The Book Thief

Composed By: John Williams

Distributed by: Sony Classical

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Based on the novel by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief stars Sophie Nelisse as Liesel Merminger, a young girl sent to live with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in Germany.  It is a hard time in Germany - the Nazis have come into power and World War II is about to erupt.  The Nazis have listed a number of books that are banned and great bonfires have been raised to destroy them.  Having collected her first book at the gravesite of her brother, Liesel begins stealing forbidden books and bringing them home with her.  Upon discovering a Jewish refugee (Ben Schnetzer) hiding in her new home, she Liesel begins sharing her acquisitions with him. 

            The musical score of The Book Thief was created by John Williams, a multi-award winning composer.  One of the most popular and successful composers of our time, John Williams began his scoring career over fifty years ago and has created some of the most recognizable and widely known film scores of our era.  Some of his well-known works include the scores for the Star Wars series of films, Jaws, Superman, the Indiana Jones films, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Schindler's List, Harry Potter, Memoirs of a Geisha, War Horse and Lincoln.

            The musical score of The Book Thief alternates between piano solos and orchestral music.  The piano appears to represent Liesel, light and youthful and still full of wonderment, but also touched by sadness.  The orchestra appears to represent the world around Liesel and is often somber, though filled with a sense of beauty.  Snow Fight is one of the lightest tracks on the album with fast-paced strings and horns describing the frolicking fun of children at play.  Learning to Read is a beautiful orchestral track that appears to open like a flower, blossoming as Liesel's understanding of the words printed on the page grows.  Book Burning is an intense and dark track featuring ominous undertones.

            The Book Thief Soundtrack is a beautiful listening experience expressing the emotions of Liesel as she struggles to understand the world falling apart around her while experiencing a whole new world opening before her in the form of books.  The music is so beautifully engaging that it inspires you to want to see the film.  I'm sure you will be seeing a review of the film from me sometime in the weeks ahead.  With the musical score of The Book Thief, John Williams has once again proven that he still has it - that ability to understand just the right musical score for whatever film crosses his path.


For feedback, visit our message board or e-mail the author at