Inkheart , released 2008 and directed by Iain Softley, is based on the book Inkheart authored by Cornelia Funke. The book Inkheart is actually the first book of the Inkworld Trilogy (aka the Inkheart Trilogy), comprising of the books Inkheart, Inkspell, and Inkdeath. The movie Inkheart runs true with the book's plot, except for the ending. The movie has a happy yet realistic satisfying ending, and definitely ends without any expectation from the viewer for a sequel. All loose ends are completely tied up in a nice neat tidy bow. Those who were part of the creation process of this movie (cast, crew, director, producer, scriptwriter, etc) should be very pleased with this Adventure-Fantasy genre masterpiece. The entire film is excellent, including the costuming, props, special effects and acting. This is definitely a movie that many families with older children can enjoy together during their quality family time. Inkheart deliciously portrays how fun books truly can be, for readers and authors.
Inkheart begins with a lovely narration (narrator is Roger Allan) that explains the background of what a "silvertongue" is and how when one of these "silvertongues" eloquently reads a book something wonderfully unusual occurs; things and characters from the books enter our world. Just one catch, as something is read out of a book, something from our world is "read" into the book without any control of the "silvertongue". The viewer is then introduced by the narrator to a "silvertongue", a book binder by trade, named Mo Folchart (Brendan Fraser). He is seen with his wife, Resa Folchart (Sienna Guillory) and his baby daughter. They are entranced by his reading of Little Red Riding Hood and all three are completely unaware that on their clothesline outside is a red riding hooded cape, the very same as what the fictional character Little Red Riding Hood wore in the book Mo is expertly reading. The narrator explains how many "silvertongue" readers are not, like Mo, aware of their unusual talent; do not realize they are able to literally read things out of any book. Completely innocent of any unusual or dastardly occurance caused by their reading until one special day when they read a book that changes their lives, literally.
The movie then transports the viewer to twelve years later. Mo and his daughter, Meggie Folchart (Eliza Bennett) are in a Volkswagon van heading for an Antiquarian Bookshop in Germany. Meggie expresses her desire to visit modern bookshops, but Mo explains his work is with the "old dusty" books that need saving and the modern books do not require the service of an expert book binder. Meggie is, of course, disappointed, but lovingly expresses she hopes Mo will find the book he seems to be searching for and tries to finagle Mo into admitting which book it is. Mo lovingly refuses to cooperate. They are obviously close as father and daughter. It is only the two of them because her mother has been missing for 9 years. They both miss her and hope she will return "someday". Upon reaching the Antiquarian Bookshop, the owner (Richard Strange), welcomes Mo. Meggie is outside looking at the books being sold outdoor in front of the shop. The owner is delighted Mo has arrived for he has a book for him to repair. Mo admits he can salvage the book, takes it for this purpose, and asks if he can look around. The owner mentions the oldest books are in the back and suggests there might be some books of interest there. Mo's face lights up and he heads into the back of the shop.
In the meantime, Meggie is bored while sifting through books outside. Like most girls of twelve, she is obvious about not really wanting to be there, but is making the best of her situation. A ferret surprises her when it appears on a book in front of her, startling Meggie. She reaches out to pet it when it moves away and chatters at her. A man approaches, admonishes the ferret for not being polite. He calls the ferret Gwin. The man says, "You know what they say about ferrets." Meggie responds with knowing about what they say about talking to strangers. She impolitely tries to walk away, making it crystal clear she knows better than to talk to someone she does not know. The stranger informs her that they are not strangers, calls her by her first name, and when she turns around admits he knew her and her parents when Meggie was a small child. Meggie quizzes him. He passes her questions.
