“The Book Thief” Reminds Us of the Value of Reading

Clapboard & cinema reelThey nominate ten movies for Best Picture at the Academy Awards now, where it used to be only five. I, movie lover though I am, albeit a picky one, have wondered how they can find ten movies that are good enough to be considered for that prize. I’ve looked over this year’s list, and why, oh why, is The Book Thief not on there? This adaptation of the bestselling YA book is high-class in every way, from its moving story and portrayal of history, to its acting and cinematic look.

Sophia Nelisse, who plays the main character Liesel, a Russian girl whose destitute mother had to give her up to foster parents in Germany, is a find. Word is, she gave up her ten-year-old dream of Olympics gymnastics to take this role. She’s definitely multi-talented. She carries a big movie on her small shoulders, with ample help from Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.

The story pulls in the viewer with its voyeuristic look inside Nazi Germany and what it was like for locals, i.e., it was a scary experience. But the story is made personal with a slice-of-life look at a young girl whose life difficulties are made a little better when she learns to read and commences to “borrow” books without permission. She doesn’t care what the books say, she just wants to read. She serves as a good reminder of the power of reading, alerting us to the oft-forgotten ideas of humility and gratitude for this basic necessity which transcends so many other needs. Oscar missed out with this one.

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