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Book Thief

The Book Thief

5.0 4
Director: Brian Percival,

Cast: Brian Percival, Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson


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A young girl (Sophie Nelisse) living with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in Nazi Germany begins collecting forbidden books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee hiding in her home in this war drama adapted from Markus Zusak's book by screenwriter


A young girl (Sophie Nelisse) living with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in Nazi Germany begins collecting forbidden books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee hiding in her home in this war drama adapted from Markus Zusak's book by screenwriter Michael Petroni (The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys) and director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Director Brian Percival's adaptation of the international best-seller The Book Thief is the kind of earnest, handsomely produced, well-meaning, tearjerking historical drama that brings to mind the lament voiced by the character of Clarence in Quentin Tarantino's script for True Romance -- that there are too many unwatchable movies made from unreadable books. While that sentence is assuredly too harsh for this picture, the sentiment behind it rings true. The film stars Sophie Nelisse as Liesel, who, as the story opens, is an 11-year-old girl living in Germany just before the start of World War II. Her mother is giving both Liesel and her younger brother up for adoption, but her sibling dies en route. As they perform a makeshift funeral, a small book drops from the pocket of one of the men and the young girl quickly pockets it -- letting us know that she is the title character. She arrives in a small German town and meets her new stepparents, the severe Rosa (Emily Watson) and the playful Hans (Geoffrey Rush), who have chosen to care for unfamiliar children because of the monthly allowance it brings into their poor household. Liesel soon begins getting reading lessons from Hans and befriends a neighborhood boy named Rudy. Although her new family is German, they do not belong to the Nazi party, which makes them objects of suspicion in the town. That paranoia grows even sharper when a teenage Jew named Max (Ben Schnetzer), who has a connection to Hans, shows up at their home and needs to be hidden from authorities. Liesel is forced to keep their secret, and Max turns out to be an excellent friend for the young girl. The Holocaust is, understandably, a subject that primes an audience to cry, and when The Book Thief reveals in its opening minute that its disembodied narrator is the voice of Death itself, either your defenses go up immediately and you harden to stone or you settle in with a truck full of tissues. The movie so obviously wants to put you through the wringer that it's impossible to let yourself enjoy Liesel's fleeting moments of happiness, since you know they only exist so they can be crushed. Having Death provide the narration for Liesel's life is an obvious literary conceit, and if it were the only one, it might not grate as much as it does here. Sadly, books, reading, and storytelling are all central themes of the movie -- even if you didn't know going in that it was a literary adaptation, it would be obvious almost immediately. Even with Florian Ballhaus' exquisite cinematography, which recalls the great Gordon Willis in its expressive use of darkness, The Book Thief is frustratingly uncinematic -- you can appreciate the artful visuals, but it ends up feeling like a checklist of scenes from a book, not a natural narrative that flows from one scene to the next. The actors are uniformly strong, with Geoffrey Rush walking away with the movie as the gentle-hearted Hans. The character is no less of a contrivance than anything else in this overly designed story, but Rush gives him an undeniable humanity that makes the audience empathize with the toll that being a good man in a bad world takes on kind souls. When the film finally reaches an ending that strains to maximize both tears of sadness and heartwarming uplift, some viewers will be a total emotional mess. Yet many others will feel like they just sat through a well-intentioned but ultimately empty book report.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Deleted scenes

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Sophie Nelisse Liesel
Geoffrey Rush Hans
Emily Watson Rosa
Ben Schnetzer Max
Nico Liersch Rudy
Roger Allam Narrator,Death
Heike Makatsch Liesel's Mother
Julian Lehmann Liesel's Brother
Gotthard Lange Grave Digger
Rainer Reiners Priest
Kirsten Block Frau Heinrich
Ludger Bokelmann Football Urchin #1
Paul Schalper Football Urchin #2
Nozomi Linus Kaisar Fat Faced Goalie
Oliver Stokowski Alex Steiner
Robert Beyer Jewish Accountant
Hildegard Schroedter Frau Becker
Levin Liam Franz Deutscher
Sandra Nedeleff Srah
Rafael Gareisen Walter Nazi Soldier
Carl Heinz Choynski Jüergen the Groundsman
Carina Wiese Barbara Steiner
Rainer Bock Buergmeister Hermann
Barbara Auer Ilsa Hermann
Sebastian Hülk Gestapo Agent
Matthias Matschke Wolfgang
Beata Lehmann Woman with Champagne
Laina Schwarz Neighbor
Marie Burchard Neighbor
Georg Tryphon Neighbor
Joachim Paul Assböck Officer
Martin Ontrop Herr Lehmann
Jan Andres Fellow Conscript
Stephanie Stremler Post Woman

Technical Credits
Brian Percival Director
Florian Ballhaus Cinematographer
Ken Blancato Producer
Phil Booth Asst. Director
Kate Dowd Casting
Simon Elliott Production Designer
Katja Fischer Set Decoration/Design
Christoph Fisser Co-producer
Michael Fissneider Set Decoration/Design
Glenn Freemantle Sound/Sound Designer
Nefzer Babelsberg GmbH Special Effects
Fae Hammond Makeup
Jens Löckmann Art Director
Jens Schmiedel Special Effects Supervisor
John Wilson Editor
Marika Knappe Makeup
Henning Molfenter Co-producer
Redmond Morris Executive Producer
Anja Müller Art Director
Uli Nefzer Special Effects Supervisor
Michael Petroni Screenwriter
Karen Rosenfelt Producer
Anna Sheppard Costumes/Costume Designer
John Williams [composer] Score Composer
Charlie Woebcken Co-producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Book Thief
1. Scene 1
2. Scene 2
3. Scene 3
4. Scene 4
5. Scene 5
6. Scene 6
7. Scene 7
8. Scene 8
9. Scene 9
10. Scene 10
11. Scene 11
12. Scene 12
13. Scene 13
14. Scene 14
15. Scene 15
16. Scene 16
17. Scene 17
18. Scene 18
19. Scene 19
20. Scene 20
21. Scene 21
22. Scene 22
23. Scene 23
24. Scene 24
25. Scene 25
26. Scene 26
27. Scene 27
28. Scene 28
29. Scene 29
30. Scene 30
31. Scene 31
32. Scene 32
33. Scene 33
34. Scene 34
35. Scene 35
36. Scene 36


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The Book Thief 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Book Thief" is a wonderful story...both the book and the movie! Perry Seibert's cynical review above is a typical movie critic's "opinion".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the most beautiful film I have ever seen! I relate to Rudy so much, i love him.  By far, he is my favorite character. I cried incredibly hard in the theatres, but i loved the happy moments too. I am extremely excited to finally own this on DVD! I hope everyone else adores this movie as much as i do!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago