Yesterday my neighbor and I went to see the early bird show of The Book Thief for the bargain price of $1.25. The reviews had been lukewarm, but a friend had recommended it and Joan hadn’t seen a movie in a long time—about 10 years.
As we walked down the dark hall to the theater (something like 12 theaters) we saw a man on the floor by the door, and my first thought was he was fixing something, then we both realized he had fallen and couldn’t get up—he was quite heavy. So Joan took one arm and I took the other, and by using the wall we got him up. He insisted he was ok, so we went in. Before the movie started I could see him in his seat, because if I didn’t see him I was going to go back out. As we left the theater when the film was over we stopped by his seat and asked if he was OK. He and his wife both thanked us.
It is not a happy story, but has tender moments and some humor to break the tension. Based on a best seller by the same title, it takes place between 1938 and 1945 in Nazi Germany. Liesel, played by the beautiful and talented Sophie Nelisse, is taken from her mother, a Communist, and given to a German couple as a foster/adopted child. Her brother died on the trip to the children’s new family and she keeps his photograph and the memory of her mother. Her new parents, Hans and Rosa, are played very effectively by Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson. The boy next door, Rudy (Nico Liersch) becomes her friend and protector. Liesel does not know how to read although she is an adolescent, but has one book which she and her Poppa work through until she understands the words. He begins a huge dictionary for her on the walls of the basement. Hans has an accordion with which he entertains the little family which belonged to a friend who saved his life in WWI, and that man’s son, Max, comes to the house to find safety. He is a Jew. Hans, Rosa and Liesel hide him in the basement and nurse him to health. Max and Liesel become friends and he makes a book for her. . . a diary. Meanwhile Liesel is befriended by the wife of the wealthy Buergmeister who has a huge library whose son died in WWI.
And that’s all I’ll say about this movie, except it is about love, hope, courage, family, forgiveness, redemption, friendship, and of course, the love of books. Many moral and spiritual values, but not in an overtly religious sense. We liked it a lot.