Unexpectedly, Mo dashes out of the bookshop as if the store is on fire. He stands between Meggie and the man, asks Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) what he and Gwin are doing in Germany. Meggie is surprised her father knows Dustfinger, used the man's and ferret's name. Mo orders Meggie to go back to the van while he and Dustfinger talk. Meggie tries to argue, but obeys her father when Mo bestows her the do-as-I-say look. Dustfinger asks Mo if he plans to fix what he did 9 years ago, the night Mo's wife disappeared. Mo informs Dustfinger is out of luck. He does not read anymore. Dustfinger insists they go for a walk to discuss this matter. He mentions how much he misses his home and the world he was "read" out from. Dustfinger reminds Mo that his wife is still in the book, and if he is read into it, then she may be read out of it. Mo is uncertain this will occur. He has no control who goes in and who comes out of any book he reads. Dustfinger is willing to take the chance. Mo is not, turns him down, tells him to learn to live with disappointment and enjoying being in the "real world". He hits Dustfinger with his book bag, knocking Dustfinger down, then runs away. Mo finds Meggie not exactly in the van. Upset he hustles her into the van and parent-ally chastises her verbally for not doing what he told her to do. Explains how he was trying to look out after her well being and why he needs some cooperation. Meggie apologizes as Mo drive's to her Great-Aunt Elinor Loredan's estate in Italy. They do not talk much during the drive, mostly because Mo refuses to answer Meggie's questions about Dustfinger and Gwin.
Unbenownst to Mo, his refusal to aid Dustfinger back into the book precipitates Dustfinger to go to the arch-villain Capricorn (Andy Serkis) who had also been read out of the same book that Dustfinger came from. Capricorn is deceitful and a liar, but is able to recruit Dustfinger to his side by promising exactly what Dustfinger desires, to be returned to his world. All Dustfinger has to do is locate Mo, and deliver him to Capricorn. To ensure Dustfinger does as promised, Basta (Jamie Foreman) and a few other henchmen go with Dustfinger to help in kidnapping Mo. Capricorn has plans and Mo is an integral part required for their dastardly completion. Dustfinger, Basta, and the other henchmen (with Gwin) locate the estate Mo and his daughter are visiting. They frighten Great-Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) and Meggie when they dramatically break in through windows. Dustfinger poses an extraordinary question to Mo regarding the safety of the two he loves, Great-Aunt and daughter. Dustfinger and Basta do not give Mo any alternative. He either cooperates with Capricorn, or the Great-Aunt and daughter live with the despicable Capricorn forever as his guests, never to see Mo again.
All three end up visiting Capricorn as his guests in a castle high in the Italian mountains. It does not look like a welcome place, but is a replica of the castle described in the book Inkheart. This is where Mo, Meggie, and Elinor find out exactly why Capricorn wanted Mo. He wants Mo to read riches out of books (he plans to expand his empire globally) and explains that after Mo makes him the wealthiest person in Mo's world, Capricorn expects Mo to read the "Shadow" out of the book Inkheart so all will be forced to cooperate with Capricorn as ruler of the world, or die by the "Shadow".
The rest of the movie is about Mo's lack of cooperation, escaping from Capricorn, enlisting the aide of the author of Inkheart, Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), and Meggie developing into the heroine for she too is a "silvertongue". This special talent is hereditary after all.
Other primary cast members included (in order given by credits): Rafi Gavron (Farid, who assists Dustfinger, Meggie, and Mo in rescuing those Capricorn has imprisoned), Matt King (Cockerell, a henchman of Capricorn), Steve Speirs (Flatnose, another henchman of Capricorn), Stephen Graham (Fulvio, also a henchman of Capricorn), John Tomson (Darius, the stutterer who is a "silvertongue"), Lesley Sharp (Mortola, ally of Capricorn), Tereza Srbova (Rapunzel, half-way read out of the fairy tale by Darius who does not read as well as Mo), and Jennifer Connelly (Roxanne, Dustfinger's wife).
Inkheart is 1 hour 46 minutes in length and rated PG. Personally recommend for eight years of age and older; would not recommend for younger children due to how scary the "Shadow" appears and the gruesome scene of Capricorn's demise (why the rating is PG). Do highly recommend viewing, especially if a lover of books. Loyal Brendan Fraser fan? Adventure and Fantasy genres lover? Definitely a movie to place on your "must-see" list.
Books by Cornelia Funke
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