Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Book Thief


First, let’s get to the one thing I really didn’t like about this film. It is narrated by Death. Yeah, you know the dude, dressed all in black with a big scythe over his shoulder (though I’ve heard he has recently been seen operating a combine harvester). We were about halfway through before I was sure that’s who it was; before that I was wondering when we would see the character of the narrator. We never do. I thought it was pretentious and unnecessary.

Other than that, it’s a pretty good story. Young Leisel (Sophie Nélisse) arrives in a German town in 1938, illiterate, having just been wrenched away from her mother, who may or may not have been a communist. She is placed with an older couple, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. She is a hard-nosed old scold, though she turns out to have a good heart. He is amiable and loveable. He teaches her to read, and she becomes such a devoted learner that she filches a still-smoldering book that escaped a Nazi book burning. The family shelters a young Jewish man, until it becomes too dangerous and he chooses to leave rather than subject them to any more danger. After that there are few surprises, though the ending is pretty horrible. The war becomes a bigger and bigger factor in their lives, and that’s all I should say about it. It’s worth seeing, but maybe not quite as good as I had hoped for.