The Book Thief in its original book form, was released in 2005 and from 2006 onwards won a number of publishing awards, found a place on several bestsellers lists, and has now sold over 1.5 million copies. So it comes as no surprise that somewhere within the Hollywood machine, plans were made for an adaptation. The film shares the same title and is due for release at the end of January.
The first teasers and clips are just making it online, giving an indication of how the film has been adapted. The most immediately striking feature of the clips released, is that they lack the books most defining feature – the use of Death as a narrator. However, the cast list credits Roger Allam as the voice of Death, so I can only assume that they’ve keep this key feature, and somehow not found it worthy of including in the film’s publicity materials. A strange choice given that this is such a defining feature of the original material.
The book itself is fascinating, exploring life in Nazi Germany with particular focus on the persecution of the Jewish population, and the plethora of book burnings within those years. Liesel, the titular book thief, acts as the key to exploring the plots vast and difficult issues on a very personal and emotive level. It’s a fairly long book held together by the combined voices of Death and a child – making it a very unusual read.
…seem saccharine sweet and disingenuous…
From a first look at the trailers, the film looks to be full of sweeping shots and stunningly expensive sets and locations, but perhaps lacking the soul of the book. The book has several key moments of joy among the stark backdrop of war – the trailers feature a couple of these moments, which viewed out of context with other events, seem saccharine sweet and disingenuous, but hopefully are more powerful when viewed as a part of the whole. Watching the major actors speak in strangely affected German-English accents it seems the film has made a big budget blockbuster, of an independent original. However knowing that there’s a credited Death/Narrator, and having seen other films created by the same studio, perhaps this is one of those times when the trailer doesn’t give the truest impression of the film.
Certainly that’s my hope – the book is such a great story to be adapting, it would be tragic to see it broken down to fit the mould of a Hollywood standard.