Bookworms’ Fantasies: Novels in Movies

Minor edits made on July 18, 2010.

TotoNovels are common source material for movie scripts. That’s common knowledge. Less common are movies in which characters use novels.

After watching the Inkheart movie (based on a novel by Cornelia Funke), I started thinking about other movie plots centering around novels and book-loving characters.

Here are three fantasy movies in which bookworms make a difference and what can be learned by them.

In theaters
Starring Brendan Fraser and Paul Bettany
Bookworms: Mortimer (Fraser), Meggie (Eliza Hope Bennett), and Elinor (Helen Mirren)

Mo is a bookbinder and a “silvertongue”, who can bring fictional characters and items into our world by reading aloud. His in-laws include the engaging eccentric Aunt Elinor, a bibliophile with a lovely library. His daughter, Meggie, inherited their love of books as well as Mo’s magical ability.

In this story, silvertongues who read with confidence have the most power; the manifestations from a stuttering silvertongue’s readings are all flawed, while perfect creations come from the clearly broadcasted readings of the heroes.

A comforting lesson from the movie is that repairs to well-made and well-loved books are sometimes possible.

Elinor uttered my favorite line: “Books love anyone who opens them.” I could post entirely on this concept.

Stranger Than Fiction
Released 2006
Starring Will Ferrell, Emma Thompson, Dustin Hoffman, and Maggie Gyllenhaal
Bookworms: Dr. Hilbert (Hoffman) and Karen Eiffel (Thompson)

Harold is an IRS auditor who goes to Dr. Hilbert, a literature professor, after he begins hearing a narration of his life. Hilbert’s obsession with books and authors helps Harold understand his situation. They discover that Harold’s narrator is Karen Eiffel, an author who unknowingly contrives the deaths of real people by writing her novels.

This movie offers lessons to writers as well as to non-writers. All viewers can learn from Harold about courage and from Hilbert and law-student-turned-baker Ana about passion; meanwhile, writers are encouraged to think about the real-world consequences of negativity in their work.

Ever After
Released 1998
Starring Drew Barrymore, Angelica Huston, and Dougray Scott
Bookworm: Danielle (aka Cinderella, played by Barrymore)

Books connect Danielle to her deceased father, who encouraged her to read.

Prince Henry uses the knowledge of Danielle’s love for books as a means to impress her. During a date, he takes her to a monastery to view their library, and she is enraptured. He initially learned of her love of books during their first meeting, when she scolded him with a quote from Sir Thomas More‘s Utopia.

In an emotional scene following the monastery visit, Danielle’s stepmother and malicious stepsister use the copy of Utopia given by her father as leverage to regain her mother’s slippers. Danielle grieves at the loss of that copy, symbolizing the loss of her father.

What do viewers learn from this movie? Novels can help people learn, connect, and love.

Plenty Others

By now you might have thought of other fantasy movies containing bookworms. Feel free to share.


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