Monday, December 2, 2013

The Book Thief - The Movie

I seldom get excited to see my favorite books made into movies; and, I almost always avoid the cinematic versions.  After all, whose perspective can improve upon the reader's (my) own imagination?   The first chapter book I ever read was The Wizard of Oz; but, I may have seen the movie first.  They were similar yet different from each other; I was not disappointed in either one and both remain favorites.

I can see how making a film version of Gone With The Wind and keeping it as intact as I would have wished would have been impossible.  Words like "mini-series" and "television" were hardly a part of the lexicon in 1939.  And in all honesty, the gigantic story that it is, and will remain, would certainly demand a gigantic screen no matter how many advancements to technology were to be realized in time.  Condensing a book such as that one into a movie - even an almost 4-hour movie - required some scrupulous editing of the story.   The movie is a triumph in its own right.

But other really good books have not fared well on the screen - at least not in my opinion.  Never Let Me Go and Water For Elephants disappointed me.  Les Miserables did not.  Sometimes the very things that turn a good story into a great book - detailed character development, building the foundation of background, a deft hand at plotting - do not translate themselves into a screenplay that must tell the same story in a very limited amount of time.

If I was asked to list ten titles I have read within the last ten years which have all the elements I personally look for in an exceptional book, The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak would certainly make the cut.  For me, it was one of those books that, upon reading the last line, one slowly closes and is struck speechless.  Of course, a wonderful thing about reading - among many wonderful things - is that it is a personal experience not necessarily shared by every reader.  But that was my reaction upon finishing the book; I simply loved it.

So when a friend asked me if I wanted to see the movie this weekend,  I didn't hesitate to say, "Yes!"  But almost immediately I began to have doubts.  I convinced myself not to expect too much; I steeled myself to be disappointed.  I need not have worried.  The movie is lovely, poignant, heart-wrenching, beautiful. I am not a movie critic any more than I am a book critic.  However, as far as I am concerned this one was certainly worth the price of admission - with or without the popcorn.  (And since it was my $7.50, I figure that is quite enough.)

11 comments:

  1. Yay, I'm so glad to hear that it didn't disappoint! I've been leery of seeing it for all the same reasons -- I love the book SO MUCH and it would have been awful to not like the movie. Well, goody! I will try and find someone to see it with me then!

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  2. Jenny, I hope you do go and let me know what you think of it. Like I said, I am not a movie critic, but I do love the book and, if it was going to be made into a movie, I so hoped it would be done well. This one was. Like all adaptations of books, it doesn't contain everything but since I read the book a couple of years ago, I didn't remember all the fine details anyway. Oh...take Kleenex.

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  3. I will definitely take Kleenex! And I, too, wasn't sure whether to go so you have helped. Thanks, and of course happy Hanukkah/Christmas/New Year/ whatever.........

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  4. Tinky, Happy Everything to you too! The actress who plays Liesel and Geoffrey Rush, who plays Hans (Papa) are truly wonderful. I see some movie critics have nitpicked a few things. One actually thought it was "strange" that the narrator was "Death." Duh...did he bother to read the book? So, my suggestion is not to read any reviews before you go.

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  5. I loved the book so I am so glad the movie is good. What did they do about the book's narrator in the movie?

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  6. Except for one scene...the night of the bomb...the narrator was just a voice. He began and ended the film. He was shown from the back walking down the dark street wearing a top coat and hat just that one time, though. He was a presence nevertheless. I thought well done.

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  7. Isn't that great, when an experience that might be iffy turns out to be wonderful? I'm so pleased it was a good adaptation - I agree with you completely, you never can tell, and some books just don't fit the format. I used to enjoy all the Merchant-Ivory productions of classic novels (Howard's End sticks in my mind still) but I can't think of a recent adaptation I've really rated (didn't go to Les Mis - thought I'd cry too much!).

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  8. LL, I actually saw Les Mis on my son's gigantic screen, surround-sound, bells & whistles television. Hugh Jackman was gorgeous, of course, and the story line was followed as closely as one can hope for in such an undertaking. And I cried too much!

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  9. Glad you'd enjoyed this one. I think it's a gem, in particular, Geoffrey Rush. If you're interested, here's my post on it. But of course, I've come here to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and all the best for a Happy New Year! ;)

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  10. Ripple: Thank you so much. I wish you the same. And you're right, Geoffrey was wonderful! Peace.

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