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November 14, 2013 - Image 65

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-11-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

and believe what he says.
"It's because of Max's inspiration
that she sees the world in a different
way and has the life that she does
eventually have
Academy Award-winner Geoffrey
Rush, who played the gifted pianist
David Helfgott, the son of Holocaust
survivors, in Shine, was affected by the
experience of shooting The Book Thief
in Germany.
"Standing four or five months in
Berlin and [surrounding] locations,
you could feel on a daily basis the city
itself coming to terms constantly with
the depth of its history of the last cen-
tury:' Rush says.
"It was an intriguing journey to the
dark side of what human behavior
can become he muses. "It's some-
thing you have to constantly come up
against in yourself in your thinking.
"Germany under the rule of the
National Socialists went in a particu-
lar direction, and you could see how
people had to make a choice: `Do I
survive, do I protect my family, what
do I do?' That invites you in, whether
it's as a reader of the book or a viewer
of the film, to go, 'On what side of the
fence would I fall if I was faced with
those crucial dilemmas?"'
The Book Thief includes wrench-
ing glimpses of Kristallnacht and the
deportation of the Jews, but the most
harrowing scene is a book burning
in the town square, capped by the
German national anthem.
"We looked at other locations, but
it felt to me that there was an authen-
ticity to shoot in Germany:' Percival
says. "Filming with a predominantly

German crew, I would gauge reactions
as to what they felt, and that in a way
would influence and, perhaps, not
color but make me think about the
way I approached certain scenes.
"There were tears of shame running
down the crew members' cheeks when
we were filming [the book-burning
scene]. They were being forced in
some ways to confront what their fore-
fathers had been responsible for, and
that was quite a moving experience
The Book Thief marks Percival's
feature-directing debut after a decade
of excellent work for British television
that included a splendid adaptation
of Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity
Shop and half a dozen episodes of the
hit series Downton Abbey. He clearly
has an appreciation for past events and
how they reverberate through time.
"Ordinary people can be corrupted
into believing that the worst atrocities
are the right thing to de Percival says.
"That is the key: to learn that they
should never, ever happen again.
"If a younger generation sees this
film and realizes how a society can be
manipulated into believing in some-
thing so wrong, then that's not a bad

doubt. Buoyed by his grandmother's
honesty and unconditional support,
he comes to terms with a recent
tragedy and confronts the tumul-
tuous family relationships he left
If the sign of a good director is to
make the play appear to flow effort-
lessly, then Christopher Bremer, who
is also JET managing director, does
an exemplary job.
There is one hilarious scene where
grandmother and grandson smoke
an herb-filled pipe and end up gig-
gling, consuming copious amounts
of junk food and sharing question-
able confessions about their respec-
tive love lives.
Lydia Hiller plays Rebecca, or Bec,
Leo's on-and-off love interest, who

goes through her own transforma-
tion during the brief time she shares
with Leo and Vera.
A humorous diversion is provided
by Amanda (Arianne Villareal), a
flamboyant art student and intended
one-night stand, complete with
Valley Girl accent, outlandish mini-
skirted ensemble and mile-high
platform shoes.
Sound Designer Mathew Lira
realistically replicates the screeching
feedback from Vera's hearing aid,
and the songs by various pop-rock
artists that punctuate each scene
change are just right.
Lighting is by Neil Kovin, with
costumes by Christa Koerner, props
by Diane Ulseth and a wonderful set
by Jennifer Maiseloff.

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The Book Thief (rated PG -13
for some violence and intense
depiction of thematic material)
is scheduled to open on Friday,
Nov. 22, at the Maple Theater
in Bloomfield Township.
(248) 855-9091; www.
themapletheater.com .

JET's production of 4000 Miles runs through Sunday, Dec.1, in
the Aaron DeRoy Theatre located in the lower level of the Jewish
Community Center in West Bloomfield. Tickets: $41-$48, with discounts
for seniors, students and groups. (248) 788-2900; jettheatre.org .


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November 14 • 2013


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