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Inkheart a.k.a. “Atramentové srdce,” “Coração de Tinta,” “Inkoustové srdce,” “La Leggenda del cuore d'inchiostro,” “O Melanokardos,” “Mustesydän,” “Tintenherz,” “E libro mágico”

MPAA Rating: PG-Rating (MPAA) for fantasy adventure action, some scary moments and brief language.

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family, Kids, Teens, Adults
Fantasy, Adventure, Family
1 hr. 46 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
January 23, 2009 (wide—2,400 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Warner Bros. Pictures
Kid Explorers
Adventures in the rainforest! Learn about the Creator of the universe by exploring His marvelous creation. Fun for the whole family with games, activities, stories, answers to children’s questions, color pages, and more! One of the Web’s first and most popular Christian Web sites for children. Nonprofit, evangelical, nondenominational.


Featuring: Brendan Fraser, Sienna Guillory, Eliza Hope Bennett, Richard Strange, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren, Matt King, Steve Speirs, Jamie Foreman, Stephen Graham, Mirabel O'Keefe, Andy Serkis, John Thomson, Lesley Sharp, Tereza Srbova, Rafi Gavron, Jennifer Connelly, Jim Broadbent, Roger Allam
Director: Iain Softley
Producer: Internationale Filmproduktion Blackbird Dritte, New Line Cinema, Toby Emmerich, Cornelia Funke, Ute Leonhardt, Ileen Maisel, Ileen Maisel, Mark Ordesky, Diana Pokorny, Iain Softley
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

“Every story ever written is just waiting to become real.”

In 2004 Cornelia Funke’s book, INKHEART impressed many. Her story about a father who reads to his baby daughter, and in so doing somehow causes the fictional characters within the book to not just come to life on the page, but transfer over the boundaries of fiction into the real world, is enchanting. Having this gift can be a magical opportunity for everyone involved to enjoy the fictional escapades they always dreamed of. But in the case of Inkheart, when the father reads the words, not only will a fictional character transfer into the real world, a human being must take their place. The trade often is permanent, as the book never reveals where the human subject transfers to. The reader could search forever and never find the loved one who has been traded off.

For Mortimer “Mo” Folchart (Brendan Fraser), a man known as a ‘silvertongue’ able to bring forth magical beings off the pages of books just by reading aloud, his gift becomes a nine year quest to find the book titled Inkheart, which he happened to be reading aloud one night to his little daughter Maggie (Eliza Hope Bennett). On that fateful evening, his young wife Resa (Sienna Guillory) was the chosen human to be taken by the book in exchange for a fire juggler named Dustfinger (Paul Bettany) and the evil villain Capricorn (Andy Serkis). We are never told who was the exchange for Capricorn, but from the story set before us on the screen, they may or may not be enjoying their stay in fiction-land.

Mo, who hasn’t read aloud for nine years, takes Maggie, who was just an infant at the time of her mother’s disappearance—so doesn’t remember the event—the world over, never revealing to Maggie why he is searching for this one special book. Mo has chosen the profession of a collector and book binder of old and sometimes rare volumes, so other than his obsessive exploration for Inkheart, Maggie just believes her bookworm Dad is eccentric. That is until one day in a book market in Switzerland, Mo finds a copy of Inkheart in a dusty backroom. Just at that same moment the flame juggler, Dustfinger, comes forth and confronts Mo to ‘read him back into the book!’

Mo refuses to do so until he finds and saves his beloved wife and gets her back into the real world. Dustfinger then becomes Mo’s unwanted traveling partner. Still not wanting to tell Maggie the whole story, Mo takes her to live with her quirky Aunt Elinor (Helen Mirren) who has sequestered herself in an Italian manor full of rare and exotic books.

One stormy night, as Maggie is curled up at the library window reading, several strange men break into the manor and kidnap Maggie and her family, including the mysterious Dustfinger. After being taken to a brooding castle sprawled high atop a dark mountain, and being thrown into the dungeon, Mo finally reveals his “gift” as a silvertongue to Maggie. Mo explains that the evil Capricorn has her Mother held captive somewhere in the keep. Capricorn craves more treasure than the real world can give and has captured Mo to read all the treasure from every book ever written to add to his insidious nest egg. The evil Capricorn promises harm to Maggie if Mo doesn’t oblige his ravenous commands!

