A big fan of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, I have been very curious about the film opening next week. The moving trailers didn’t feature the most powerful element of the book — the narrator Death and I wondered if he had been eliminated. That troubled me as he really makes the book so transcendent. And so I was very happy to come across a very informative PW article about the movie with the following:
One of the most critical choices that Percival would make concerned the role that Death would play in the film. While in the book Death’s voice is ubiquitous, Percival did not want Liesel’s story to be overshadowed by a voice-over narration or the physical presence of a Death character. “I didn’t want to have Death narrating throughout the entire film,” he said, because of concerns that “it would take viewers out of the film and it might have lessened the connection with the characters.” Visually, wide-angle, high camera shots served as a means to “reinforce the idea of a third party watching the story,” allowing Death to be present as a character while also not “taking the audience outside the narrative.” Finding just the right actor to be the voice of Death, speaking only intermittently throughout the film, was a struggle: “We just knew that Death had to be warm, witty, wry, and have the welcoming but knowledgeable nature of someone we would trust and be drawn to,” Percival said in the press release. Eventually, the English actor Roger Allam was cast.
Here are some clips (sans Death):
And here is the official international trailer: