Bookish Topic Tuesday
The Book Thief Movie
So once again I’m sort of cheating when it comes to Bookish Topic Tuesday, since this is another movie post, but I don’t care. I saw this last week and I had to share my thoughts. I actually went to a special screening where Markus Zusak himself came afterwards for a bit of a Q&A, and a book signing, which was just amazing. The movie itself was really good I thought, though some people have criticised the ‘Hollywoodisation’ of it, I didn’t mind it.
I have to say that the cast were absolutely fantastic! They were all brilliant actors, and really made their characters their’s. Liesel and Rudy were just (tragically) beautiful together, and Hans and Rosa’s relationship was perfect. Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson were really great together. And the soundtrack was touching, and it was visually stunning, there were some really great shots with striking colour (or lack of).
Speaking of colour, it was unfortunate that all reference by Death of colour was basically removed. That was something that made the book so great, but I guess translating it to screen would have been tricky. The final moving scene, you know the one, wasn’t quite as emotional as it could have been, and the removal of colour, which Markus said was done so it wasn’t so in your face, was disappointing.
One thing I didn’t really like about the movie was Death’s voice. It just didn’t seem right, the voice wasn’t quite right, and it’s emphasis and tone didn’t really suit. Having said that, and this was something Markus brought up a few times, the movie in general is very different to the book. They completely changed the tone of the movie to not be quite so dark, I guess to appeal to a wider audience. Now this change is completely fine, the book is not the movie and never should be, but still I didn’t like Death’s narration. An example of this softening is that when Death says ‘you are going to die’, they add afterwards ‘but not before your time’. Which I thought was not at all necessary, even to soften it, it sounded a little corny and completely untrue. We all know that people die, often too soon, so why try to sugar coat it?
One thing I thought they should have included but didn’t, was Max’s book that he drew and wrote for Liesel, I thought that would have been nice to include, and shouldn’t have been that difficult. All they needed to do, was give her a book from him with some pictures in it!
Hearing Markus speak was amazing. He said that he played around with the narration a few times, at first Death was a little too creepy/sleazy and was totally inappropriate, then he tried Liesel narrating and I think Max too, before returning to Death. What was a little shocking to me, was that he said he rewrote the first part (I think it may have been the first 100 pages or perhaps the first half I can’t quite recall) around 150-200 times! That’s astonishing! And it’s no wonder that the first half took around two years to complete, in comparison to the second half which took about a month. But, all that effort certainly has paid off for him.
Something interesting that he said was that he sold the movie rights around eight years ago, not long after the book was released. And that for some reason surprises me, but, I think this is actually pretty common for books. Countless screenplay adaptations have been written and never come to fruition, and even more movie rights have been sold/signed off and never advanced any closer to being made, so, really it shouldn’t be surprising, but it still was.
I also liked hearing that some of the inspiration of the book was from Markus’ parents, who both grew up around the time of Nazi Germany. They certainly had many stories to share, and it was clear that they were a huge inspiration for Markus, even if his dad thinks that the German version was better!
Despite waiting over an hour to get him to sign a book, it was all an amazing experience! A good movie, good company, and a great, humble Aussie author!