Last fall I had great good fortune to be included in a conference-call interview with author Markus Zusak. At that time, the movie The Book Thief, based on his wonderful novel, had not yet been released in theaters. I was most interested in how Zusak thought his book, which was extremely visual and solidly based on the power of words, would translate to the screen.
Zusak reassured us that the film would have "the same heart" as his book and that the story would still be "all about the words." Now that I've finally had to chance to view the movie, I can say that he was right. The film, although different from the novel, carried the author's important messages.
For those who don't know the story of The Book Thief, here is the summary of the movie from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment:
Based on the beloved best-selling book comes this profoundly moving story of a girl who transforms the lives of those around her during World War II, Germany. Although Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is illiterate when she is adopted by a German couple (OSCAR® Winner Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson), her adoptive father encourages her to learn to read. Ultimately, the power of words helps Liesel and Max (Ben Schnetzer), a Jew hiding in the family’s home, escape from the events unfolding around them in this extraordinary, acclaimed film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).I thought The Book Thief was both beautifully filmed and brilliantly acted. Although Nélisse and Nico Liersch (who plays Liesel's friend Rudy) are a joy to watch, I was particularly impressed with Rush and Watson, who were able to capture their characters' complex personalities and the very different ways they coped with living in Nazi Germany. Best of all, the film indeed manages to capture the amazing power of words and stories.
Don't fret if you missed the movie when it was in theaters because the Blu-Ray edition of The Book Thief was released this week. Beside a code to let you watch the movie on multiple devices, the disc comes with two terrific features you won't want to miss. I especially liked "A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief to Life." This short documentary includes interviews, a look at the costuming and set design, information about the music, and more. The other feature consists of deleted scenes, which were interesting to see.
After you watch the movie, I know you'll want to talk about The Book Thief. To get you started, take a look at the fourteen questions on the following book-to-film discussion guide. Feel free to save, copy, and/or print it out for your own use. (Click on the image to see the pages full size).
Giveaway: Thanks to Think Jam and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, I can offer one of my readers--with a USA mailing address--a prize pack consisting of a copy of the Blu-Ray edition of The Book Thief and a copy of the book. To enter for a chance to win just fill out the following form. I'll pick a winner via a random number generator on March 24. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll pass his or her address along to Think Jam, who will mail out the Blu-Ray and book. Good luck!