Mo, Maggie, Dustfinger and Aunt Elinor take us all down a thrilling road, experiencing their quest to save Resa, squelch Capricorn and return Dustfinger to the pages of his life.

“Inkheart” hits the ground running and never lets up until the ending. Full of eye-popping special effects, great acting, and vivid images of the fairytales we all have been read and remember, come to life. It delivers wonder, peril and adventure, all rolled into a dark and sometimes glorious ball of fantasy.

Many reviewers just don’t know where to place “Inkheart.” They try to compare it to everything from Hogwarts to Middle Earth. But “Inkheart” cannot be pigeonholed and is a story all its own. It manages to get us to believe in it’s own universe; not too magical and not too real. Set somewhere in between now and another reality, it keeps it all together—and somewhat familiar—with references to Oz, Arabian Nights, and Huck Finn.

Being PG is appropriate, as it has no foul language or sex, but I would advise parents to not take any child under eight because of scary images, children and adults in peril, and very real visuals such as men fighting and hitting one another, men with knives (although surprising no blood) and wielding guns, men flying from buildings and cars in a cyclone, and monsters, such as flying monkeys and a dark, creepy, fire-breathing menace called The Shadow.

All in all, “Inkheart” is a story of love, perseverance, friendship and devotion. It allows the characters to grow and learn from their mistakes. It holds the moral that it is better to give than to receive, that selfishness is not a good thing, that friendship is a thing to honor and treasure, that sacrifice for those you love is right, and, of course, that one can achieve anything if they believe in it and stay the course. There are all qualities not found just in the pages of a book titled Inkheart, but within the pages of The Book… The Bible.

I know some will have issues with the non-Christian aspect of this tale, as God is never mentioned, but I enjoyed this feature much more than the blatantly atheistic “The Golden Compass,” and if I were to choose which one for my kids to watch, rent or buy, it would most definitely be “Inkheart.”

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I am a teacher by trade, and so I love children’s literature. Yesterday, I saw the movie, “Inkheart” with a group of youth from church. I think that the filmmakers did a great job of turning this book into a movie, because they had help from the author herself. There are some intense spots where younger audience members got a bit frightened, but these were not often and were balanced with other elements of classical storytelling. It was fun to see the characters of familiar childhood fairytales interact with each other on the screen. As we gathered after the movie, I could hear different people asking, “Now, which story had a ticking alligator?”, and some one replied, “It was a crocodile.” And then in unison, “Peter Pan.” I enjoyed the entire movie and so did everyone that attended the movie with me. We had a great discussion about how powerful our words can be. Both the ones we write, and the ones we say. Even if we were not the original author/owner of the words.

I highly recommend this movie to families and youth groups especially if you will use YOUR words afterwards.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Carol, age 50 (USA)
Positive—I went with my twin boys (age 13), and I cannot really say a whole lot about the movie. One of my boys had read the book, and he said there was a number of things different, but not enough to really make a difference. He said the book was average, and the movie was average.

Overall, the movie was a little slow, and I noticed the boys fighting to stay awake at one point. I guess that says a lot. Actually, the premise sounds very interesting, but it seems the movie, and possibly the book just didn’t make the most of the opportunity.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Mashall Norris, age 47 (USA)
Positive—This is a very good movie. I agree with what has already been said, about the slow pacing, and there are some boring parts to sit through; but I would say that is really only a problem that characterizes the first 2/3rds of the movie, because the ending is truly exciting and offers a very satisfying wrap-up to the story, both visually and emotionally.

The story is a classic tale of good versus evil, set in a fairy-tale like atmosphere. While the script definitely could have been better, the acting is above average, and the film features some highly talented actors, including one of my favorites: Helen Mirren, who sparkles, although I wish her character would have been given more memorable lines to say.

I only had a few minor concerns about some of the underlying themes to the story, almost all of which had to do with the portrayal of the author of the Inkheart book in the movie, who I perceived was being put-forth as a type of God-like figure. I found a few of the things he said and did in the story to be very inconsistent, and borderline offensive, when compared with Who God truly is, and what He would do and/or say.

Also, the idea of one of the characters “taking his fate” into his own hands, in an effort to change his ultimate story-line destiny seemed theologically flawed to me, as well. But aside from these minor concerns, the film has a very good message, portraying family relationships and friendships in a very positive light, and has a really exciting ending where good triumphs over evil.

