‘The Book Thief’ coming soon to movie screens

The marketing campaign for the November film “The Book Thief” is starting to gear up, and it has all the hallmarks of a Hollywood holiday prize contender. It’s got a European setting, World War II drama, and its adult leads, Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, have been nominated for six Oscars among them, with Rush winning one.

And it has a requisite highbrow theme -- in this case, that words are important. “Just for a moment, imagine what the world would be like without words,” says young star Sophie Nélisse in a promotional short for the film. “Without words, the world is nothing but a blank page,” she says.

That point was driven home on Wednesday when the studio releasing the film, Fox, took out print ads that were nothing but blank pages.

“The Book Thief” is an adaptation of the 2006 novel by Markus Zusak. Being a literary adaptation makes it all the more likely to be in line for esteemed prizes in Hollywood -- except there’s something unusual abut this one.

“The Book Thief” is for young adults, ages 12 and up.


Young adult books have certainly been big in Hollywood. But in the past they’ve been adapted into age-appropriate hits, like the thrilling “Harry Potter” and “Hunger Games” series, or the spooky romance “Twilight” and its sequels.

The adaptation of “The Book Thief” is shooting for something different. IndieWire calls it an “Oscar contender,” noting its tone of “heartwarming uplift.”

The story is about an orphan girl who is adopted by a kindly German couple; they also take in a Jewish refugee, which the family must hide. She steals books during World War II, and learns the power of words, both good and bad.

That sounds like a valuable lesson, but perhaps a slightly juvenile one. How highbrow this YA book can get onscreen will be seen when it opens Nov. 15.


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