FILM RECOMMENDATION

Film: THE BOOK THIEF

Where you can find it: Amazon prime £3.49 (to rent), iTunes £3.49 (to rent), Google Play £2.49 (to rent).

Running time: 2h 11 min

Certification: 12

Synopsis: Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson star in this inspiring film based on the bestseller about Liesel, (Sophie Nélisse), a girl adopted by a German couple (Rush and Watson) who hide a Jew (Ben Schnetzer) from Hitler's army. Soon Liesel discovers that words and imagination provide an escape from the events unfolding around her family in this extraordinary film directed by Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

(From Google Play synopsis)


Discussion Points (Questions and Answers)

  1. What were your initial reactions to the film?
  2. Consider both pros and cons of the film and any questions that the film raised that you would like to explore in more detail.
  1. Can fictional films like this one add to our understanding of the Holocaust?
  2. If yes, how does the film do this? If no, consider why not. Bear in mind that the film is not intended to educate.
  1. What is the effect of telling this story from the perspective of a child?
  2. What does this perspective offer us? Does it add or detract anything compared to stories that focus on adults?
  1. How is the theme of books and the power of words portrayed?
  2. Consider the attitudes of the main characters as well as how Nazi ideology frequently attacks this value.
  1. What do you think about the film’s portrayal of bystanders?
  2. A bystander is a person who watches an injustice being done and does nothing to stop it. How is bystander behaviour portrayed? Does this challenge our thinking in any way?
  1. In this film, Jewish characters generally lie in the background of the story, with the exception of Max. Does drawing the focus away from victims help or hinder our understanding of the Holocaust?
  2. What is the value of humanisation in the film, including of perpetrators and bystanders? Does this film effectively humanise victims and survivors of the Holocaust? What do you think of Max’s character as the primary Jewish voice?
  1. How can we consider the film and the story it tells in light of this year’s theme for Holocaust Memorial Day, One Day?
  2. Were there any singular days that particularly affected the lives of the people depicted? What particular days and moments stood out to you during the film? What does the theme mean to you in terms of remembrance?
  1. Overall, is this a useful source to learn about the Holocaust?
    1. Yes – What makes it useful? What are the positives of using this film as a source?
    2. No – Why is it not useful? What are the negatives of using this film as a source?

Spend time reflecting on the film and addressing any questions that may have been raised by others throughout the course of the discussion.

For guidance on how to use The Book Thief for your own film night and discussion, we recommend you watch our Education Officer Ben Fuller talk about The Book Thief at HET’s own film club: The Book Thief - #HETFilmClub Episode Five - YouTube.


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