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The Book Thief (2014)

Sophie Nélisse , Emily Watson , Brian Percival  |  PG-13 |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (764 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Sophie Nélisse, Emily Watson, Geoffrey Rush
  • Directors: Brian Percival
  • Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: 20th Century Fox
  • DVD Release Date: March 11, 2014
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (764 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00G15MDI0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Book Thief" on IMDb

Editorial Reviews

Skillfully pared down from Markus Zusak's celebrated young adult novel, The Book Thief presents a somewhat sanitized glimpse of Nazi Germany and the war from the uniquely innocent view of an adolescent girl. At first the perspective seems to be from the narrator, a bored, yet amused voice we learn is Death, presumably taking a brief holiday to comment on the experience of young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and the evolving disruptions around her. After Liesel is separated from her brother and mother in sharp and unsettling fashion, she lands at the home of protective, penurious foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a small village somewhere in the picturesque German countryside. When she's teased at school for being illiterate, the kindly Hans makes a fun project of teaching her to read. Rosa is a persnickety presence for both of them, but it's mainly a façade as the couple embrace Liesel tighter even as the situation around them grows more dire. At a Nazi book burning a horrified Liesel surreptitiously snatches a random volume from the flames. The wife of the local Bürgermeister is the only one who notices, and she compassionately allows Liesel to visit her dead son's library, where she soon earns the movie's title moniker. Liesel's newfound love of literature begins informing her actions as more is revealed about the Hubermanns and the toll of wartime village life becomes more desperate. Liesel makes two friends who are vague romantic draws--her thoughtful, rebellious neighbor Rudy, and Max, the Jewish son of a man to whom Hans owes his life. The Hubermanns risk everything by hiding Max, a shining light of idealized nobility for Liesel. The Book Thief is lackadaisical and episodic, with an affecting spirit brought to life by all the performances and the exceptional period detail. Rush is superb as a lovable, complicated man, as is Watson, whose stern manner is only a mask. Nélisse steals the show, along with many hearts, by portraying Liesel as a malleable force whose passivity develops into nascent intensity as she grows up with the horrible changes unfolding around her. Death has a place, and not just as a commentator. But the villainy of Nazism and shadow of the Holocaust evades center stage as an overriding focus of this moving story. Less a tearjerker than a tear-tugger, The Book Thief steals heartfelt emotion, though it will mostly be gladly given. The first-rate score is by John Williams, taking a break from Steven Spielberg's production ensemble for the first time in a long while. --Ted Fry

Product Description

Based on the beloved best-selling book comes this profoundly moving story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. Although Liesel (Sophie N‚lisse) is illiterate when she is adopted by a German couple (OSCARr Winner Geoffrey Rush* and Emily Watson**), her adoptive father encourages her to learn to read. Ultimately, the power of words helps Liesel and Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding in the family's home, escape from the events unfolding around them in this extraordinary, acclaimed film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
153 of 160 people found the following review helpful
All too often a movie turns out to be less than what the trailers lead you to expect, but every now and then there's a movie that surprises you by being more. The Book Thief is one of those movies. Directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey, North & South) from a screenplay by Michael Petroni (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) adapted from the novel of the same name by Marcus Zusak, The Book Thief does not lend itself to easy categorization. On the surface, you'd think from the trailers that it's an Anne Frank sort of film, a young girl's POV about life under the Nazis and about a family hiding a young Jewish man in their house. But it's more than that, a lot more.

You know you're in for something different when the film begins with the narrated line "Here's a small fact: you're going to die." You know you're in for something really different when you realize that the narrator is Death. And it is Death who introduces us to Liesel (marvelously played by Sophie Nélisse) a young German girl riding on a train with her very ill younger brother, being taken to a place she does not know to live with people she's never met. Her brother does not make it, dying before they reach their destination, resulting in the train stopping for an impromptu burial service. As they are departing the grave, Sophie notices a book that fell out of the makeshift shroud her brother had been buried in and on an impulse she steals it, wanting to have something to remember him by. Her first stolen book, but as it turns out, far from her last.

When Liesel reaches her destination, she is taken to meet the couple who are to become her foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann.
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95 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I am haunted by humans" November 28, 2013
Those who love Markus Zusak's The Book Thief as I do will know that it is an incredibly complex novel - the way the main characters intersect each other's lives and the themes that are developed throughout the novel are deep and layered and would make for a daunting on-screen translation. Yet director Brian Percival manages to make the movie accessible to viewers whilst staying true to the source material. This may not be a blow-by-blow, faithful to each and every word adaptation, but to me at least, it is a true adaptation in portraying the essence of the story. I love the book but I also loved the movie, for similar and different reasons.

