Inkheart Incarnation


Over on God is not Elsewhere, Gareth is giving us his rundown of disappointing films of the year... To which I would, humbly, like to add Inkheart, which I saw last night with my family.

Usually Monday nights are given over to kicking a spherical object and assorted friends and acquaintences, but I blew my calf muscle last week and so was h'ors de combat last night, and so decided to use it for some precious family time. All of us had been taken by the hype for the Inkheart film, and it seemed to have something for everyone (a family which includes both a teenager and an 8 year old is not always easy to cater for)... so off we trotted to the cinema.

Now, for those who have never read the books by Cornelia Funke, or witnessed the 300 interviews that the stars and director are currently doing, let me give you a bit of the background... Don't worry, I'm not going to give away the ending...

It all centres around a man called Mo (Brendan Fraser) who is a "silver-tongue" having the magical power to literally bring characters in books to life simply by reading aloud. The only problem is that when characters spring to life in this world, a character from this world is transported into the pages of the book. Having managed to lose his wife in the pages of a novel called "Inkheart" in exchange for 3 particularly unsavoury characters from the same, Mo spends the next few years, with his daughter trying to find another copy of the book, in order to read his wife back into existence, while one of the villains, Capricorn, is trying to destroy all the copies to prevent being transported back again. In addition, capricorn has located another "silver-tongue" who unfortunately has a stammer, and in attempting to read henchmen and women into existence for Capricorn, they come out deformed, with some of the words still visible across their faces...

Now it is perhaps a bit unfair to make this up-coming statement of the basis of seeing a film of the book rather than having read the original book, but fairness has never stopped me in the past... The thing is, that the film turned out to be a bit of a half-baked promotional film for book industry. The big idea: Reading transports you into magical worlds... Or transports magical worlds into this one...

The only problem was, that there was little magical about the film. There were plenty of CGI effects (as ther always has to be these days... I think if they made a film of my own life it would be peopled with CGI orcs and tornadoes), but it still came out as being very pedestrian... My 8 year old loved it... but he loves anything on a big screen... He even loved "Hoodwinked!" But none of the rest of us were particularly enamoured. I'm not convinced that I would rush back to any sequels (apparently there are 3 in the series of books... at least it isn't as long as the interminable HP series).

But... and this is where I stop being a pseudo-film critic and try to look at it from a different angle... It did make me think about the whole thing about making words live.

Film and literary critics have been a little snotty about this "obvious" plot-device - the key to the whole story... As it is an idea that is constantly discussed in literary circles if not written about... But it was an idea that did not begin in literary circles but in philosophical and religious ones: most famously in the opening verses of John's Gospel... the culmination of many a "lessons and carols" service at this time of year, where Jesus is described as the incarnation of the "God words" we have previously been reading. The word of God that spoke everything into being in the begining, took on flesh and blood and became a child, initially devoid of the power of speech... The author was translated into his own work...

There have been libraries written on the origins of this "logos" concept... But I'm not interested in the originality of the whole idea... just as I wasn't interested in the originality in the plot device within the film, but rather what we do with it...

The question for me is what we do with all the stories we read in the lessons and carols services and at other times of year... Are they just so many words, "God words" or theo-logy if you like, but just words all the same, or do we coninue to incarnate them, through the Holy Spirit at work within us...

We may be stammering readers, bringing them into being in half-formed and even deformed fashion, but so long as they are words that are "full of grace and truth" as the original incarnate Word was, rather than spoken to deceive or in pursuit of selfish gain, then they will not simply serve to give others a glimpse of another world, a better world, but may actually help them to find their way there...

Given that the original language of Ms Fulke's books were German and the the title in that language is "Tintenhertz" I am not sure whether the "Inkheart - incarnation" play on words is deliberate... But, appropriately given the subject matter of the books, it is only obvious when you speak the words out loud...


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Woman of no Distinction

Advent Candle Liturgy 5: Christmas

An Epistle To Our Elected Leaders