I have read (The Book Thief) right before watching the movie.

I know there are a lot of changes to make the adaption from novel to screen possible, but I couldn't help noticing that Hans Huberman character was not adapted well.

For starters, many of the sweet moments between him and his daughter, were skipped (such as when Liesel asked her father not to tuck her in bed anymore since she is "no longer that young". And in the novel, the author did a remarkable effort describing how it must have felt for her father to be denied of doing what he liked best, and at the same time saying something opposite like "Thank God, I was wondering when would you say that.. My back is killing me from all this sleepless nights... etc".

But what made me write this is the scene where it was Hitler's birthday and Liesel shouted out "I hate the Führer", and Hans slapped her immediately. We know he loved nothing more than he loved his daughter, and we can understand why he did that in the novel. But in the movie, nothing like that happened. We never see him hurting her at any point.

Is it because: this is a Hollywood movie and there is some sort of an agreement not to show abuse to children in movies? Or was there not enough time to include these moments in this 2 hour movie?


1 Answer 1


I don't think there is a definitive reason for this given in any interview and there's certainly no law against it being shown.

Instead, I the answer lies in his actions. In the book, the scene is described quite well. He is scared and needs her to realise how serious her words were. To quote from the book:

"I knew it." The words were thrown at the steps and Liesel could feel the slush of anger, stirring hotly in her stomach. "I hate the Fuhrer", she said. "I hate him."

And Hans Hubermann?

What did he do? What did he say?

Did he bend down and embrace his foster daughter, as he wanted to? Did he tell her that he was sorry for what was happening to her, to her mother, for what had happened to her brother?

Not exactly.

He clenched his eyes. Then opened them. He slapped Liesel Meminger squarely in the face.

"Don't ever say that!" His voice was quiet, but sharp.

Whilst the book really does do a good job of showing his tortured anguish in this scene, it would be a very heavy handed thing to include in a film. Hans Hubermann is meant to be a hero - it could conflict audiences to see him slapping this little girl in the moment she realises the evilness of the Fuhrer. Of course, this is a fairly weak explanation. They could have shown it with him in near-tears afterwards.

But they didn't. instead, they chose to show a concerned father, as opposed to a concerned and deeply conflicted one.

Of course, the actual meaning of the scene is still fairly well explained, but it was moments like this (or rather the lack of this moment) that stopped critics raving about the film and instead led to it getting a fairly lukewarm response.

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