Actors: Sophie Nélisse, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson
Format: AC-3, Blu-ray, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
Language: English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Dubbed: French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Run Time: 131 minutes
For a film about the Holocaust narrated by death, The Book Thief was less depressing than I was anticipating. It is still far from being a feel-good family film, but at least manages to handle the difficult subject manner with an adequate amount of restraint. This often comes at the expense of realism, blurring the lines between true story and fantasy more than is often permitted with this material, resulting in something mostly family-friendly despite difficult content.
The film follows a young orphaned girl named Liesel (Sophie Nélisse), who is adopted by a German couple (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) during World War II. She arrives illiterate and alone, but manages to make a number of friends in the war-torn community. Liesel is also forced to face large issues involving the war when she discovers her new parents are hoping for their own country to be defeated in the battles, even hiding an injured Jewish man named Max (Ben Schnetzer) in their basement.
If The Book Thief were the only reference, it would be a safe assumption that a majority of German people were against Hitler and the Nazi-regime. Despite the secrecy of Liesel’s basement brother, it seems that most of her neighbors and classmates are sympathetic to the Jewish population being weeded out. There are exceptions, and these make for the film’s easiest one-dimensional villains. In short, I would be more likely to recommend this film to a child being introduced to the horrors of the Holocaust than I would someone who has seen any previous attempts to depict the atrocity on film.
The Blu-ray release also comes with a digital copy and a handful of special features. There are a few deleted scenes, along with a four-part making-of featurette.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 5/10
Special Features: 6.5/10