Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Book Thief

Hats off to the brave person who came to see this movie with me. After reading and sobbing throughout the book I gave plenty of warning that this movie watching could involve two long hours of crying. But in the end, I was brave the mojito, banana choc top, and giant glass of shiraz proved to be a sufficient distraction. I only cried four times.

When I first saw this had been made into a film, I was disappointed it wasn't in German and worried it would follow the likes of many others - set in Germany with a bunch of actors speaking in English with no believability around the characters. Nup. While there was only a smatter of German, the accents where so authentic that the fact that everyone was speaking English in Nazi Germany was not distracting at all. And the little things like the linen, the kitchen, the music, the landscape - all bang on the money. 

I did shed a little tear when I heard the main character sing 'Guten Abend, gute Nacht, mit Rosen bedacht' in one of the early scenes. My Mami used to sing that to me and I bet she used to have had it sung to her pretty much around the same era the book was set. Hence my sadness as this story and my own do intertwine. 

One day I hope to understand more of my family history, but what I do know is that for my mother her past involved the war, Stalingrad,foster homes and missing siblings still today. Her story is like a big puzzle impossible to solve because it's full of emotion, faltering memories and half truths. I'm not sure if I'll ever get to know what happened but there is no denying that it shaped the woman she is today - a juxtaposition of a determination with an emotional vulnerability like no-one else that I know.

The author, Markus Zusak's, parents migrated to Australia around the same time as mine and I suspect his parents were able to tell him more of their past. Or maybe he was just better at recording and remembering it? I'd like to do that when the time is right, but for now I shake my head in wonder because this story is my history too - a world away from my little yellow house life in Canberra.

After the film, there was a medicinal whiskey to reflect on what was then and to talk about what is today, in the context of war. The book (and the film) reminds us there is a beauty in the words and the strength and braveness of everyday people. It's sometimes hard to remember that when thinking about the horror and pointlessness of war.

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