Inkheart (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Iain Softley
Produced by Cornelia Funke
Ileen Maisel
Dylan Cuva
Sarah Wang
Iain Softley
Ute Leonhardt
Toby Emmerich
Mark Ordesky
Andrew Licht
Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire
Story by David Lindsay-Abaire
Gary David Goldberg[1]
Based on Inkheart 
by Cornelia Funke
Starring Brendan Fraser
Eliza Bennett
Paul Bettany
Helen Mirren
Rafi Gavron
Andy Serkis
Jim Broadbent
Sienna Guillory
Music by Javier Navarrete
Cinematography Roger Pratt
Edited by Martin Walsh
New Line Cinema
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • December 11, 2008 (2008-12-11) (Germany)
  • December 12, 2008 (2008-12-12) (United Kingdom)
  • January 23, 2009 (2009-01-23) (United States)
Running time
106 minutes[2]
Country Germany
United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[3]
Box office $62,450,361[3][4]

Inkheart is a 2008 British-American-German family adventure fantasy film directed by Iain Softley, produced by Cornelia Funke, Dylan Cuva, Sarah Wang, Ute Leonhardt, Toby Emmerich, Mark Ordesky, Ileen Maisel and Andrew Licht, written by David Lindsay-Abaire, music composed by Javier Navarrete and starring Brendan Fraser, Eliza Bennett, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Andy Serkis, Jim Broadbent, and Sienna Guillory. It is based on Cornelia Funke's novel of the same name. The film was released theatrically on December 12, 2008 in the UK and January 23, 2009 in the USA by New Line Cinema.


Mortimer "Mo" Folchart (Brendan Fraser) and his wife Teresa "Resa" Folchart (Sienna Guillory) are reading the fairy tale "Little Red Riding Hood" to their baby daughter Meggie. As Mo reads the story, a red velvet hood appears as a narrator (Roger Allam) explains that people known as "Silver Tongues" are born with the gift that whenever they read a story out loud, the story becomes real.

The trio are taken to Capricorn's castle and imprisoned in the stables, which house various creatures from storybooks, such as the ticking Crocodile from Peter Pan, winged monkeys from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the title hound from The Hound of the Baskervilles, as well as the minotaur (from the story of Theseus) and a unicorn. Mo explains his gift to Meggie and Elinor, stating that when he reads a person out of a book, someone from the real world is sent into it, hence the disappearance of his wife.

After reading the Ali Baba story from The Arabian Nights and giving Capricorn a stash of treasure, one of 40 Thieves named Farid (Rafi Gavron) is summoned from the story and joins the storyteller and his family in imprisonment. Dustfinger opts not to tell Mo that his wife is in the village and prompts a quick escape using the famous tornado from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. After they escape, Meggie offers the idea that only the author of Inkheart, Fenoglio (a fictional character, unrelated to the Italian writer Beppe Fenoglio) may have access to a copy of the rare-to-find book.

After learning of the author's location and traveling to his town, Elinor decides to leave to recover what is left of her book collection. Dustfinger stays behind with Farid partly in order to teach him how to juggle fire, but also due to the fact he is afraid of learning his fate at the end of the book. Upon meeting Fenoglio (Jim Broadbent), he cannot resist approaching his creation and inadvertently blurts out that Dustfinger dies in the novel while saving his marten Gwin. This devastates the fire juggler, who states that the writer is not his god, and he can deem whatever fate he chooses. While Mo attempts to find a way of reading Resa out of the book, Dustfinger has no choice but to confess that she was at Capricorn's village, prompting him and Mo to take Fenoglio's car and leave Meggie behind with Fenoglio. They discover that Farid had stowed away in the car's trunk, and take him along at his insistence. Elsewhere, Elinor has a change of heart and does not take the train back to Italy.

After escaping his cell, he attempts to free Meggie and Fenoglio who is working on a way to rewrite the ending of the Shadow for her to read. He is unable to free them upon not lighting a large fire to help him and flees only to return at his conscience (or perhaps Meggie's) beckoning.

Farid catches up with Dustfinger, insisting on traveling with him to find another reader to send Dustfinger back into the copy of Inkheart that Farid had stolen before the castle collapsed. After a moment's hesitation, Dustfinger agrees and the two start off together only to have Mo come up to fulfill his promise to return Dustfinger to his book. Dustfinger is transported safely back into Inkheart, where he reunites with his wife Roxane. Farid reveals to the family that Dustfinger's fate has been changed as he pulls Gwin out of a travel pack he is carrying. Without the marten to sacrifice himself for, Dustfinger is again in control of his destiny. Meggie sends Fenoglio to his book, Inkheart to live in the world he created. Meggie and Resa invite Farid to live with them, and Meggie agrees to teach him how to read and Farid agrees to teach her how to use the dragon breath.



Shortly after the novel was published, author Cornelia Funke sent a copy of Inkheart along with a note to Brendan Fraser, explaining that he was her inspiration for the character of Mo.[5]

"So I get this book. It shows up in the mail. 'Dear Brendan,' it's inscribed, 'Thank you for inspiring this character.' I can feel my leg getting pulled already. 'What? Where’s Ashton Kutcher?' 'I hope that you get a chance to read this aloud to your kids one day. Best wishes, Cornelia Funke.' I had no idea from a bar of soap who she was, so I Googled her. Wow, so much work, she’s prolific. I think part of the story is that a little girl who was bilingual, I think she was a Brit but she spoke German fluently, had discovered a copy of Tintenherz which she loved and read, and wrote to either it was Cornelia or the publisher and asked why isn't this published in English? And I think Cornelia probably wanted to know the answer to that question too. So once it was, it just became a snowballing thing and then that really got her out there and led to the acclaim and popularity of her work."

