Before meeting Rapunzel, I had been a decade without entering a cinema.
So far, I have been surprised by Tangled, Brave, Frozen, Snow White and the Huntsman, Jack the Giant Slayer, Les Misérables… and The Book Thief.
Yesterday evening, I saw The Book Thief, a wonderful film about the value of love and literature, set against the backdrop of Third Reich Bavaria, and featuring a dynamic and clever heroine in plucky orphan Liesl, whose parentage and backstory remain unknown (we only know that she comes from the Protestant North, that the Red Cross nurse who brought her to the Hubermanns' is not her mother, that the dark-haired boy who died on the train was merely her foster brother [different surnames], that she was illiterate when she came to Bavaria, that she is left-handed), but whose present and future life are full of optimism and excitement, hope and loving care.
|Liesl Hubermann and her kindly guardian Hans embrace.|
The narrator is Death, a self-proclaimed "faithful servant to the Führer" and many other tyrants, (highlight for spoilers) who takes the lives of Liesl's loved ones, sparing her alone, during the Russian invasion (the heroine lives to the ripe old age of 90, happily married with children and grandchildren, a worldwide celebrity and prize-laureated novelist living in Sydney!). That's an interesting viewpoint, a demythification of the "pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war"… a dark view only known to scarred veterans.
Frederick Pfander-Swinborne, in Gustavus Adolphus, and the author of this blog, in The Ringstetten Saga, have explored such a view of warfare without glory, but full of tears.