This week on From Page to Screen I'll be tackling The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
First Let's Discuss The Book
Here is a bit of back story in case some of you aren't familiar with the novel. The Book Thief is a novel written by Author Markus Zusak and it was published originally in August 2005 by Picador in Australia and Knopf books in the US. The Book Thief is narrated by death and is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when the narrator notes he was extremely busy. The story follows a young girl's relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a young Jewish man named Max who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II.Since publication, the book has won numerous awards and it remained on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 230 weeks.
Let's take a look at some of the characters now
Liesel Meminger - The protagonist of the story. She is an adopted young girl on the verge of adolescence, with blonde hair and brown eyes, uncommon for a German. She is fostered by the Hubermanns when her father "abandons" their family and her mother is forced to give her up as a foster child. Her brother Werner dies on the journey to the Hubermann household. She is very close to her foster father, Hans Hubermann, and has a rough but loving relationship with her foster mother, Rosa. She befriends Max, the Jew who the Hubermanns are hiding, as well as the mayor's wife, who allows Liesel to read, borrow, and "steal" books from her home library. She also befriends the other children of Himmel Street, among them Rudy Steiner, who becomes her best friend.
Hans Hubermann (Papa) - Liesel's foster father. As the supporting character, he takes in Liesel and raises her as his own. To make ends meet during the war, he plays the accordion at the local bar, paints, and trades cigarettes for Liesel's books. As the story ventures on, he comforts Liesel and she claims him as her father. He teaches her how to read and write, roll cigarettes and mix paint Their love for each other increases, and when Liesel needs comfort, he is there.
Rosa Hubermann (Mama) - Liesel's sharp-tongued, often abrasive, foster mother. To supplement the household income, she does washing and ironing for five of the wealthier households in Molching. However, as the war causes economic problems, she loses her jobs one by one, the last being at the Hermann household. She has a quick temper, dictates to the household, and is known for straightening out previous foster children; however, though she often swears at Liesel, she cares very much for her. She has two children of her own, Trudy and Hans Jr.
Rudy Steiner - Liesel's neighbor and best friend. Despite being the German ideal (blond hair and blue eyes), he does not support the Nazis. As part of a household with six children, Rudy is habitually hungry. He is known throughout the neighborhood due to the "Jesse Owens incident" in which he colored himself with coal one night and ran one hundred metres at the local sports field. He is academically and athletically gifted, which attracts the attention of Nazi Party officials, who try to recruit him; when he declines, they take his father, Alex Steiner. He also gets into trouble at the Hitler Youth due to his smart mouth and rebellious nature, and their vindictive group leader. Rudy becomes Liesel's best friend, often accompanying her on her adventures and talking her through her problems. He also teases her, regularly (though always unsuccessfully) asking her for a kiss mostly after he has helped her to accomplish something.
Max Vandenburg - A Jewish fist-fighter who hides in the Hubermanns' basement. He is the son of a WWI German soldier who fought with Hans Hubermann. He has brown, feather-like hair and swampy brown eyes. Max's father was Hans' friend in WWI. When visiting his widow, Hans gave her his address and told her if she needed anything to contact him. Years later, during the Nazis' reign of terror, Max's mother calls upon Hans for help. Max's friend travels to Himmel Street to ask Hans to shelter Max, and Hans agrees to do so. After a tortuous journey to the Hubermanns' residence, Max finally regains his health, and befriends Liesel due to their shared affinity for nightmares and words. He writes two books for her and presents her with a sketchbook that contains his life story. Max leaves the Hubermann's residence in 1942. The next time Liesel sees him, he is being escorted with other Jews to a concentration camp near Munich. Liesel joins the group of Jews to speak to him, but this ends with both Max and Liesel being whipped by a soldier. After this incident, Liesel tells Rudy how she and the Hubermanns sheltered Max in their basement. She shows him a page in Max's sketchbook with a drawing of Rudy wearing three medals. Max is revealed to have survived the concentration camp and in 1945 finds Liesel in Alex Steiner's shop.
Now let's discuss the Film
In case some of you aren't familiar with the film, here is a bit of back story.The Book Thief is a 2013 American-German war drama film directed by Brian Percival. The film cost 19 million to create and went on to make $73 million dollars at the box office. The film opened to mostly positive reviews despite some critics believing that the stories portrayal of Nazi Germany was a bit tame considering the subjects and time period being dealt with.
Major Differences Between The Book & Show
The Hubermann's have two adult children.
This is omitted.
Death describes the souls he collects from the concentration camp.
This is omitted.
Hans Jr. tells his father that Liesel should be reading Mein Kamph and he should join the Nazis.
Hans Jr. is omitted but other neighbors make remarks regarding Liesel reading Mein Kamph.
Max dreams about becoming a great boxer and beating Hitler in the ring.
This is omitted.
Hans gives a starving Jew some bread and is whipped brutally by a Nazi Officer.
Hans is asked for his name by the Nazi but no further punishment happens.
Liesel is dragged away trying to recover the book she lost.
Liesel cries for the book she lost but doesn't try and retrieve it.
Rudy catches pneumonia retrieving a book from the water for Liesel.
This is omitted.
Well, that about wraps up this weeks From Page To Screen. Which however do I like? This week the book takes the cake. While the film is quite good, I think the diminished role of death in the film was a major sticking point for me. Also I just wish that they had either stuck to speaking entirely in English or in German. Flip flopping back and forth just didn't work for me. Definitely check out the film if you haven't already but stick with the book if you're really wanting to get to know the characters a bit more.
Still not convinced? Check out the trailer below!
Well that about wraps up this weeks From Page To Screen. Have a recommendation for an upcoming From Page To Screen, let me know in the comments below!
Have you read the book or watched the show?
Which did you like better? Why?
What is your favorite quote or scene from The Book Thief?
Leave your answers in the comments below, I love to read your responses. Like what you see? Please share!