The story of The Book Thief begins with the narrator, Death (Roger Allam), providing a sort of overview/introduction. Fortunately, the narrator's voice is not dominant throughout the story as it would (to me) have been a rather distracting voice, but the narrator's presence is felt nevertheless. The protagonist in this film is Liesel (Sophie Nelisse in a ground-breaking performance), a young teenager who comes to live with her foster parents, Hans Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush) and his wife, the acid- tongued Rosa (Emily Watson). The setting at the beginning of the story is Germany in 1938 and the story goes on till the end of WW II. Liesel's mother is a Communist and has been packed off somewhere, presumably a camp, for this is after all Nazi Germany.

The story focuses on Liesel's relationship with her foster parents, her best friend, Rudy (Nico Liersch), and her life-defining friendship with Max (Ben Schnetzer), the young Jewish man hiding in her parents' basement.
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122 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Movies I've Ever Seen November 16, 2013
Note: I saw an advanced screening of The Book Thief.

The Book Thief is a book that has stuck with me for so many years, there is just something so powerful and raw about Zusak's novel. The Book Thief has to be one of the trickiest books to adapt because it's far from a simple story. The novel is nearly 600 pages and it's main narrator is Death himself commenting on the events of World War II. How could Brian Percival (Downton Abbey) direct such a movie without doing the novel injustice?

The Book Thief is true to it's source material, even though it doesn't maintain all of the major plot events in the novel. The filmmakers rarely utilized Death's narration, so the few times they did use it, it felt a bit awkward and out of place. I didn't get quite the chills from hearing his narration like I did when I had read the book. Despite the unevenness of the narration, The Book Thief really captures the essence of Liesel's story. All of the characters were truly perfectly cast, the dialogue is well done and the film truly captures all of the emotion from Zusak's novel.

Sophie Nelisse is essentially a newcomer to Hollywood and this is her first major role in a movie. I really hope Nelisse wins an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance because it's absolutely unbelieveable. Nelisse's performance is absolutely unbelievable and it's clear to me that Nelisse is an extremely talented actress. Even though Nelisse shares screentime with veterans like Watson and Rush, Nelisse truly steals the show and easily makes viewers fall in love with Liesel.

Both Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson did wonders in The Book Thief, they truly translated the characters from the book into their performances in a flawless manner.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy some kleenex before watching this.
Excellent story. Good production. Well acted. There are not many films I would like to own, but this is one of them. Went straight to my top ten favorites.
Published 1 hour ago by J. R. Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Journey
This was an excellent movie! It was an emotional journey throughout the entire movie! The actors portrayed the characters perfectly, well worth watching!
Published 3 hours ago by Lisa
5.0 out of 5 stars Another insight to the affects of WWII
The Book Thief is a well crafted movie. It brings to light the daily lives of the common German people, the pressure the government put on them and the fear everyone felt. Read more
Published 3 hours ago by Sue Young
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie!
If you read the book, you are expecting a great movie as well and this one delivers! Wonderful performances, beautifully done.
Published 3 hours ago by J. Allman
4.0 out of 5 stars NICE MOVIE
Published 4 hours ago by J. Antonio Vidales Flores
5.0 out of 5 stars Until death do us part
Very interesting movie with Death as narrator. A few gaps, but ultimately very satisfying. I recommend watching for nearly all ages.
Published 4 hours ago by Peter J Bassett
5.0 out of 5 stars Emotionally spellbinding
Enjoy it with your kids. Has history, love, adventure and surprise. I wish there were more movies like this. Haunted me for may days....
Published 5 hours ago by Leslie Lierly
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Sad, but great movie!
Very well cast! Portray's the other side of very difficult times in our history and the struggles of everyday people in a time of madness.
Published 6 hours ago by Jay W Rockstroh
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Synopsis of Life
It tells a good story and has a nice message. It is however a WWII story so prepare yourself. I bought the book after I watched the movie though because I liked it and wanted more... Read more
Published 7 hours ago by Linda-Lee Murphy
5.0 out of 5 stars Just awesome
Such a touching movie. I really loved it, and highly recommend it. The acting is great from everyone in this film.
Published 14 hours ago by rachel porturas
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