This sleeper family hit was much overlooked by the industry when it came out three years ago. It could be the heavy European overtones, or the fact that it was a subject matter that was hard for mainstream Hollywood to grasp at, but Inkheart is a movie that really should not be missed. So, let me tell you a bit about Mortimer Folchart (Brendan Fraser) and his family.
Mortimer or “Mo” for short, is what is known as a “silvertongue”. He has a magical ability to bring life to fictional characters and things from books as he reads them. One night, as he was reading the book “Inkheart” to his daughter and wife, his talent came to life, and suddenly his world was turned upside down as two villainous characters known as “Capricorn” (Andy Serkis) and “Basta” (Jamie Foreman) came from the book. The downside of having the abilities of a silvertongue is that if someone comes out a book, someone from this world is drawn back into the book. That night, Mo lost his wife, Resa Folchart (Sienna Guillory) to this magic, and has been searching for this rare book, Inkheart, ever since. Not only did he release Capricorn that night, but another character, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), an entertainer with the ability to manipulate fire, and a little mischievous ferret with horns, Gwin, as well.
Fast forward to ten years later. Mo is working as an antique book restorer, and travels about Europe hoping to find a copy of Inkheart in order to bring his wife back. His daughter, Meggie Folchart (Eliza Hope Bennett) is his constant companion in his travels, and yearns for a normal life where she can settle down in one town and make friends. One cold day, while Mo and Meggie are in a town in southern Germany where Mo has to pick up an assignment from an antique book dealer, Mo finds a paperback copy of Inkheart. He also runs into Dustfinger. He has made a promise to Dustfinger to send him back into the Inkheart book as soon as her gets his wife out. Dustfinger is desperate to get back to his own family, and also knows some things about Capricorn that Mo does not. Capricorn has found modern-day Italy to be very accommodating to an evil character like himself, and has made a home in a keep not far from Lake Como. It also turns out that Mo has a wealthy Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) with a lovely classic villa on the lake. So, next stop, Italy!
Capricorn was created merely as a henchman for a bandit lord in the book, but since then has made himself quite comfortable in this world. He has his own silvertongue, Darius (John Thomson), a stuttering Englishman, whose skills are somewhat lacking, but they are enough for Capricorn to create a small army of thugs with. Other characters from other stories are in the keep, such as the ticking crocodile from Peter Pan, a unicorn, and the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz.
Capricorn finds out that Mo has a copy of the book, and needs Mo to used his more polished skills to bring the true antagonist of Inkheart, Shadow, a demonic beast made of smoke and fire, to our world to make it even more accommodating for his world domination. Capricorn sends his thugs to Aunt Elinor’s villa to capture Mo, Meggie, and Elinor, and he destroys the paperback copy of the book. Soon, Mo is set before Capricorn to do an experimental reading from Scheherazade’s Arabian Nights. As he reads the tale of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, gold drops from the ceiling, and soon a young thief, Farid (Rafi Gavron) falls from the ceiling as well, grateful to be away from the bandits in his story, only to be captured by Capricorn’s thugs. After getting the treasure, they are all sent to the dungeons, but Meggie manages to keep a copy of The Wizard of Oz with her. Mo reads the scene where the twister rips through Dorothy Gale’s farm, bringing in various items from a fictional early 1900s Kansas along with a huge cyclonic diversion which they use to aid their escape, along with the young thief, Farid. Along the way, Dustfinger discovers that there is another person living in Capricorn’s keep that Mo has been looking for. Years ago, Darius read Resa out of Inkheart, and she is working as a bound kitchen maid in the keep. Dustfinger finds her, and helps her break from her shackles, and tells her that Mo and Meggie are here, and that once Mo reads him back into Inkheart, they will come for her. Resa has no voice, since the reading Darius did for her was flawed, and cannot call out to Mo and Meggie when she sees them during the escape.
After they leave the fortress, they decide to find the author of Inkheart, since they figure he musty have a copy of the book, since it so rare.. He is Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), and lives in a town on the Italian Riviera. He is overjoyed to meet with Dustfinger and Gwin, but their hopes are dashed since they find he does not have a copy, but then they find the original draft, and things are looking up, especially once Dustfinger tells them about Resa. This is really fantasy meeting reality at its best, and I was pleased to find out that there are several books in the Inkheart series.
If you haven’t seen this movie, give it a shot. It might seem a bit frightening for younger kids, but kids from age 6 to 106 are sure to love it. This makes great viewing for the holidays without being a holiday movie. So whip up some cocoa and brownies, and enjoy the adventure of Inkheart tonight!
I give this film a Musing review of