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The Book Thief

Courage beyond words 

Year: 2013 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 12A Cert – Under 12s admitted only with an adult 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Brian Percival 
Starring: Sophie Nélisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson  
An image from The Book Thief

Based on Markus Zusak’s bestselling novel, The Book Thief is the moving story of a young girl named Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and her life in Nazi Germany during the wake of the Second World War. The film begins with Liesel’s entrance into her new home with Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa Hubermann (Emily Watson) foster parents. However, on the way there Liesel’s younger brother tragically died, leaving Liesel feeling alone and abandoned in this desolate place ironically named ‘Heaven Street’. It was during the burial of her brother that Liesel steals her first book despite the fact that she is illiterate; thus this book becomes the stepping stone from her old life to her new one as Hans teaches her how to read.

To begin with, the story is a simple Bildungsroman of Liesel’s life such as the love-hate relationship between Liesel and the arrogant Ruddy and their childhood adventures together, her daily scolding from Rosa or her night-school lessons with Hans in their dreary basement. However, soon the threat of war soon becomes a terrifying reality changing Liesel’s world into one of fear, danger and oppression; this is epitomised in Hans’s decision to shelter a Jew named Max (Ben Schnetzer) in his basement. A deep friendship begins to grow between Liesel and Max as they bond over their love of books which Liesel continues to steal- even from the bonfires which dominated landscape.

Narrated by Death, the film beautifully interweaves the themes of love, childhood and war into a moving and tragic tale which won’t fail to bring you to tears. Accompanied by John Williams’s music score, this film is a definite must-see!

Lauren Howard

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Summer Term (35mm)