OK for kids 13+
Emotional WWII drama explores loss, literacy, and love.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Book Thief is a historical drama set in WWII Germany based on the bestselling young-adult novel by Australian author Markus Zusak. There are many scenes of violence, from the way the Nazis treat Jews, to schoolyard fights, to recurring bomb threats. There are many character deaths and near-deaths that will affect even the most jaded of viewers, though there's almost no blood and zero gore. Language includes German insults that translate to "a--hole" and "dirty swine" as well as "stupid" and "idiot."
- Families can talk about the importance of literacy and books. How does learning to read change Liesel's life? Why does she "steal" books? How can books make an impact on even a horrible situation?
- What makes a movie or a book "young adult" -- the age of the protagonist, the intended audience, or something else?
- How is this movie different from others about WWII? Do you believe there were Germans who weren't fond of the Nazi regime or of Hitler's anti-semitic laws?
- In the movie, like the book, Death is the narrator, but he doesn't reveal things the same way. What did you think of the narrator in the movie? For those who've read the book, did you like and understand the changes between the page and screen versions?
The good stuff
Messages: The movie, as with the book, has positive messages about the power of literacy and books; the importance of unconditional friendship; the relationship between parents and children; and the necessity of standing up for other people in need. The presence of Death also encourages the viewer not to squander their lives, because you never know when the end will arrive.
Role models: Liesel is curious, kind, and willing to work hard to learn how to read. Liesel's foster father Hans is patient, loving, and kind. He helps out Max when it would be much easier to denounce him, and he resists getting involved with the Nazi Party, even though it's the ruling government. Rosa comes off as harsh, but she does love Hans and Liesel and shows it in her own way. Rudy Steiner defends and protects Liesel.
What to watch for
Violence: The violence ranges from the deaths of various characters to scenes of Nazis terrorizing Jews in front of their homes and businesses and other occasions. Every scene with a Nazi officer is fraught with anxiety, and the character deaths (or near deaths) will upset even adult viewers. There are also a couple of scenes of schoolyard bullying and fights. During a couple of bombing raids, the entire town evacuates and is worried, anxious and afraid. A Nazi officer strikes Liesel and then Hans.
Sex: Rudy repeatedly asks for a kiss, and by the end of the movie, when Rudy and Liesel are about 14, it's clear they have feelings for each other. One kiss.
Language: Insults are used, but sometimes as terms of endearment and usually in German, like the expletives "Saumensch" and "Saukerl" ("dirty swine"), "Arschloch" ("a--hole"). Rosa often uses insults: "good-for-nothing"; "dreckigs" ("dirty"); "know-nothing," "stupid," and "idiot."
Consumerism: One shot of an Apple computer and logo in the closing scene.
Drinking, drugs and smoking: Some adults smoke cigarettes.
Fan Reviews provided by
Loved "The Book Thief" by mwatters950
This is a wonderful movie and the performances are very memorable. John Williams' score is moving and supports the movies in a beautifully subtle way. The images and characters stayed with me for a long time. Fine for young teenagers and above but they should have knowledge of the holocaust however this is a good film to introduce them to this horrible page in human history. Definitely recommend this film!
As good as the book by weethreepigs
I have always been fascinated by the Holocaust. I read many books fact and fiction about the Holocaust. In recent years, I have turned to reading more and more books about what it might have been like for German children and Germans who didn't support the cause but were caught in a horrific moral crisis. I read The Book Thief a few years back and thought it remarkable then. Yesterday I went to see the movie. Rarely do I think a movie was as good as the book but I think this one was. The darkness, the sadness, the love, the change in people - was captured perfectly. Though I may shed a tear from time to time at a movie, I am not a movie crier. I didn't feel myself building to tears in this one. After all, I read the book. However, I found myself sobbing at the end. Highly recommend.
The Book Thief by mcollins6
Very good adaptation of the book. Unfortunately, the movie is unable to relate the book in its entirety. Fortunately, the movie was able to relate the best parts and the story line was preserved. The acting was superb. Surprisingly only one actor Geoffrey Rush was known to me. This movie is appropriate for mature children, teens on up. I believe that the book was written for teens. The only reason that young children should not see this is that the war scenes, bombing, deaths would be disturbing.
The Book Thief by number1softah
"The Book Thief" is a must see movie. This movie had some humor along with the reality and seriousness of the Holocaust. We learned of the ridicule and risks that some German families took to help hide Jewish People. Our whole family REALLY enjoyed this movie so much , we decided that we will be buying the DVD to add to our library of movies.
Don't miss "The Book Thief" by Billy58
"The Book Thief" shows what it must have been like for ordinary Germans who were not necessarily members of the party or supporters of Hitler going through WWII. It reminded me that many Germans were just average people doing their best to get through the worst of times. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson both do wonderful work in this film, as does Sophie Nelisse, who plays their daughter.