Still on the New York Times’ Bestseller List after its release in 2005, The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, may now be on its way to securing an Oscar nomination! As with any international bestseller, Hollywood wasted no time putting this remarkable story on film.
Set in a small German town during WWII, the story follows Liesel Meminger, an illiterate foster child who is taken in by a couple, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann. Quickly, Hans teaches Liesel to read and her obsession with books begins. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the start of WWII, however, books become a luxury; most are burned to prevent “subversive thinking”. Liesel’s only recourse is to begin stealing whatever books she can find. But will this dangerous practice end up getting her into serious trouble?
Another danger comes knocking at the Hubermann’s door, only this time it’s in the form of Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jewish refugee who is begging the family for sanctuary. The Hubermanns know how dangerous it is to conceal a Jew, however, they owe Max’s dad a favor and agree to keep him hidden. Now the couple must trust Liesel to keep their guest a secret, all while the family stays out of the suspicious gaze of Nazi Party officials.
What I enjoyed most about this heart-wrenching film is that instead of focusing on typical WWII imagery, it focuses on the lives of everyday German citizens and how the war affected them. Sometimes we forget that not every German supported the Nazi Party and its ideology, and it is nice to read a book/see a film that shows the other side of the story. It’s easy to see why this story has been so popular ever since it was first published in 2005.
The acting in the film is some of the best this year. Sophie Nélisse is not only able to hold her own against Academy Award Winner Geoffrey Rush and Academy Award Nominee Emily Watson, but is able to carry the entire movie on her shoulders; a feat not easily accomplished by any actor, much less a twelve-year old girl. She is so mature for her age (and extremely talented) and I can’t wait to see her career progress. Geoffrey Rush, in one of the best roles of his career, is equally amazing. Although Rush’s characters are normally wonderfully eccentric, he proves just how wide his range is with his restrained performance in this film. Instead of being over-the-top, Rush’s character Hans exemplifies the incredible warmth and strength of the human spirit.
The Book Thief hits theaters Friday and Cloture Club (along with John Nolan “Punch Drunk Critics” and Leslie Combemale “The Movie Siren”) got the chance to conduct a roundtable interview with the actors Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech) and Sophie Nélisse (Monsieur Lazhar), director Brian Percival (Downton Abbey), and the book’s author Markus Zusak, to discuss important books in their lives, the songs chosen for the movie, the focus on color in the book and film, and much more! I was incredibly excited (and nervous) to talk to such talented individuals; the four were incredibly warm, easy to talk to and were just as excited to talk about their fantastic movie as we were!
Check out the audio below and don’t miss seeing The Book Thief this weekend! It is one of the best films this year and is certainly one you will need to keep in mind for your Oscar ballot!