A more apt title for The Book Thief would have been ‘Shamelessly Seeking Oscar”. The Book Thief isn’t a terrible movie. It just doesn’t measure up when you consider past holocaust based movies like Schindler’s List and The Pianist.
The Book Thief was based on a bestselling book that I hope was much better than the movie. Leisel, a spirited young girl, is sent to live with a foster family in Germany during World War II. Leisel begins collecting books as she finds them, helping to inspire everyone during the holocaust period.
The biggest problem with this movie is that it pays no attention to the horrors in Nazi Germany. Instead, this movie could have been set in almost any time period at all, making most viewers wonder why it was even necessary to mention the time and place.
The message of the movie is clear; kindness can happen anywhere. It’s a sweet message, but there is no contrast to base it on.
In Schindler’s List, the horrors of the holocaust were not sugar coated, but at the same time, we saw the redemption of a selfish man, who sacrificed himself for others. In The Pianist, we saw a man who found peace through music. In The Book Thief, the holocaust is sugar coated and hidden. We watch a girl learn how to read. We watch people be nice to her. [more…]
It’s a sweet movie but it is set in the wrong time period. Honestly, I think if you are not ready to confront the true horrors of the holocaust including the widespread disease, genocides, deaths, economic collapse and all the other dangers of the day, then you shouldn’t be writing about it.
One of the major parts of the film was a hidden Jew refuge named Max. Even hiding this boy gave no sense of real danger, which is not realistic to the time period at all. Holocaust era Germany was a horrible time and most neighbors would not turn a blind eye when everyone knew that a fugitive Jew was being hidden.
The acting wasn’t bad. Sophie Nelisse plays Leisel very well and I imagine that this is a talent we will be seeing a lot more from. The settings were done well; thought the lack of actual obvious war wasn’t very convincing.
The Book Thief was an obvious Oscar grab, and it might have stood a chance if the story had a bit more bite, and if they weren’t up against movies like 12 Years a Slave. However, when it comes to the Holocaust, you just can’t sugar coat it. The Book Thief doesn’t just sugar coat it. They hide it, and then dump a ton of powdered sugar on top. To be honest, this is the first holocaust movie I have ever seen that I would consider safe for children.
The Book Thief is a sweet story, with a sweet message. Unfortunately, sweet stories with sweet messages don’t play well in a holocaust time period.
You can watch the trailer below!