The Book Thief is based on a novel written by Markus Zusak and adapted into a movie with the same name. It was released in 2013 and is a World War II drama.
How it Begins
The story is narrated by Death who tells us the story of a young girl Liesel Meminger. Liesel and her brother are sent to a foster family in Munich. While travelling there her brother dies and is buried next to the train tracks.
It is here that Liesel steals her first book, “The Grave Diggers Handbook” which has fallen out of the gravedigger’s pocket. Liesl arrives at her new home and meets her foster parents.
She makes friends with Rudy and they become fast friends. At school Liesel is ridiculed because she is unable to read, but her foster father, Hans helps Liesel to read.
Liesl “Borrows” Books
The film takes place during the height of Nazism in Germany, long before the advent of betting sites, and it is at a book burning ceremony that Liesel is seeing taking a book from the fire by the mayor’s wife.
Rosa, who does laundry for the mayor’s wife asks Liesel to drop of the laundry and it is here where Liesel realises that she had been seen taking the book.
Liesel is allowed to go into the library and is allowed to come and go as she pleases but the mayor discovers his wife’s secret and is not happy about the intrusion in his home.
Max the Jew
We are introduced to Max Vandenburg, a Jew, who has to escape and finds refuge at the Hubermann’s home. Max and Liesel become great friends. Max stays in the basement of the Hubermann’s home, but soon falls very ill.
Liesel helps Max regain his health and reads to him. Although Liesel has been banned from the mayor’s home she has been climbing in the window to “borrow” books.
There is of course the constant worry that the Nazis would discover that Max is being hidden in the basement.
Rudy however finds out Liesel’s secret and he is sworn to secrecy. Of course the bully of the story Franz threatens Rudy to reveal his secret and Rudy goes to great lengths to protect Liesel and her family.
The Book Thief also shows the way the Jews were treated when Hans comes to the rescue of his friend Lehman who is taken away by the Nazis because he is a Jew.
Hans is now a target and this has put his own family in danger. Hans is later conscripted and has to join the army.
The Book Thief is a wonderful story that gives a glimpse into the life of a group of people living under Nazi tyranny.
The cast is well chosen and deliver excellent portrayals of their characters. The story is a combination of humour, sadness and moments where you find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat.
This is a must see, not only for World War II enthusiasts, but also for anyone wanting to enjoy an excellent well-acted historically themed movie with a rich storyline.