Lightweight look at life in Nazi Germany

Published Thu, Feb 6, 2014 · 10:00 PM
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DEATH - and the prospect of dying - are everywhere in The Book Thief. The film, directed by Brian Percival and based on the 2006 book of the same name by Markus Zusak, starts with a death, is narrated by Death himself and ends in tragic circumstances. Yet there is an oddly uplifting quality to this morality tale because as the Big D is quick to remind us, nobody ever outruns him in the end - so why sweat it?

"My advice is, when the time comes, don't panic - it doesn't seem to help," says Death in the kindly, dulcet tones of an old family friend. Casting mortality in a favourable light isn't the only unusual aspect of The Book Thief, which is about a brave young girl in a small German town during a time of turmoil and suffering.

The filmmakers appear to have covered the story in a layer of fairy dust - the kind you might find in a Disney family movie. As a result, there is a strange disconnect between the mood of the film and the subject it portrays. For instance, the children in The Book Thief are rosy-cheeked, cheerful and, if not exactly the picture of good health, seemingly immune to the harsh times. And while it would be disrespectful to describe the Holocaust as anything less than a crime against humanity, the film treats the topic with kid gloves, glossing over it in a few obligatory scenes.

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