"The Book Thief": Movie and Book Comparison
The Book Thief, written by Markus Zusak, is eerily narrated by Death about a 9-year-old German girl named Liesel who is given up by her mother to Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Liesel becomes fond of Hans from the start because he is gentle and kind, unlike his wife Rosa. Before Liesel is taken to her new home, her brother dies on the way there. While he is buried, she finds a book next to his grave and starts to take an interest. While she is living in Molching, she meets her new best friend Rudy Steiner who eventually falls in love with her. They both get interested in stealing, Liesel steals books, sharing her love of literature with a Jew that her family is hiding in their basement named Max Vandenburg. In the end, Liesel discovers that she hates Hitler because he is the reason for the war and the Holocaust. In this essay, we will compare movies and books.
In my opinion, The Book Thief was fantastic. It was engaging and fast-paced which kept me intrigued throughout the novel after finishing the book I was excited to watch the movie which was directed by Brian Percival. Unfortunately, as most movie productions do, the movie did not fully capture the entire storyline of the actual book.
Within the book, we see much more of Max’s past, and his present. He talks about his dreams of boxing Hitler, develops an exercise regimen to occupy his time in the Hubermann’s basement, and, after discovering Liesel’s love for the written word, creates two books of his own to give her. It is in these homemade and personal stories that we see Max’s personality and depth as a character.
In the movie, none of these things happen. Instead of the homemade books, Max gives Liesel a blank journal. He’s almost always unconscious, making him a flat, one-dimensional character: the physically weak Jew wasting away in some cold basement who only occasionally offers a word or two of encouragement to Liesel. Similarly, the book version of Hans is forced to join the war effort as punishment after giving a piece of bread to a starving Jew being marched through the small town. This act of good-heartedness and humanity is unparalleled in the movie. Instead, Hans is sent into the war only after proclaiming ‘But he’s a good man!’ as a Jewish neighbor is being taken away by some Nazi officials. It’s a very small detail, but Hans giving away a stale piece of bread, when he doesn’t have much to eat, adds more to the story than his public outcry in the movie ever could. These are just a few of the differences between the book and movie versions of The Book Thief.
And while it may seem like I thought the movie was complete rubbish, that is only in comparison to the original text. In the film aspect, it was done well personally speaking because of the visuals. The story draws us into Liesel and what is happening more in an almost real-time effect since, death, the narrator only speaks at the beginning and end of the movie rather than in the book where it is seen that the comments frequently. So next time you decide to watch the movie, I’d recommend you read the book instead since the film did not effectively portray the novel. Max, as a character was badly portrayed and did not show how impactful he effectively portrayed the life of Liesel, along with the kindness of the Humbermanns and characters.
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