The Book Thief Blu-Ray Review
I’m not sure if I can refer to THE BOOK THIEF as a war movie or a Holocaust movie. It touches on both of them, but in such a brief way, they feel more like talking points. Like many movies before it, THE BOOK THIEF uses World War II as a backdrop for the growth of our characters. It spins yet another story of how one group of people persevered through these rough times. Even though this movie avoids some very tough questions, it’s still a very thoughtful and touching movie to watch.
Liesel Meminger (Nelisse) is being transported to her new foster parents because her mother can no longer keep her. Liesel’s mom is in danger because she’s a suspected communist in 1938. One of those on the long list of Nazi targets. She leaves Liesel in the company of Hans (Rush) and Rosa (Watson). A married couple who appear to be teetering into the age where they’re too old to believably have children. Hans, as well as Liesel’s classmates, quickly find out that she can’t read or write. Despite being the laughing stock of the classroom, she earns the respect and admiration of a boy named Ruby (Nico Liersch). Although that’s not hard to get when you pummel your tormentors in the schoolyard. She quickly begins to learn how to read and write, with the help of Hans. Like any child, she’s excited and fascinated by her new talents.
Despite her new surroundings and new beginnings, this isn’t where she begins to feel alive. She truly takes ahold of life at a book burning. People are gleefully carrying torches to the town center, ready to pitch in the literature they’ve deemed filthy. While others have tears welling up in their eyes from national pride, Liesel’s begin to form when she realizes that her newfound insightfulness is going up in flames. When the crowds have left, she sits by the smoldering ashes and in that instant, her new knowledge has afforded her the ability to rebel. She quickly picks up a smoky book from the pile and doesn’t stop reading and writing for the rest of the movie.
At times it’s very charming and light hearted. It’s almost too good at it because by the time we need that realistic bite of emotional pain, the sting isn’t there. That’s not to say there’s isn’t some incredibly beautiful moments. Everything comes together at times in a very gorgeous symphony, but the crucial scenes don’t feel tragic enough. If there’s anything this movie is extraordinary at, it’s the acting. The acting is spotless and there’s barely a blemish in the cast. Usually you can look towards the child actors as being the weak link in the chain, but they’re fantastic. A great job to whoever cast Sophie Nelisse as Liesel. As for Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, they couldn’t be any better.
I have to mention though…halfway through we’re introduced to Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jewish refugee who begins living in the basement of our character’s homes. His presence adds more to the concept that this movie is about love and loss. While there will be the inevitable heartbreak, we learn that there are some things we can’t lose. We can never lose our ability for passion, intelligence and our consistent pursuit of both of those. Nor can we be stopped in sharing those ideas and feelings. If anything, our tragedies make us stronger. THE BOOK THIEF may not have knocked it out of the park, but it was an experience I was glad to be a part of.
THE BOOK THIEF BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (Widescreen 2:40:1) THE BOOK THIEF is a gorgeously pale movie. The video transfer allows for us to experience the beauty of winter, but at the same time showcases the beautifully bleak world they’re in. A crystal clear presentation of a gritty past..
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio mixing is well done for THE BOOK THIEF. My only complaint would be that whispers are sometimes barely heard. Otherwise, no problems.
Deleted Scenes (6:34): There are four deleted scenes that you’re able to play individually or all at the same time. The only one of interest is Hans being given a copy of Mein Kampf as he waits outside Liesel’s school. The others feel like unnecessary filler.
A Hidden Truth: Bringing the Book Thief to Life (31:05): This is a feature that’s segmented into four parts: An Inspirational History, Finding the Thief and Her Family, Bring the Past to Life and The Legend and the Music. You can watch all in one block or watch them separately. It’s best you watch it as a whole because it has more of a flow. Detailed is what you would usually anticipate from a behind the scenes look, but I really enjoyed watching John Williams compose the score and even Sophie’s audition tape, that would eventually land her the role.