The Book Thief

31 Days of Blogging – Day 14

The Book Thief


Tonight I went to see “The Book Thief” at the cinema.  Before I say anymore about it, I have to preface it by saying that I have not read the book (shock horror) and I actually didn’t know anything about the story-line (I hadn’t read a review or even a plot synopsis).  I will try not to give anything away in what I say, but just in case, if you don’t want to know anything about it before seeing it, then you should probably stop reading.

The Book Thief is a story about a girl called Liesel who is sent to live with a foster family in 1938 Germany.  She learns to read and write and develops a deep love for books and words while the world around her deteriorates into war.  She is plagued by loss, but manages to endure and bloom in an otherwise bleak environment.

Cinematically, this movie is beautifully shot.  The scenery and camera angles are stunning and give the movie a vulnerability and softness that ease the viewer through the harsh aspects of the story.  The actress, Sophie Nélisse, is lovely to watch and Jeffery Rush is impeccable.

I came away from this movie with a lot to think about, and in some respects I am still processing what I saw.  Having not read the book, I did wonder, throughout the film, if it was missing some key elements.  At times the pace was a bit slow, but I wonder whether that was more to do with me than the film.  It is certainly not a movie that I would normally watch – I tend to avoid sad, true to life films, but having said that, I did enjoy it.  It made me think and question and wonder.

A recurring thought I had during the film was that we have not learnt from our past mistakes.  The holocaust had to be one of humanities lowest points, and yet we learnt nothing from it.  There is still persecution in the world, there is still racism and hatred.  World War II was long and bloody and a waste of life, and yet we still send our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters out to kill someone else’s sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.  There have been wars as long as there have been people and yet we still have not learnt from them, we still feel the need to flex our muscles and intimidate those smaller or weaker than us or just different from us. It is not the despots and tyrannical leaders that suffer, it is the innocents, those sent to war because they love and want to serve their country and those non-combatants that get caught in the crossfire.

I was also struck with the cruelty of humans and not just on the larger scale of world wars, but in our everyday lives.  The little things we do that show such disregard and lack of respect for another living thing.  We see atrocities committed daily- from bullying and ostracization to beatings and murder.  These things perpetrated on our fellow man simply because they do not measure up to what we believe to be the ideal or because we feel threatened and insecure.  We see ourselves as being an evolved species and yet we continue to behave worse than animals.

Wars bring destruction not only of life, but also of society.  The things we create, that make up the individuality of our lives, the history and art and beauty are lost when bombs are dropped.  I can’t bear to think of the works of art and literature that have been lost forever in the Middle East because of the wars that have been constantly fought.  The treasures lost forever all over the world because of greed and a thirst for power.  Seeing how this young girl rescues a book from a fire reminds me that there are things in this world that need to be rescued and protected and cherished.

This films begins with the concept that life is finite, we do not live forever. I think we sometimes forget how precious life is – both ours and those around us who are different.  All life is tenuous and each one of us has something to contribute to our society, we should never lose sight of that.


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