I like the book, I wanted the movie to be the same, but it wasn’t.
While the book is much darker and more in depth, the movie seems moderated to cater to a wider audience especially the young ones.
Death’s introduction in the book, is well, very dark. “Personally I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me.”, it says. And in the movie, death’s introductory speech was voiced over serval white clouds! Who would have thought? I mean which grim reaper would introduce themselves with a visual of clouds? Stormy ones maybe but not those white clouds. Only angels, cupids or babies can I associate them with white clouds. The mood at the start is so wrong. Then again, it seems reasonable from a film perspective. The next scene is a white snow landscape to illustrate the death of Liesel’s brother, in accord with the book. Okay, point half forgiven.
The death of Liesel’s brother left a very deep mark in me. It was an experience that shape the Liesel we knew in the book or the movie. I wished it was touched on a little bit longer than what it had in the movie.
In the book it writes, “Liesel was sure her mother carried the memory of him… She dropped him. She saw his feet and legs and body slap the platform
How could that woman walk?
How could she move?”
I imagined myself in young Liesel’s shoes, incredibly helpless, walking by her mother while she held him. Young Liesel wanted to hug her mother and cry, she lost her little brother, but her mother isn’t holding it any better either. Young Liesel had to be strong, silent, maybe bury some feelings and let them die inside. She had to grow up too quickly.
I wanted to see this, but it might be too heavy for the younger audience I think or this isn’t what Zusak and Percival had in mind.
Fortunately, at the scene where Hans asked Liesel about the origin of the book and expressed how desperately she wants to read it with tears lingering her bright blue eyes. I cried.
They are many parts I wished they never change or cropped.
Liesel in the movie is all angelic and all good. She didn’t scold Frau Herman, and she never stole apples. The little thief gang of hers never appeared. Bad influence for kids, I guess. Liesel and Rudy’s interaction with other kids are mainly focused on Deutscher’s bullying. Without all the thieving and the brief mention that she is always borrowing books to read to Max, she isn’t the sneaky little book thief I had in mind but a mere book borrower. Character development for Liesel seemed lacking and incomplete. (*inputs sad face. :(*)
The little champagne secret between Hans and Liesel. It is very trivial in a sense, but it showed Liesel’s deep admiration for Hans. How he would help his neighbour for almost nothing and wanted Liesel to experience something special. When Zusak wrote ” when she wrote about her life, Liesel vowed that she would never drink champagne again, for it would never taste as good as it did on that warm afternoon in July.” It gave a warm fuzzy feeling inside me.
In the book, Max and Rudy had a bit of a fighter in them. Rudy ran as best as he could. Max did push ups and fought with the Hitler in his dreams. The main point is that, Max is always so rugged. He even breathes without a sound. However, Most of the time he is sick in bed but has neat hair and short facial hair throughout his refugee with the Hubermanns. Even Liesel’s hair got longer!
The biggest disappointment came when Hans never gave any bread to any Jew who was marching towards a concentration camp. While the story still flows well anyway with Hans standing up for one of his Jewish neighbour but that scene is very important in the creation of the book. Zusak wrote the Book Thief because of the stories he heard from his parents after the war. One of which is a boy giving bread to a Jewish prisoner. “On one hand you have pure beauty which is the boy giving the bread and on the other you’d got pure destruction which is the soldier doing what he did and you put those two things together and you got humans and what we are capable of.” That’s what Zusak said during one of the book interview. I would hope that they could at least recreate this one important scene.
Other than that, I wished I saw the Word Shaker and Liesel’s little gifts for Max.
On the better side, I liked everything else that was screened. The acting is marvellous, a great deal had been covered for a two hour movie and it was decent. I simply loved the snowman in the basement scene. It is the happiest scene there is. Sophie Nelisse’s big blue eyes and bright blonde hair made Liesel such a lovable and adorable character. One better part of the movie would be that the ending felt more complete than what I read in the book. And the reason for not scolding Frau Hermann is justified in the end as well, so that it is easier to transit into the next phase in which the Hermann family adopts Liesel is much more easier to accept.
In short, the movie is decent but I would recommend to the book over the movie any time.