In my opinion, it is because of the conclusion—and that this is a clean movie, without being corny—that this movie is well worth seeing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Brian Kline, age 31 (USA)
Positive—When I first went to see “Inkheart” I was not aware that it was a book series, so as a movie itself I really enjoyed it (and if you love books I think it just makes it that much more enjoyable). It was a clean family movie, one of the cleanest I’ve seen in a long time, and I found nothing offensive in it. It was a fun movie filled with humor, suspense, awesome characters and a great storyline.

The second time I saw the movie, it was after I had read the book, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that even though there was some differences, the movie didn’t stray that far from the book, which is always a plus. Already I have seen this movie three times and am anxiously awaiting its release to DVD.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Saraho, age 20 (USA)
Positive—We saw “Inkheart” as a family. It is a good movie, and I would like my children to read the books. I liked the fact that even though the writer of the book in the movie created Dustfinger to be selfish he chose not to. I believe he told him that he was not his God and could not tell him what to do. This movie showed that family and friendship are worth fighting for. That you can choose to do the right thing.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Sophie, age 20 (USA)
Positive—Very clean… very beautiful picture—literally. “Inkheart” probably is a golden blu-ray title. I love its character-driven story of good and evil folks alike. Brendan Fraser, Paul Bettany, and especially Jim Broadbent are perfectly cast. Their innate acting talents shine in this fantasy film. Everything works for “Inkheart,” except maybe the rushed and slightly incongruent ending, plus the phony green screen driving scenes. But those two beefs don’t mar the finer aspects of this family-friendly feature. I’d watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Keenum, age 23 (USA)
Positive—Great movie! I took my 7 yr old and my soon to be 4 yr old. They were not scared and enjoyed the movie. You have to know your child—not every 3-4 yr old would like it. I know mine loves “Chronicles of Narnia” (minus Aslan’s death scene), so I knew she would be fine.

Once again, Brendan Fraiser delivers a clean family movie. No swears, no blood, nothing “fresh,” as my parents call it. Great family movie. Adults will enjoy, too. I honestly loved it and hope more people see it. It’s action, suspense and great visuals. Paul Bettany, the fire juggler, tugs at your sympathy as a man who just wants to go home. See it and enjoy. Better than many “kids” cartoon movies that come out nowadays, in terms of morally appropriate. Use it to encourage children to develop a love for reading and imagination.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Andrea, age 36 (USA)
Neutral—My wife and I saw this, and came away rather disappointed. Compared to Brendan Fraser’s Mummy movies, and even “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” we found it to be somewhat boring.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 3½
Ladude, age 63 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—I LOVED the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, and even though they changed a few things, I still liked the movie. Though I might have given it a PG-13, mainly because of an Indiana Jones-like death that was a bit disturbing. That part was NOT in the book! So don’t rent this thinking it’s a wonderful kids' movie, cuz they will probably freak out. I would recommend it to people 13 and up.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Katie, age 17 (USA)
Positive—I went to see this movie with a friend who introduced me to the Inkheart book series. Overall, it was a very good movie; if you read the books you will enjoy the fact that the movie hardly strays from the book content. On my count, there was only one curse word, at the beginning of the movie. I think this is a must-see movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
Darren, age 15 (USA)
Positive—Hi! I went to see this movie with friends and I was not expecting much. I read the books in the “Inkheart” series, and I was… well,… not bedazzled by them. I expected the movie to be really cheesy and low budget, but I was really surprised, I actually liked it! The movie was very clean and the characters were very well-developed. The only problems were that there was one objectionable word (but only slightly objectionable by movie standards). And there is one slightly uncomfortable shot of an old woman’s low cut dress. But I would recommend this movie to all children over 5 (the little ones might get scared).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
Brooke, age 14 (USA)
Neutral—I saw the movie with my family, and I enjoyed the movie very much. I did, however, hear about 2 or 3 swear words in the movie… All in all, I would say it didn’t follow the book, but it was a very good movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Jared Ransom, age 14 (USA)
Positive—I went to see it this film with my aunt, cousin, and brother. I thought that the commercial made the movie seem great. I thought the movie was great and was pretty cool. I think this film would be great for anyone 9+. It was really great the only thing was they had some scary people who some kids might be scared of. I think it is worthwhile to see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 4
Hope, age 14 (USA)
Negative—I remember seeing this movie when it was in theaters. In general, I didn’t think much of it. It wasn’t horrible, but it didn’t feel like a project that was the result of countless hours of hard and intensive work on the part of brilliant directors and writers and actors. It was just a bit dull. For starters, there are some fantasy stories that only work well as books—Inkheart is one of them. This is because a book can just focus on the mythology; a movie, in my opinion, has to also create an imaginative world that absorbs me and makes me feel like I’ve gone to another place entirely. “Inkheart” fails to do that, because it’s set entirely in the real world, even though it’s been advertised as an epic, otherworldly fantasy.

