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The Book Thief


Latest Home Video

Mar 11, 2014

MPAA Rating:


Run Time:



Brian Percival


Geoffrey Rush

Emily Watson

Sophie Nélisse

Ben Schnetzer


2013 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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Still shot from the movie: The Book Thief.

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Reviewed by

Overall B+
Run Time131

Making the Grades

The Book Thief is told from two perspectives—that of Death and a young German girl named Liesel Meminger. In this pre-WWII Germany setting, the Führer is rising to power, inciting the nation to war and beginning his ethnic cleansing. Death knows what is coming; Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) does not.

But by the time Liesel arrives at the home of her foster parents on Heaven Street she’s already been through hell. She watched as her younger brother died in her mother’s arms and was buried in a shallow, frozen grave. Then she was unceremoniously left at the home of Rosa and Hans Hubermann (Emily Watson and Geoffrey Rush), never to see her mother (Heike Matatsch) again.

The only reason given for Liesel’s placement is a whispered rumor that her mother is a Communist, a dirty slur in Hitler’s Germany. The youngster is understandably withdrawn when she arrives. And Rosa, a sturdy, ill-tempered woman can’t be bothered with the girl’s timidity. However Hans takes a gentler approach, kindly welcoming the frightened child into their home and building a bond between the two of them.

A short time later, the Hubermanns open their door to another refugee. Max Vandenburg (Ben Schnetzer) is a young Jewish man on the run. His father saved Hans’ life during WWI and now the boy is seeking protection from the family. Knowing the risk they are taking, Hans and Rosa hide Max in their dark basement and swear Liesel to absolute secrecy.

Liesel takes comfort in her new family. As well she is befriended by Rudy Steiner (Nico Liersch), a blond-headed boy from next door, who idolizes runner Jesse Owens and is always asking for a kiss. But after Hans teaches her to read, she finds solace and power in words. Unfortunately, as the title suggests, Liesel doesn’t come by most of her books honestly. Nor does she suffer any consequences for her thievery. One of her favorite places to “borrow” from is the home library of the Mayor’s wife, Ilsa Hermann (Barbara Auer).

While many other films relate the events of WWII, this one is unusual because it tells the story from the eyes of a German child, not the Jewish refugee, the soldiers or the advancing Allies. Compared to those other movies, The Book Thief is also a sanitized script with only brief depictions of war actions, the beating of Jews, vandalism and some schoolyard bullying that leads to a fistfight. Even corpses pulled from bombed buildings look more like peacefully sleeping bodies than victims of violence. And the script contains only a handful of profanities along with Rosa’s derogatory nickname for Liesel.

The film does provide a sense of everyday life for many Germans during Hitler’s reign—those who supported him and those who had to hold their tongues. And, unlike graphic war films, The Book Thief is one that parents can quite comfortably share and discuss with their tweens and teens.


Discussion Ideas After The Movie

Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Book Thief.

In this story many of the characters have to make difficult without knowing what the outcome will be. What effect does Hans refusal to join The Party later have on him? Why do people choose not to express their real feelings or thoughts? Why does Rudy’s father tell him to stop idolizing Owens? What ideas and groups did Hitler want to cleanse from Germany?

Why does Hans tell Liesel that a person is only as good as their word?

What sacrifices do Rosa and Hans make for others? Despite her abrasive exterior, how does Rosa show affection? How does Hans exhibit his own humanity? How does Liesel emulate her father’s concern for others? What does she do in the bomb shelter to help calm others?

This movie is based on The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak.

Trailers & Clips

Canadian Movie Ratings

PG Violence.
MB PG Violence, Mature Theme.
ON PG Mature Theme

Canadian Home Video Rating: PG

Watch @ Home

Details on home video releases of The Book Thief...

Home Video Notes: The Book Thief

Release Date: 11 March 2014

The Book Thief releases to home video (Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy) with the following extras:

- Deleted Scenes

- A Hidden Truth: Bringing The Book

- Thief to Life

- Original Theatrical Trailer

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jpjmc says: Nov. 05, 2013

This movie is fantastic. I was able to go to a preview last week with my family. (11 & 13 yr old girls) It is very sad in parts. There is no sex/drugs. A little alcohol. Some violence but not much. It is a beautifully done film. The cast is amazing in their roles. Definitely a must see.

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