from the point of view of Germans) but she enjoyed it just as much as my mum and me. I have to say that its a clear sign (to me anyway) that everyone watching the filmed thoroughly enjoyed it if at the end, when the credits start to roll, no one gets up to leave straight away.
Overall I would say The Book Thief was brilliant!! Yes it does brush over a lot of what happened during the war but then again that wasn’t the main focus. And yes, like some of the negative reviews claim, it did gloss over a lot of really brutal events, but again the film (and book) is seen from the point of view of a 13 year old girl so how harsh could it be? I KNOW that I’ll be buying the DVD of The Book Thief when it comes out and I’ll definitely recommend it to my friends.