Narrated by Death (yes, I know), The Book Thief tells of young Liesel, abandoned by her mother, and adopted by the childless Hubermanns. This takes place as the Nazis rise to power and World War II causes chaos and heartache, a scenario brought home to Liesel when the Hubermanns shelter a Jewish guy called Max in their basement.
The Book Thief is evocative of a tumultuous place and time. The poverty, the book burning, the party politics, the helpless bovine collaboration of everyday Germans in ignoring the Hitler’s extremist excesses for the sake of their own survival is all presented, albeit somewhat timidly – like the filmmakers wanted to say “There were some good Germans” but actually didn’t 100% believe it. It filmed in Germany too, in the town of studio, and in the picturesque Saxony town of Gorlitz. I wonder if they only put the Nazi flags up in post? So it’s all sort of authentic (a feeling that’s somewhat nullified by the klunky German accents and the use of “Nein” throughout out). Anyway, all in all it’s worth a see, but it’s not going to blow you away. Except maybe Death’s final monologue:
I have seen a great many things. I have attended all the world’s worst disasters, and worked for the greatest of villains. And I’ve seen the greatest wonders. But it’s still like I said it was: no one lives forever. When I finally came for Liesel, I took selfish pleasure in the knowledge that she had lived her ninety years so wisely. By then, her stories had touched many souls. Some of whom I came to know in passing. Max, whose friendship lasted almost as long as Liesel. Almost. In her final thoughts, she saw the long list of lives that merged with hers. Her three children. Her grandchildren. Her husband. Among them, lit like lanterns, were Hans and Rosa, her brother, and the boy whose hair remained the color of lemons forever. I wanted to tell the book thief she was one of the few souls that made me wonder what it was to live; but in the end, there were no words. Only peace. The only truth I truly know is that I am haunted by humans.