The Book Thief (12 A)
by Brian Percival
Starring Sophie Nelisse, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Ben Snetzer, Nico
Liersh, Roger Allan
From 3rd March 2014
It Couldn't Happen Again, Could It?
Mid-1930s Germany and it's not the place to be if you are Jewish, a communist
or have the wrong complexion. Hitler has the Nazis in full flow and the
last thing they want is Jesse Owens leaving everyone for dead in the 1936
Berlin Olympics.The Grim Reaper himself, (Allan) is on hand to narrate,
at nauseating length, about his own next conquests.
Nine-year-old Liesel Meninger (Nelisse) is being transported across country
by train and on the way loses both mother and younger brother forever,
before arriving to become the proxy child of, (more grandparents than
parents), Hans (Rush) and Rosa Hubermann (Watson). Naturally she is reticent
to fully partake of her new role but papa takes to her more sympathetically
than mama and starts teaching her to read. In class she befriends blond
haired, blue-eyed Rudi( Liersh) and as Kristallnacht breaks out both are
singing in full Nazi insignia in the full school choir.
An old promise is called in when on the run Max (Snetzer) turns up in
the middle of the night - a jew needing shelter, which is duly provided
in the cellar. Meanwhile Liesel rescues H G Wells' 'The Invisible Man'
from a stage managed degenerate book burning. Rudi is castigated for painting
his face black when emulating his hero; being young and naive is out in
War is declared and as British bombers stage night raids reclusive Max
is left alone above ground to enjoy the night sky as the net tightens
on the wrong people in town. Liesel's role as the book thief is enhanced
when she is sent to the Landburgher's house with some ironing and she
sees a way to be kept in books and of keeping Max alive.
Meanwhile Death keeps toting up his numbers as the War is lived out in
a frenzy of killing, puppy love intrigues and eventual realisation that
Max must leave to save his minders. One night the sirens do not sound
and the air raid shelter is empty and off- target bombs decimate most
of the cast in their beds.
Who will survive?
Director Percival's 131 minute screenplay is ultimately too long, despite
being nice on the eye and John Williams' understated score added to the
sense of something lacking. As always Death won the day.