But those are the sort of problems I don’t let ruin the overall experience for me. The real problems were uninvolved acting and writing that seemed almost, for lack of a better word, indifferent, like this movie was only filmed to pay the bills. There were also a lot of bizarre additions to the script, most of them characters that seemed to serve little or no purpose. One of the latter category would be the young Arabian man. I honestly didn’t expect him to appear again beyond the little cameo in the scene that introduces the villain, but for some reason, he stuck around in the rest of the movie despite the fact that he wasn’t really doing anything important. I also thought Aunt Elinor’s part would only be relegated to the beginning, and the author stayed involved in the story a lot longer than I thought he would as well. If all of this was in the book and presented in the same way, I must say that even the original source made some unfortunate mistakes. The whole story is overpopulated. Not to mention the ending makes the entire plot senseless.

At the end, the main character, who can make things in books come to life by reading them aloud, finds out his daughter has the same power. In the face of an impossible enemy, she starts to write on her arm and read it aloud to end the whole thing. That got me wondering… Why couldn’t they, at the beginning of the movie, simply have written down everything they wanted to have happen and read it aloud? I can’t think of any logical reason beyond the fact that there would be no movie if they’d done that.

CONTENT—Morality-wise, this movie does okay. It’s been a while since I saw it, but I can only recall two profanities, d-n and jacka-s, both of them nearly inaudible. There was some violence, but not much and not bloody. And of course, there is plenty of magic and all that stuff you’d expect from a movie such as this, but I take it with a grain of salt as nothing more than harmless fantasy. Overall, it’s not a horrible movie for the family, and content concerns are few, but I’m not sure why you’d want to rent/buy this unless you’re a big fan of the book or something.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
Matt Triponey, age 17 (USA)
Neutral—The movie itself was entertaining, but the original book written by Cornelia Funke was better! The movie has a lot of “Fantasy Action and Violence/peril” included in it (no surprise there). Another quality of the film is that even though there was a time when the swear “D**N” was said and “Jack*ss,” the movie did not have as much of the cursing in it as the actual book did.

My personal opinion is to not bring kids under the age of 10 years to see the movie because some of the intense images and scenes may frighten younger children. Overall, I give this movie a “Neutral” rating because it compared awfully to the 534 page book, but the movie kept itself action packed and fun throughout. If you love/enjoy fantasy action films, this one is a treat!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Emily, age 11 (USA)
Positive—This movie was one of the best fantasy/action-adventure movies that I have seen in a while. My favorite fantasy movie is “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” because of the biblical themes. Despite Inkheart’s lack of biblical reverences, however, it was a clean, thrilling, very enjoyable movie. It was very magical, but, at the same time, very real and believable. The characters aren’t all straightforward—I never really trusted Dustfingers from the moment that he entered the film. What hope I still had in him vanished when he joined forces with Capricorn. After Dustfingers agreed to help the Silver Tongue and his daughter find the book, (Inkheart,) I renewed my trust in his character. When I discovered his deception and self-focus, I completely lost trust in him all over again, but, at the same time, felt sympathetic toward his situation.

The movie has its scary moments—they didn’t bother me all that much though, I thought that it was really cool and engaging. My younger sister, who is only nine years old, was relatively frightened when Capricorn’s minions broke into the house to attack the Silver Tongue. (She liked the rest of the movie.) I would advise keeping young children away from this film. Nothing offensive—well, Dustfingers did take God’s name in vain towards the end of the movie. Besides that, completely clean. See this movie—despite its slower moments, it’s an incredible, riveting, inoffensive film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Laura, age 12 (USA)
Neutral—It seemed very long and it had a drawn out plot. Nothing offensive, but seemed so very long!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
Ian, age 16 (USA)
Positive—Harry Potter and the half blood prince was an excellent movie! I highly recomend it, though it wont make sense unless you have seen the other movies or read the other books. This movie is suitible for kids 8 and older
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Liliana, age 11 (Canada)