When Liesel’s mother could no longer take care of her and her brother, Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) is taken across the country to live with her new adoptive parents, Hans (Geoffrey Rush) and Rosa (Emily Watson). Liesel and Hans quickly earn each other’s trust and being to learn reading together. As time goes by, Liesel begins to make friends and “borrow” books to read to Max, a Jew who is hiding in the basement from the Nazis. As time goes by Max’s health begins to get worst putting the whole family in danger of being discovered.
Under different circumstances or perhaps a much weaker Oscar nominated films, one could easily make a case for The Book Thief to win an award. After all, the solid performances of its cast and the well written story deserve some recognition. But luck wasn’t on the filmmakers’ side because the movie brass in this year’s Academy Award season was top notch.
The Book Thief was adapted from the literary work of Markus Zusak by the same name. With a peculiar twist, The Book Thief is narrated by Death, which in essence brings a very interesting perspective with almost poetic feel every time narrative starts. The story is set in Nazi Germany during the escalation of World War II, for what it is worth, the set design is excellent and some of the cinematography was great, a few panned out shots really capture the surroundings quite well. However, while some may call the film soft on the Nazi Germany subject, the film is not meant to be focus on the war and the atrocities that occurred during the time in which The Book Thief is set. The Book Thief was solely focusing on the 10 year old child, a child that didn’t quite comprehend what was happening in the real world around her.
The Book Thief was very well written and directed for that matter. The characters were really fleshed out, specifically Liesel and Hans, played by Sophie Nélisse and Geoffrey Rush. The two of them develop a very good relationship from the beginning and it’s not hard to feel their hardship towards the end and it’s easy to build sympathy for them. The supporting roles of Rudy and Max were crucial to how the story will evolve. The relationship Liesel builds with both of these characters builds up a greater impact at the end, but my biggest problem here is that it wasn’t completely heartfelt, at least with Rudy, the impact wasn’t completely there. Which was somewhat of a disappointment. But this slight con is not really detrimental to the overall quality of the film.
The Book Thief arrives on Blu-ray with a very nice 1080p MPEG4-AVC encode with an aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The picture has a very natural look and only changes as the environment and with weather changes go through the film. Colors are very natural and look very much alive, especially during the a few scenes through the movie. Colors like red really stand out. Black colors are deep and inky, but I didn’t detect any crushing. The details on the picture are fantastic, there are ample details on the surroundings, the garments, close up shots are revealing, and more. The skin tones are natural and lifelike. I suppose the biggest issue I found was subtitles being placed inside a gray box, I am not sure why they didn’t just place the subtitles without a colored box. Other than that, The Book Thief looks great on Blu-ray.
The Book Thief arrives on Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track. The film is dialogue heavy, but a few scenes show what the track is capable of delivering. The dialogue is clear and prioritized throughout the film. There’s very good directionality in the fronts. The rears always provide good support with ambience and other effects. The track is very spacious that it allows the soundtrack to flow through the speakers without a hitch. The bass is very subtle, but a few scenes that feature bombings really makes the floor rumble. The track is better than I expected.
A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book Thief to Life – this featurette is split into 4 segments: An Inspirational Story (5:00); Finding the Thief and Her Family (9:38); Bringing the Past to Life (10:21); The Legend and the Music (6:22).
Deleted Scenes – there are a total of 4 deleted scenes.
With fantastic performances from Sophie Nelisse and Geoffrey Rush The Book Thief delivered a touching story. Following a 10 year old as she grows in Nazi Germany, the story tells a very human and emotional story. The Blu-ray does a good service to the story with the picture that looks and sounds great. The supplements aren’t many, but there are a few with excellent quality. To be honest, I expected less from The Book Thief, but surprisingly it turned out to be a touching story that everyone can appreciate.