“The Book Thief” Will Steal Your Heart

Movie Adaptation of Popular Book Succeeds

Opening November 22 in Atlanta, director Brian Percival presents a film that is sure to capture the heart of any audience this Thanksgiving season. Despite the film’s distressing setting in Nazi Germany, the film is life affirming, with deep moral lessons. “The Book Thief” follows precocious Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and her adoption into the home of an elderly German couple, Hans (Geoffery Rush) and Rosa (Emma Watson).

After her mother is accused of being a Communist, Liesel is sent to foster care, where she learns to read under the patient instruction of Hans. In addition to Liesel, the family also shelters a Jewish refugee, Max (Ben Schnetzer), under their stairs, who Liesel befriends instantly. Liesel develops an insatiable desire to read, leading her to “borrow” books (hence the title).

Percival, Nelisse, and Zusak recently traveled to Atlanta for a press tour.

The film adaptation of Markus Zusak’s novel,  “The Book Thief” is narrated by the voice of death (Roger Allam). While the book has frequent narrations by death, Percival chose to minimize death’s voice, and to instead show a shot of the silhouette of death.  A choice, Percival says, that was based on truly experiencing the film, “Well, because he narrates the whole book, I didn’t want to have the whole film about it. One of my goals was to show and not tell. It is much more interesting to be involved with the character and to see him, rather than just hearing his voice every two or three minutes…You want to experience the story firsthand.”

Nelisse, though only 13, says, “I hope that people, when they see the movie, will go pick up a book and see the world in a different way. And I hope that they will go and learn about the Holocaust, to understand what happened. “

Despite being narrated by death, the film avoids any fantastical leanings, with Percival’s intentional effort to focus on realism, “I felt that my heart was with those characters and that if it felt more real, I’d believe in it more, “ Percival said, “I’d believe that it could have happened.”

Prior to the film, “The Book Thief” won the Kirkus Reviews Editor Choice Award, Daniel Elliott Peace Award, Booklist Children Editors’ Choice, and the Book Sense Book of the Year, among others honors.

Author Zusak comments on what he wants the audience to take away from the film, “I just want the audience to make up their minds. That’s what the people in the story do. And so I love the idea that you can leave a book and leave a film walking out and you start to feel in the pages, when you start to feel in the scenes.”

Percival follows Zusak remarking, “I really suppose the thought that life really is quite precious, and the people around you matter a great deal, and that it is up to you to make the most of it. “


(North Atlanta senior, Sarah Evans, had the opportunity to interview Zusak at a book signing in Dunwoody, GA. Her interview is above.)