movie review: the book thief

The Book Thief reveals first poster... my favourite book will soon become my favourite movie.

I have mixed feelings about this film. On one hand, it was brilliantly cast, had beautiful music, and was an overall gorgeous film to look at. On the other, it was definitely not the best book-to-film adaption I have ever seen. Probably one of the worse ones, to be honest. For some books, that might not have affected the film that much, but it drastically changed how much I enjoyed this movie. I think the main reason was that the film didn’t capture the spirit of the book. I have no tangible proof of this (no scenes from the book come to mind that I can firmly say “This is what made the movie so much not like the book”) but I can feel it. Some book-to-film adaptions don’t exactly follow the book, but they have the same feel as the book (I know I’m getting philosophical with this, but I’m sure you know what I mean). My favorite examples of this are Pride & Prejudice (2005) and The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982). There were several quotes/scenes I was really eager to see on-screen and they were cut (too many quotes to name in here, and several important scenes were messed up chronologically or cut altogether…don’t get me started on that). I guess I loved the book so much, and was so hyped up about the movie, that when it actually came and it wasn’t exactly like the book, I was disappointed.

But know that I’ve gotten the Disagreeable part out of the way, let me talk about what I loved. There was quite a lot, like I said in the last paragraph – cast, music, and cinematography. Although I think I just shattered one of my own pet sayings…that the music and characters really make the movie. Because even though the cast/music was pretty much perfect, I still didn’t-anyway. I don’t want to be going in circles with this. Firstly – the cast: Just…wow. Amazing. Admittedly, I watched the trailer before I read the book, so I had all the character’s images firmly embedded into my head (so, for the first time in forever, the cast perfectly matched the image in my head of the characters). But it wasn’t just the way they looked. The acting was top-notch. I usually find children actors/actresses to be incredibly annoying in films, but Rudy and Liesel were portrayed perfectly. I have absolutely no complaint about either of their performances, except in the post-bombing scene. And that was mostly Rudy (and even then it was mostly the fault of the scriptwriters – having Rudy still alive was just wrong. It felt wrong and it was acted wrong). Rosa, Hans, and Max were amazing as well. I couldn’t be happier with how Hans was played by Geoffrey Rush. He did more than justice to my favorite character.

This film. Is so gorgeous.

Not just the long shots, the close ones as well. Every angle, every frame is composed so well. I guess it’s like the words in the book itself. Perfect and beautiful and meant to be savoured. Which is why I can’t wait for someone to take a bunch of screencaps and post them online. And the music…when I listened to the soundtrack the first couple of times before I watched the film, I didn’t think it was anything that special, but after a few days of playing it on repeat while I wrote changed my mind quite a bit. It fits the book’s mood perfectly. If the rest of the film had followed suit, I would have no complaints. Let me direct you to the soundtrack suite. It combines the best pieces beautifully.

A few random things I loved:

~The snowball fight in the basesment
~”Is that your book?” “It wasn’t always mine.”
~Liesel running her fingers along the spines of the books in the mayor’s library (straight out of the book!)
~”All those blank pages…they’re for you to fill.”
~Max and Liesel mocking Hitler
~The montage of Rudy and Jesse Owens
~How little changes in Liesel’s hair/clothing made her look older

Overall, it wasn’t the best of movies, but it wasn’t the worst of movies either.

If you’re a fan of the book, I’d watch with the knowledge that it doesn’t quite do the book justice. If you haven’t read the book, this is a fantastic WWII movie. But, in a way, I really think you should read the book first. You’ll know so much more about the characters and plot and just general…stuff. It will definitely enrich your viewing experience. But then you might be disappointed in the book-to-film adaption and-

I give up. Just watch it.

Eva

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