Sydney Morning Herald - November 23, 2013
"It was dreadful," remembers Liesel, now a grandmother herself. "The little girl was actually still alive. They brought her over to our house but then she died."
Scene 2: A moderately successful 30-year-old author of "young adult" books is crying uncontrollably as he finishes a new novel. It is 2005. He has stayed up all night working; it's five in the morning by the time he hits the last full stop. "I was pretty devastated," remembers Markus Zusak. He has killed his creations, become the voice and action of Death, the book's narrator, hurled Allied bombs down around Liesel, on those he loves: the characters he knitted from true family stories, the lives of ordinary people in Nazi Germany. Now he feels empty, and he fears hardly anyone will want to read what has taken all his talent and experience to create.
Scene 3: On a film set near Berlin an Australian actor sits in a recreated World War II German air-raid shelter, accordion in hand. He is teaching old clowning tricks to two young actors - a girl and a boy - between takes, lessons he learnt in Paris in the 1970s. As the crew go about the laborious process of setting up, this trio is "singing" The Blue Danube Waltz - but they are doing it as laughing and sniffing and coughing. "Cough-cough-cough-cough-cough. Cough-cough. Cough-cough. It was fantastic," says Geoffrey Rush afterwards. Then the director calls for attention, and puffs of dust and the muffled sound of falling bombs fill the room. And ... action.