Re-Watch: Inkheart (2008)

Director: Iain Softley
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Based on: Cornelia Funke’s novel
Cast: Eliza Bennett, Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, Sienna Guillory, Jim Broadbent, Helen Mirren, Rafi Gavron, Andy Serkis, Jennifer Connelly
Seen on: 1.1.2022
[Here’s my first review of the film.]
[Here are my reviews of the entire trilogy this is based on.]

Content Note: racism

Meggie (Eliza Bennett) and her bookbinder father Mo (Brendan Fraser) have always lived rather withdrawn lives surrounded by books, traveling around where Mo’s work is needed. This gives Mo a chance to look for a rare book. Just when he finds a copy, Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) shows up. It’s clear that he is actually an old acquaintance of Mo’s. He warns of Capricorn (Andy Serkis) and his men who are coming for Mo. Meggie and Mo immediately head towards her greataunt Elinor (Helen Mirren). But Dustfinger is right behind them as he desperately needs something from Mo: his ability to read things out of books. It’s that ability that Capricorn is looking for, too and that puts all of them in danger.

Now that I finally finished (re-)reading the trilogy, I wanted to watch the film again, too. It is still a sweet adventure film that captures the essence of the book very nicely, albeit overshooting the goal a little.

The film poster showing Mo (Brendan Fraser) reading from a book. A golden glitterwave curls up from the book, and in it are a unicorn and the other main characters.
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Re-Read: Tintenherz (Cornelia Funke)

Tintenherz, translated as Inkheart, is the first novel of the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke.
Finished on: 26.7.2021
[Here’s my first review.]

Meggie and her bookbinder father Mo have always lived rather withdrawn lives surrounded by books. When a stranger shows up on their doorstep one night and introduces himself as Dustfinger, it’s clear that he is actually an old acquaintance of Mo’s. He warns of Capricorn and his men who are coming for Mo, and the very next day, Meggie and Mo pack their stuff and head towards her greataunt Elinor, Dustfinger in tow. Elinor lives even more withdrawn and with even more books. But danger follows them even there because there is something that Mo can do and that Capricorn desperately needs.

Tintenherz is a book for people, especially kids, who really do love books and reading. Not just because of the contents of the book, but also because it’s not a quick read and you need some patience to read it. But I think it pays off.

The book cover showing a mosaic of illustrated letters like at chapter beginnings. There's also a castle, shadowy figures in front of a fire, an open book and a weasel standing on a book.
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Tintenherz (Inkheart) – Cornelia Funke

Inkheart is the first novel of the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke. It’s a fantasy novel written for a young adult audience.

The story follows Meggie,  a 12 year old girl, who lives with her father Mortimer, a book binder. One night, a mysterious old friend of Mortimer’s turns up – Dustfinger. The next day, they leave their home with Dustfinger, to visit Meggie’s greataunt Elinor. Elinor is an obsessive book collector and has little contact with the outside world, except when buying books. 
Soon, it’s clear that Mo is running from Capricorn and that Dustfinger works for him. And then Meggie discovers that when Mo reads aloud, the things he reads about come to live. Literally.  


It’s a very engaging read with plausible characters, if sometimes a little one-dimensional and character development. The story is interesting; I – as probably anybody else who ever read a book they couldn’t get enough of – love the concept of things coming to life (and isn’t it a wonderful metaphor?) by reading them.

There’s a quote at the beginning of each chapter, from writers like Toni Morrison, Michael Ende and Robert Louis Stevenson (among others). The quotes are very well chosen and give you a sense of the chapters, as well as making you want to read/revisit the books .

The ending is very good – giving closure to the story ark started in Inkheart, while at the same time setting up the sequel, Inkspell (Tintenblut).

My major criticism is the German edition. First, you can only get them in Hardcover at about € 20,- each, which is a helluva lot money and plain unnecessary (the English edition is in paperback already; the book’s five years old; so why?). Fine, Hardcover it is. But when I get a Hardcover, I want a nicer cover [the cover’s not bad but it could have been a lot better]. And – at that’s really my biggest complaint – there’s a drawing at the end of each chapter, which is great. But why do they start to repeat themselves? I mean, if it’s for some special reason, I didn’t get it. And if it depends more on the space left on the page (and that’s what it looks like), then give me new drawings for each chapter, because I just paid you 20 bucks. Suckers.

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There’s a movie with an excellent cast:

  • Brendan Fraser as Mortimer Folchart
  • Eliza Bennett as Meggie Folchart
  • Paul Bettany as Dustfinger
  • Andy Serkis as Capricorn
  • Jim Broadbent as Fenoglio
  • Helen Mirren as Elinor Loredan
  • It’s scheduled to come out in January in the US, next week in Europe.