Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

Entertainment Reviews

April 22, 2014

‘Book Thief’ an underappreciated gem

DVD Review

emann@pvdemocrat.com — The atrocities and crimes committed during the Nazis’ rise to power may be one of the most documented time periods for cinema, but that does not mean that all the great stories have been told. Fiction has allowed some pretty interesting takes on this dark era, including today’s title, which offers a look we might have not thought to take into the lives of citizens under Herr Jerkenstein.

What makes this submission unique isn’t so much the removal of the horrors witnessed, but finding a way to navigate through it with curiosity and at times, a dry and clever humor. We see that none can escape meeting an end one day some way or another, all wrapped around the growth and triumph of spirit by one fascinating individual. “The Book Thief” does not try to hide the fact that it did not really happen, but allows it feel real enough and make one want to be a part of making the wrongs of the world right.

Narrated by the Angel of Death (Roger Allam), or Grim as his pals call him, the story is a clever woven tapestry of first and third person style about a young girl he becomes fascinated, Liesel Meminger (Sophie Nélisse). No longer able to be cared for by her mother (Heike Makatsch), she is taken to live with foster parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson) Hubermann.

Though our young Liesel is not really keen on doing anything except running away and convinced at first that Rosa is a very unpleasant and bitter soul, she does find kindred spirits in the form of the gentle natured Hans and a young boy in the village named Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch). She is further convinced to stay when she learns to read from a grave digging manual of all things, and cannot help but feed this new love, even if it means snagging new tales from dangerous places like a Nazi book burning. Risking everything to feed her passion, we catch glimpses of the impacts of the ever encroaching conflict of World War II and even how she deals with the treatment of Jewish people.

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