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Showing 1-10 of 2,804 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 3,007 reviews
on April 22, 2017
This 2013 film was based on the 2005 novel of the same name by Markus Zusak. Liesel is a young girl who is taken in by a foster family in Germany. Her adoptive father teaches her to read, and when the family hides a fleeing Jew named Max, Liesel takes to borrowing/stealing books that she reads to help keep his hopes and spirit alive.

There are some particularly fine performances from the actors who play Liesel (Sophie Nelisse) and her adoptive father (Geoffrey Rush), and their characterization is very good. I also appreciated how the film shows the effect of the war on ordinary German civilians, some of whom were caught up in the patriotism, but others who selflessly worked against the regime to protect life. This offers a fresh perspective on a subject (World War 2) which often sees the same ground covered in films, but fortunately that is not the case here. The film is rated PG-13, but mostly due to the violence that forms the background to the story and is more implied than shown; there's no real blood or gore. Without needing to resorting to graphic violence, the film shows the very real effect of war on lives like Liesel's. It also has a very positive message about self-sacrifice and love for the neighbour.

While there are many good aspects to the film, it still felt mediocre and disappointing. The personification of Death as narrator was jarring and confusing, and his message about the perplexity of human life was unclear; it's an empty message that offers no real hope, despite attempting to tug at heart-strings. Also unclear was the concept of how words have the power of life, and the title "Book Thief" only played a minor role in the film. From what I have learned subsequently, the book that the plot is based on emphasizes this much more strongly, and many people who have come from the book and watched the film found it a very unsatisfying adaptation. There's also several instances of blasphemy that are more typical of a modern audience rather than pre-war Germany.

Overall, perhaps this is a case of: Read the book, don't watch the movie. - GODLY GADFLY (April 2017)
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on June 15, 2014
The lessons of the Third Reich and the Holocaust cannot be overstated. Almost seventy years since the end of World War II witnesses to the atrocities of the Germans are dwindling to a few. The makers of "The Book Thief" have an interesting take on what occurred at that time. Seen through the eyes of a young girl, Liesel (Sophie Nelisse), the film begins prior to the invasion of Poland and ends when hostilities between the superpowers ends. Liesel begins the film as a fragile and frightened illiterate young girl taken from a mother with Communist sympathies to a young woman wizened to the horrors humanity is capable of but assured of her own moral compass. The setting of the film is the picaresque village Liesel goes to live with her adoptive parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson), and it serves as a microcosm of the cancer that infected the Fatherland. Liesel sees with eyes agape everything from a book burning to commemorate Der Fuhrer's birthday to Jews being marched though her town to their ultimate fate in the concentration camps. Nelisse giving a sterling performance anchors the film quite nicely. The supporting cast is uniformly excellent with a special shout out to young Nico Liersch who plays Liesel's friend, Rudy, a boy who emulates the African-American track star Jesse Owens. The beauty of the film is it works on an adult level but should be accessible to older adolescents and teenagers. This film serves as a primer to a time in our history we cannot and should not forget.
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on March 4, 2017
I was hesitant about watching this movie because the book summary suggested a bit of a slow moving plot - a girl who steals books and shares their stories.

But I think Ben Schentzer is a fabulous actor and he is in so few movies, I figured I would give it a shot.

This movie was a knockout - and I hope the young girl won an award because she just nailed her role.

It COULD be classified as slow moving to those who do not like movies that speak to them; this movie was deep and emotional. It is one of the few I have seen recently that makes you think and feel. and so much of that is due to the superb casting and phenomenal acting.
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on March 15, 2017
I'm one of those folks who read the book first (bought it in paperback and would have given it a 5). Needed to see what the screen did with it. Acting of the principals, sets, cinematography, and direction were superb. However, for a reader of the book, there wasn't enough of the book stealing in the film, and the grim reaper's overlay narrative was more of an unpleasant diversion than called for.
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on April 14, 2014
People often wonder how people-of-conscience in Germany could have allowed the Nazis to gather so much power and perpetrate the atrocities of the Holocaust. After World War II, many decried all Germans without differentiation. This touching drama, offers insight. Excellent acting and writing bring alive average people living under and reacting to a fascist regime. (Spoiler alert) We see Germany through the eyes of a young girl, Liesl, and the couple who takes her in to get extra rations when her mother, running from the roundups of Communists, can no longer care for her. When a young Jewish man, Max, runs to them for help, the husband takes him in, bound by honor to a promise to Max's father. Subsisting in the basement over next couple of years, Max sees the spark of intelligence and curiosity in Liesl who thirsts for words. He encourages her to read and to write; she inspires him to live when he becomes deathly ill.

