I read Inkheart by Cornelia Funke merely a week ago, and saw the film again, to provide this review with a good degree of accuracy.
Inkheart revolves around the principal character named Mo, also called ‘Silvertongue’; he has this ability to literally read people, ie characters out of their stories. This to me was an appealing enough back cover, and I immediately dived into the book, which is satisfyingly fat, consisting of 562 pages, namely the book lover’s dream. Meggie, his daughter also possesses this gift but doesn’t find out until she and her father have been taken hostage by the bad guys. Pretty typical right?
Except for the fact that Meggie’s mother has disappeared into Inkheart, which is a book within the actual novel. The mystery surrounding her whereabouts is cleared at the very end, which basically makes the book pleasingly mysterious. Added to that, Dustfinger, a fire-eater who has been read out of his story by Mo, accompanies Meggie and Mo as they’re captured by the villain Capricorn. I found this an interesting choice for a name, and the reason behind it is satisfying enough. Now in the film, there are no hints to why he’s called what he is, but in the book, Funke indicates that his name compliments his actual star sign. Good to know his name wasn’t picked just because it sounded evil. Basis in fact is always refreshing.
Now that the actual plot of the story has been laid out, its time to compare. Film or book? I admit, Meggie’s character in the book is quite different from the one in the film. In the former, she is literally clingy to the point of being unbearable and gets jealous at the mention of her own mother. Albeit she is also much cleverer. The book however, stretches her emotional state to the point of being painful; the film sums it all up in a nice snappy 1 and a half hour screening. So as far as Meggie’s character and story line are concerned, the film executed it better.
Going on to Dustfinger, and Farid (read out of Arabian Nights), their histories and characteristics have been changed. In the film, Dustfinger is married and has a family and so wants to return to his world. However in the book, he could be married to Farid for all the time they spend together. He’s a bachelor and just doesn’t fit into the real world (but then, who’s to say what’s real?). The film wins here too, Dustfinger’s history is made much more interesting and appealing..
Lastly, Mo, Capricorn and Elinor (Meggie’s great aunt) have their characters executed perfectly in the movie. Notwithstanding the small changes to their living conditions, histories, and so on, the characters are well represented. The film and the book are at a draw here.
I would recommend anyone to watch the film before reading the book because its much better that way. A rare view for me, who champions for books in the
books vs films war, but here the case is an exception.
If I could read anyone out of a book, (give me a genie in a bottle any day), I would definitely read out Harry Potter*, Heathcliff and Catherine**, and Paddington Bear***. I wonder what the general opinion is 😀
*From the Harry Potter series by J K Rowling, **Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, ***Paddington Bear – Michael Bond.