Monday, April 13, 2009

Dustfinger Character Study

So, did everyone have a good Easter weekend? I did! We had a track meet on Good Friday, which was kind of weird. No high jump..bummer...Saturday Justin took Josh and me out to Zio's Italian Kitchen (soooo good!) then we went to a Tenth Avenue North/Hawk Nelson/Jeremy Camp/MercyMe concert. It was a pretty good concert. I have to admit, my favorites bands there were Tenth Avenue North and Hawk Nelson. I'd go to see them again for a concert. If I was going for a worship service I might go see Jeremy Camp or MercyMe again.

Sunday, we had our good friends the S's, Rachel and Colin C, and Justin's family over for Easter. Mmmm, ham, potluck potatoes, cranberry-orange-pecan cream cheese dip, pineapple, and my favorite dessert ever...Orange Marmalade Cake from the Mitford books!!! Oh yummy!!

Before the weekend, the week went on as usual--track practice, baseball practice, working around the house...yep!

Anyway, this week's post is about Dustfinger, a character from the movie Inkheart.

A few weeks ago, I went to see Inkheart with Justin and his family. Inkheart is OK. It had a fascinating concept (silvertongues who can read characters from books into our world) and gorgeous shooting (in Italy! How much better can you get for a contemporary fantasy?). But to me, it wasn’t one of those “wow” movies like LOTR or the first Narnia or the Bourne movies. And it wasn’t funny enough, like Pirates of the Caribbean, to merit seeing a lot.

Well…I have to admit, the author character was funny for me, because I sympathized with him completely. There were a couple of times Justin nudged me and whispered, “This guy sounds just like you when you’re hyped about one of your stories.”

But I missed some of the wow factor because I was engrossed, the entire movie, in a character study of Dustfinger (except for distracted moments when I was interested in the author character).

Dustfinger, from what I remember, is a fire juggler who was accidentally read into our world by Mo. Watching him manipulate fire to do neat tricks is kind of cool, since the moviegoers are treated to flashbacks of his memory in his world, juggling at the king’s court. We also get to see him do it once in our world.

But his character was fascinating for me. Maybe it was because I’d just learned about building a solid, steady character who can surprise you in believable ways while not stepping out of his characterization. But every choice Dustfinger made, I could believe in because they did such a good job with his character building.

When you meet him first, he’s absolutely adamant about Mo reading him back into his world. He pleads, he threatens—Mo doesn’t listen to him because Mo’s afraid of the consequences (when he read Dustfinger and the villain, Capricorn, into our world, he accidentally sent his wife into their world). So, when Mo refuses him, Dustfinger does something we can believe, but at first don’t expect him to do—he goes to Capricorn for help.

By this time, we got the idea that Dustfinger has a very strong desire—he wants to get back into his world, at all costs. And we’ve got the idea that he’s kind of a selfish guy. As the movie progresses, we see more and more how his desire to get back into his world motivates his selfish choices. When Mo, Meg, and Mo’s aunt are captured by Capricorn for the first time, Dustfinger discovers that Capricorn doesn’t intend to let Mo read him back into the book. While trying to figure out a way to get his desire, Mo realizes that one of the kitchen maids, Resa, is Mo’s lost wife, who was read out of the book by the stuttering silvertongue that Capricorn had previously employed.

As they escape, however, Dustfinger leaves Resa behind, afraid that if Mo finds his wife, he won’t bother trying to find a copy of Inkheart, the book Dustfinger came from. To his credit, Dustfinger does tell Mo about Resa—once they’ve found the book. And when everyone ends up in Capricorn’s mountain fortress a second time around (either captured or attempting a rescue) Dustfinger leaves them behind to escape. Then, halfway down the mountain, he stops, looks back, and goes running back up. At first, we think he’s being heroic—think he’s risking his safety for the others—but no. He’s motivated by the fear that if Meg (who is also a silvertongue) and Mo are destroyed, he’ll never get back to his world. That motivates his fight from then on.

At the end of the movie, after all the bad guys are destroyed and the good guys are sent back (except two, a boy from The Arabian Knights who would prefer to stay in our world, and Dustfinger) Dustfinger leaves, afraid that now that Mo has found his wife, he won’t risk reading Dustfinger back into the book. Mo, however, finds him, and makes good on his promise—he reads Dustfinger back.

So Dustfinger is a highly motivated, selfish character—who you feel sorry for anyway, because all he wants to is go back to his world and family. To me, that was the height of the interest. I felt sorry for this selfish, unheroic character.

I'd love to be able to build a character so completely believable like Dustfinger. I think his character really includes the four d's (desire, distancing, denial, devastation) that Brandilyn Collins talks about in her book Getting Into Character and her blog. It was worth seeing the movie for me to see how much more I could get into Dustfinger's character because he was so believable.

4 responses:

Anonymous said...

The name is Resa (it's short for Theresa), not Rita. Just thought I'd clear that up. :)

Heather said...

Thank you! I'm changing it right now! :0)

Judy Bodmer said...

Hi, Heather,
Silver tongued, huh? I haven't heard about this movie, but I enjoyed your review. You think clearly--and know what you like.

Heather said...

Hey Judy, thanks for stopping by! Thanks for letting me know what you think, I always appreciate your feedback!


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