That’s the first world that comes to mind when I try to explain my reaction to this film. The Book Thief is a novel known and loved by so many; I knew that it would be hard to capture in film something so adored in the written word. I’ve realized that the longer it’s been since I’ve read a book (and I nearly always read the book before the movie) the better chance there is that I’ll enjoy and appreciate the film for what it is because I won’t be constantly reminded of what has been left out. So instead of re-reading The Book Thief before I finally had the chance to see the movie, I reflected on which parts of it I remembered and loved most. I tried to think of what had made such a tragic, captivating, at times overwhelming story become such a fixture in my literary life. I think that the movie managed to capture the essence of the book.
The casting and acting were great. Even though no one was quite the way I’d visualized them while reading, each actor managed to capture their character so well that it wasn’t hard to realize that the parts that made up these characters were so much more important than little issues I had with appearance. The children were great, lifelike and full of energy one moment and staggering under the weight of war the next. Sometimes the accents were a little distracting or I wondered if some scenes could have been cut shorter to allow more to be fit into the film. But whatever issues I had with the movie were easily swayed because I was captured by the story all over again.
The only really distracting component, I suppose, was the voice of Death. I’d never imagined the narrator’s voice to be like that; it sounds like any other movie voiceover or more like one they’d use in a trailer for a comedy. I thought that the narrator would sound more common, not so out of place among people. Softer spoken, perhaps. Every time Death spoke up again was the only time I was jolted out of the movie world because I wished that it’d been done differently.
If you loved the book like I did, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed in this adaptation. I feel like many others see themselves in Liesel like I do, and not simply because she and I share a passion for books. She’s curious but fiercely loyal. We also see parts of her that we want to take for ourselves. We want to be as brave as she is. We want to be able to carry on, even in the face of immense tragedy.
I’d forgotten how this book ended and all that Liesel experienced. I cried for her. I think that if you have put off seeing this movie like I did, you won’t be disappointed by it. Instead, you’ll be welcomed into Liesel’s world once more.