Any film set in Germany between 1938 and 1945 narrated by death itself is going to feel a little… surreal. As wonderful as Roger Allam’s tones might be, there’s something decidedly unwholesome about the narration of the story told from the perspective of the Grim Reaper, particularly as he recounts a story from his “best of” collection.
The implication is that the life of the eponymous booklifter has touched the Death itself, which feels rather uncomfortable in the context of Nazi Germany. One would imagine that there would be quite a lot of moving and affecting stories to hold our narrator’s attention, without a need to single out one particular story as especially moving.
This is, in essence, the heart of the problem with The Book Thief, an efficient and well-produced – if condescending…
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