Movie review: The power of words
There’s power in words. Words can bring either life or death to one’s heart and soul. They can be a pathway to shaping our destiny.
Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) a young Jewish girl who loved reading and understood the power of words is the book thief. Her destiny was a product of how the words in the books that she read influenced her as she lived through World War II in Germany. It was a challenging life, constantly bullied by her classmates who taunt her as “dummkopf” because of her inability to read. She never gave up though and continued to persevere.
Liesel lived with her foster parents, the Hubermann couple. Her papa Hans (Geoffrey Rush) was a kind-hearted man and a source of strength and encouragement. Every day, her papa would teach her new words and help her as she tried to read her first book, “The Gravedigger’s Handbook.” Her mama Rosa (Emily Watson) was a prickly wife, who is the exact opposite of her husband. As Liesel would say, her foster mom was a woman cloaked in thunder. Liesel’s is close with her young neighbor Rudy (Nico Liersch), who teased her about her book thievery. Eventually in the movie, Rudy would find himself falling in love with Liesel.
I loved the movie because I was able to relate to Liesel. She and I have something in common: the passion for books and the willingness to discover unfamiliar words and find their meaning. When I encounter difficult words, I immediately look it up on the dictionary so as to enhance my vocabulary. Also, we both share the same feeling, standing in awe, when we see shelves filled with books.
But unlike me, she didn’t have the freedom to read. She lived during the rise in power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. People did not have freedom of expression and books were banned and burned. Hence, Liesel’s stealing of books. I could not imagine living in that era. I practically grew up seeing books in every nook and cranny of our house. I can read it anytime I want and openly share the books with friends. Liesel, on the other hand, had to steal a book just to be able to read one and she had to hide in the basement to read it with her Jewish refugee friend Max. Personally, I disagree with stealing books but I do understand why she did it. I have disobeyed my parents too because of books. I would always go past my bedtime and finish a book until the wee hours of the morning.
The movie was filled with many dramatic scenes that would surely move you to tears but this was balanced by the light and funny moments with Liesel, her parents and Max. One of my favorite scenes was the one when Liesel, her parents and friend Max played hide and seek and even built a snowman in a dark basement.
The story would teach you a lot of lessons too. You would get to see how people lived during Hitler’s time and learn about living during the war. You’d be thankful that you did not have to experience it like Liesel did. It would give you a different perspective about life and you’d really feel grateful about what you have now.
I loved Liesel’s courage and perseverance. Through books, she found the strength to brave it out and overcome the drastic reality of the world she lived in at that time. Other people would have been depressed but Liesel pushed on and she was able to inspire other people too. As Mark Zuask, author of the bestselling novel “The Book Thief,” where the movie was based, said: “It’s about finding beauty in even the ugliest of circumstances.”
Liesel’s love for words led her to discover the power behind it: helping a friend recover from sickness, giving encouragement and comfort to families during the bombings. Her love for books also taught her to live wisely until her old age. “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24). The power of words gave her a way to heal her personal hurts and tragic experiences and finally, live a transformed life.