The Book Thief (2013)





Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Sandra Nedeleff, Hildegard Schroedter, Rafael Gareisen, Gotthard Lange, Godehard Giese, Roger Allam, Oliver Stokowski, Barbara Auer, Heike Makatsch, Lein Liam, Carina Wiese


While subjected to the horrors of World War II Germany, young Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse) is forced to live with adoptive parents Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa Hubermann (Emily Watson). She will eventually find solace by stealing books and sharing them with others, especially with Max (Ben Schnetzer), the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster family.


*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A few month ago I read this beautiful, extraordinary, moving book called The Book Thief, written by some Markus Zusak. Never before I felt so engaged, and enchanted by a book. It left me speechless, and I've been thinking about it quite a lot, more, however, than I usually do. I loved every single aspect of the book. The characters. The plot. The tragic, yet beautiful ending. The Death.

Then last night I watched this film, and I could barely make it through it. Probably one of the worst screen adaptation ever made, Percival's The Book Thief is a tedious, bloody awful film.

The film is bad on so many levels it's hard to explain, but I'll try. First of all, calling a cinematographic adaptation a thing that barely follows the book, and basically skips half of it, leaving tons of important events, and scenes behind, is an insult. The script jumps from a thing to another, and it's impossible for someone who read the book to follow. 

One of the strong elements of the book is the creative narration. Instead of just using a third-person narrator, Zusak used Death and he was able to offer a unique perspective on all the death and dying occurring during this dark period in history. In the film, Death is barely there, she just shows up at random. Furthermore, the final image of Death walking along the streets is nothing but inappropriate, and completely disconnect from the content.

The characters, what a mess. Every single character, even minor ones, has a strong development in the book. Here, there is no character development, and you feel completely disconnected to all of them. Rudy is annoying, and acts like a jealous boyfriend, and his relationship with Liesel is so downplayed. Then, when he dies at the end of the film, it does not have the same emotional charge that it should have. Actually, it has none.

As if all of that wasn't enough, the film doesn't even manage to capture the horrors of Nazi Germany, and that's really bad considering this is an American and German production.

The acting pops out like a dandelion in the snow, but I must say that none of the actors looked how I imagined the characters. Despite the awful script she had to work with, young Sophie Nélisse does a good job in the role of Liesel Meminger. The other young lead, Nico Liersch, also does a good job. Geoffrey Rush as Hans Hubermann and Emily Watson as his wife do their best to save this unsavable mess. Ben Schnetzer does not an awful job as Max, but he is less convincing than the others.

The sad thing is that this film could have had Oscar written all over it, but it is just a waste of time and money. Do yourself a favour, avoid this film and read the book, instead.


  1. Più passa il tempo, più mi rendo conto di essere l'unica ad aver preferito il film al libro O.O

    1. Sul serio? Non credevo esistessero persone che hanno preferito il film al libro. Comunque resta il fatto che ognuno è libero di avere la propria opinione :)