It was this that motivated director Iain Softley and the casting department to consider Fraser first for the role in the film. Fraser told Softley that if it was determined that he was not right for the role, not to feel obligated to use him on the project. Softley was ultimately impressed with Fraser's performance and contracted him for the film. Public auditions were held for the role of Meggie Folchart [6] with the intention of casting an unknown actress, however the role eventually went to Eliza Bennett who had already worked extensively on television and film at the time. Funke, was quoted as saying that "we had our second screening (summer 2007), which went well, and I really loved the movie, but they are still changing things, especially at the end."[citation needed] Inkheart was filmed at Shepperton Studios near London, England and on location in Balestrino, Albenga, Entracque and Laigueglia, Italy, in 2006 and 2007.

[A] lot of the things that we tried to do are more to do with optical illusion, the sleight of hand....It feels very organic and very real, and I actually think it makes the magic more effective. I think that there is a sort of discounting that goes on in the minds of an audience when they know that it's sort of a computer world or a digital world. It's like, 'Oh, they can do anything. They can press a button for however many weeks they need at a machine.' Whereas if you actually get the sense that it's something more like the craft of illusion, I think that it's more magical, actually.

—Iain Softley, interviewed on the set[7]

The production also visited Hever Castle in Kent to shoot the exterior for Elinor's Tuscan villa setting.[8]

Visual effects[edit]

Double Negative created the menacing animated character, The Shadow, along with other creatures and visual effects for the film. The finale of the film takes place within a ruined amphitheater nestled in the Italian mountains; this is the lair of Capricorn, one of the villains Mo has accidentally "read" into the real world. The visual effects work included the digital augmentation of the bluescreen set, the billowing, pyroclastic monster, The Shadow, the surreal winged monkeys with their raven black feathers and Capricorn's final transition.[9]


  • Munich Schmankerl - Performed by The Bavarian Band And Chorus
  • My Declaration - Performed by Eliza Bennett


As with the production of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,[citation needed] the production progressed very slowly. The American release was originally slated for Christmas 2007, but then was changed to March 19, 2008.[citation needed] Due to the writer's strike, the film was further pushed back and opened December 12, 2008 in the UK and January 23, 2009 in the US.

Home media[edit]

Inkheart was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United Kingdom on April 13, 2009.[10] It was released in the United States on June 23, 2009.


Critical response[edit]

Inkheart has received generally mixed reviews from critics. It has a 39% "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 142 reviews, with 55 reviews "Fresh" and 87 reviews "Rotten". It received an average score of 5.1 out of 10.[11] Their consensus is "Heavy on clichés and light on charm, this kid-lit fantasy-adventure doesn't quite get off the ground." Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter disliked the film, saying: "Whatever made the German novel Inkheart by Cornelia Funke so popular that it got translated into 37 languages is nowhere in evidence in its film version", and "The main problem is the central concept itself."[12] On the other hand, Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic enjoyed the film, saying: "Inkheart is entertaining enough, if not always easy to follow. And if it does nothing else, at least it may inspire kids to read, if for no other reason than to help make sense of it all."[13] A. O. Scott said the film "aims for a blend of whimsy and tingly suspense but botches nearly every spell it tries to cast. Its opening scenes are more confusing than intriguing, and the acceleration of the plot leads to a sense of busyness rather than suspense. A movie that can produce the image of Helen Mirren astride a unicorn has some claim on the audience’s interest, and a movie that can make that image seem perfectly uninteresting is in some serious trouble."[14]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $2,110,000 during its opening day in 2,655 theaters. It opened at #7 at the U.S. box office with $7,725,000, with a worldwide gross of close to $13 million. It yielded just $1 million from its opening in the UK, ranking fourth, while coming in third at $1.8 million in Germany. It later came to make $5,781,992 in the UK, $10,112,691 in Germany, $1,222,364 in Australia, $1,484,027 in France, $3,289,477 in Italy, $1,815,500 in Taiwan, $2,951,290 in Spain, $2,665,476 in South Korea, $1,681,477 in Russia, $2,378,200 in Mexico, and $1,080,825 in Malaysia, plus $4,187,389 from smaller countries.[3] Inkheart made $17,303,424 in the United States, and $45,146,937 internationally, making the final worldwide gross of the film to be $62,450,361.[3] It made $8.3 million in US DVD sales during its first week.[4]


List of awards and nominations
Award Category Nominee Result
IFMCA Award Best Original Score for a Fantasy Science Fiction Film Javier Navarrete Won

Video game[edit]

On January 12, 2009, a video game based on the film was released for the Nintendo DS.[15]


  1. ^ "FAQ for Inkheart". IMDb. Retrieved March 25, 2012. 
  2. ^ "INKHEART (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. October 28, 2008. Retrieved March 4, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Inkheart (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Movie Inkheart - Box Office Data, News, Cast Information". The Numbers. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Inkheart - Brendan Fraser on Inkheart and Inspiring Author Cornelia Funke". June 17, 2010. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  6. ^'Inkheart'+film
  7. ^ Director Iain Softley and Helen Mirren Team Up to Talk About Inkheart a January 2007 article from
  8. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Inkheart Film Focus". 
  9. ^ "Inkheart". Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  10. ^ Inkheart DVD (2008)
  11. ^ Inkheart at Rotten Tomatoes
  12. ^ Film Review: Inkheart from The Hollywood Reporter
  13. ^ 'Inkheart' from The Arizona Republic
  14. ^ Review by A. O. Scott from The New York Times, published January 23, 2009
  15. ^ Search: (January 12, 2009). "Inkheart Release Information for DS". GameFAQs. Retrieved August 7, 2011. 

External links[edit]