The characters feel real and balanced, making tiny rebellions and survival-based compromises to live in frightening times. There is no villain, other than the disembodied Hitler, just people reacting for good or ill to a militarized society. Although the story is filled with tragedy from the very beginning, this is not a story about the horrors of the camps. It is about the effect of loss and oppression on everyday people. More importantly, it is about how the human spirit can miraculously survive overwhelming odds. It is a book about curiosity and creativity and how words can transform a prison and capture the emotions and colors of life. It about the spark of goodness that can be found in unexpected places.

I recommend this highly, despite the fact that I do not like tragedies.

For those concerned about such things, there is no gore or sex. There is minimal swearing, which might not even be considered to be by some. There is death, war, and implied inhumanity to man, which are so much more offensive to me.
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on May 21, 2016
I loved this movie. I really, really loved the book. The language in the book gave me the chills, in a good way. Can't do too much of that in the movie, but it is very well done. When I really love a book, I lots of times can't stand the film adaption because I want the book essentially rendered to the screen, which doesn't always work out so well. But I do love this movie. I loved Emily Watson, who played the gruff Rosa; she does a great job. I think all the actors were good; she just tickled me most. Just perfect. This is a WW II film, so you know, not all is flowers and sunshine. But it is worthwhile.
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on December 13, 2016
Though this movie creates some heartbreak, it is a beautiful movie, based on the wonderful book. The cast was perfectly chosen and they were all amazing. Sometimes I feel like people might think I am morbid because I think movie with outcomes such as this can be beautiful, but I really am not morbid. The story is beautiful, the things that can be learned are beautiful, and the writing is more than beautiful. I am picky about the writing of these kinds of stories, but I was very impressed and pleased and they created this movie with the feelings you get from the vivid imagery in the book. I have never cried more in a book/movie than I do in this, and I cry hard every single time, but it is still, by far, my favorite.
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on July 13, 2016
SOOOOO much better and more detailed than the movie - this book is one of the best I have ever read. It is not a feel good, happy book - it is a historical fiction novel with a strong story, strong details, and strong characters. I listened to the audio book, and my daughter (at ages 10-13) read the digital copy many times (she is a deep child, not disturbed by this type of novel, not appropriate for all kids - I would label it a 13+ selection).n I LOVED the narration of the audio book - they did an awesome job with it! The book is VERY LONG, though - so when doing audio, perhaps speed up the play back a little bit. :-)
This is a book that speaks such reality about how things WERE in the world that all should read it to take note of how to keep humanity from repeating itself.
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on May 19, 2016
I have never both read the book and watched the film versions of any novel. My reason is that if I read the book and didn't like it, there's no point watching the film and if I really liked the book but the film turns out to be bad, then I just ruined the good experience I had reading the book. And this goes vice versa if I would watch the film first. Yet somehow I got inclined to watch this film right after I finished the book. I now realize that films are only adaptations where some characters and certain parts of the story are modified (obviously because they cannot possibly fit the whole story in a two or two and a half hour film). I would, however, recommended reading the book version of any novel first before watching its film. Your own imagination can play a lot more while you read without being influenced by what you would have seen in the movie had you watched the film first.

Since I had read the full story in the book first before watching the shortened version in film, I felt the movie could get confusing because of certain details that were left out. Also, the film did not depict the depth of Liesel’s relationships with Rudy, with Max Vandenburg, with Hans Hubermann, with Rosa Hubermann, and with Ilsa Hermann —all of which were central to the story. In addition, the film did not depict the increasing boldness in the thieving either, which was not only central to the story but to the way it had shaped Liesel’s character.
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on March 18, 2017
The Book Thief is one of my favorite books of all time so I had high hopes but low expectations for the film. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoy it as much as I do. Good acting, and the changes fron the book weren't all together unacceptable. I'll always love the book more but this didn't disappoint.
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