Skip to main content
  1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. Books

Book into Film: 'The Book Thief' adaptation turns brown eyes blue

See also

Movie Adaptation of 'The Book Thief' by Markus Zusak

Rating:
Star4
Star
Star
Star
Star

Attention to detail underlies every successful film adaption of an historic novel like "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. Director Brian Percival earns four stars.

Percival cast the role of Zusak’s protagonist based on talent alone, inserting blue-eyed Sophie Nelisse into the role of brown-eyed Liesel Meminger. This is a mistake that might have been corrected with brown contact lenses. For whatever reason, they remained blue.

Liesel must have brown eyes. Zusak specifies this requirement several times in his World War 2 novel. It matters.

Hitler was intent on creating a “Master Race”, multiplying populations of Northern Europeans and annihilating the rest. His “Ubermensch”- the top of Hitler’s heap- were blond, blue-eyed champions.

Those without Ubermensch status were not encouraged to breed. Some unfortunates were sterilized. Many were sent to work and die with Jews and gypsys in concentration camps. At the bottom of Hitler’s hierarchy lay expendable, dark-skinned, indigenous folk, categorized as mentally and physically deficient beings.

Not only did blue-eyed, blond-haired girls like Nelisse have more fun, they dominated classrooms and social gatherings like genetically endowed goddesses: middle school mean girls.

Liesel's brown eyes distanced her from Hitler's Nordic ideal. Add to that her adopted status and brown eyes were more suspect; brave Germans opposing the regime did what they could to hide Jewish families. Think Anne Frank.

Hans, Liesel’s adopted father, was a suspected Jew-lover. His application for membership in the Nazi Party sat unapproved on an anonymous desk; Hans had been observed painting over graffiti containing a Jewish slur. Such despicable behavior raised swastika red flags sky high.

Hans was conscious of the danger Liesel’s eyes afforded and acknowledged this fear, whispering "keep your eyes down" as father and daughter strolled past a Nazi soldier on high alert. The quality of brown eyes may have been a minor character in the novel, but it was a significant one, generating habits of behavior common to minorities- not to an oblivious elite.

Markus Zusak penned an eloquent, 5-star novel that confronts readers to face inner demons and death, to weigh life's value against great odds. Even as his terrifying read inspires fearful dreams, it illuminates goodness.

The quality of Zusak's vision shines through, despite Percival's distortions, earning the film a four star rating.

Advertisement

Arts & Entertainment

  • Jack White
    Reddit users have fun with Jack White's unhappy face at a Cubs game
    Headlines
  • Fifty Shades of Grey
    The first 'Fifty Shades of Grey' trailer has been released, leaving fans wanting more
    Video
    Movies Buzz
  • Big Bang Theory
    Will CBS be able to ink a deal with the cast of 'The Big Bang Theory' before shooting begins?
    Camera
    12 Photos
  • Hercules
    Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson brings fun, adventure, and heart as 'Hercules'
    Camera
    5 Photos
  • Shermar Moore
    Daytime television is about to get a lot hotter with Shemar Moore back on the screen
    Camera
    11 Photos
  • Adele
    Adele's infant son has won a substantial amount of money in a paparazzo lawsuit
    Video
    Today's Buzz

Related Videos: