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THE BOOK THIEF Blu-ray Review – A Unique WWII Tale

The Book Thief
PG-13....131 min.....Drama, War
March 11, 2014

the book thief
© 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

DIRECTOR: .Brian Percival
WRITER: .Michael Petroni
Based on the Novel by Markus Zusak
the book thief
Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Ben Schnetzer, Nico Liersch, Roger Allam
the book thief
the book thief
Grade:. ★★★☆☆

SYNOPSIS: Based on the beloved best-selling book comes this profoundly moving story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. When her mother can no longer care for her, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is adopted by a German couple (OSCAR® Winner Geoffrey Rush [Actor, Shine (1996)] and OSCAR® Nominee Emily Watson [Actress, Breaking the Waves (1996), Hilary and Jackie (1998)]). Although she arrives illiterate, Liesel is encouraged to learn to read by her adoptive father. When the couple then takes in Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding from Hitler’s army, Liesel befriends him. Ultimately, words and imagination provide the friends with an escape from the events unfolding around them in this extraordinary, acclaimed film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

The Book Thief‘s WWII-tale is seen through the eyes of an unlikely—but completely apt—narrator: Death (voiced by Roger Allam). As Death follows young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) from 1938-43, he tells of a remarkable German girl whose unwavering humanity withstood the inhumane times, and whose strength supported many—from her foster parents, the ever-jovial Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and stern Rosa (Emily Watson), to boy-next-door Rudy (Nico Liersch) and Jewish refugee Max (Ben Schnetzer).

The Book Thief suffers no shortage of talent. In her role as heroine, Sophie Nélisse is completely enchanting. Her expressions of feeling are unaffected, and her screen presence is not diminished by any of her more experienced scene partners—such as Geoffrey Rush or Emily Watson, who both give strong performances. Nélisse and Nico Liersch wow as German tweens who, despite Hitler Youth indoctrination and sociocultural pressures, are (believably) not impressed by Hitler or his Wermacht. Their abundant talent is clear as they effortlessly and endearingly oscillate between friendship and age-appropriately adorable flirting. No doubt, we’ll be seeing a lot more of Nélisse and Liersch in the future.

the book thief
Nico Liersch, Sophie Nélisse, & Emily Watson | © 2013 20th Century Fox Film Corp.

Though mostly lacking in the grisly atrocities of other WWII stories, The Book Thief is not entirely divorced from the realities of wartime. Surprise twists and turns loom like the Sword of Damocles, delivering strangers and beloved characters alike unto peril and Death. A few laugh-out-loud-worthy moments—such as Liesel and Max parodying letters to Hitler from his mother—provide short and enjoyable reprieves from the overall tension.

Although technically a “war” movie, The Book Thief is unlike most of the genre’s films. With its unique spin on WWII and the powerful performance of Sophie Nélisse, The Book Thief makes a good movie-night-in choice for all fans of intriguing and emotional historical dramas.

the book thief

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Digital HD™
Deleted Scenes
A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief To Life
Theatrical Trailer

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Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
the book thief
the book thief


iTunes....Amazon....Google Play....VUDU....YouTube
FoxConnect....Fox Digital HD

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the book thief
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Featured Image: © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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The Author

Sarah Katz

Sarah Katz

Born-and-bred New Yorker. Lifelong film & TV lover—from chick flicks, rom-coms, rom-droms, rom-drams, and tweentertainment, to Shakespeare, period pieces, James Bond, fairy tales, and mafia movies.