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The Thief Lord

Two runaway boys join a band of young thieves in Venice and undergo a series of magical adventures, while avoiding a detective sent by their cruel foster parents.

Genre - Family

Director(s) - Richard Claus

Writer(s) - Richard Claus, Cornelia Funke and Daniel Musgrave

Cast - Rollo Weeks, Aaron Johnson , Caroline Goodall, Jim Carter, Vanessa Redgrave and Jasper Harris

Blue Rider's Role - Bridge financier

Distributor(s) - Warner Bros. (German and Dutch theatrical), Warner Home Video (Swiss and German DVD), Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Scanbox (Finland DVD) and Fox-Warner (Swiss theatrical)

Release Date - 2006

Award for Thief Lord:
Composers Nigel Clarke and Michael Csányi-Wills won the World Soundtrack Award for Thief Lord.

Release Data:
Thief Lord has played in theatres in Germany, Switzerland, Thailand, Austria, Brazil, UK, Spain and Iceland. It has bowed on DVD in the U.S., Russia, UK, Hungary and Finland. In March 16 it aired in Britain's Sky Movies Family channel.

Viewers' Ratings:
More than 77.5% of the 1,214 viewers who evaluated Thief Lord at the Internet Movie Database (through Feb. 26, 2009) gave it positive ratings, with 28.1% rating it a perfect 10. All demographic groups gave it positive ratings (5.7 or better out of 10) with the most supportive being females 17 and younger (rating it 8.8 out of 10), females 45 and older (8.1)and females 18-29 (7.8). The average rating from everyone was 7.3.

Critics' Kudos:
David Cornelius, DVD Talk: "The Thief Lord is that rarest of commodities: a film that treats its younger viewers with respect, a film that rewards intelligence and imagination. In a world crowded with movies about Ice Cube getting punched in the groin or Tim Allen turning into a family pet, it’s so refreshing to see a picture that refuses to dumb itself down just because its target audience is children. Of course this is adapted from a novel - a rather well-loved one, by Cornelia Funke - and literature has always been several steps ahead of cinema in terms of doing right by kids. Having seen how sharp and fanciful the movie is, I’m eager to visit my local bookstore.

"Only slowly does the film dole out its fantasy elements, opting first to place the viewer in a more earthbound setting, with only some mild flights of fancy hinting at grander things to come. It’s only little by little that the film pushes us into something far more wondrous, beginning with Bo seeing gargoyles and statues that momentarily spring to life, and ending with gentle surprises too delightful to spoil here.

"What’s most noticeable about the film is how quickly it moves. Claus and Musgrave manage to squeeze so much into the 98-minute running time, often working at a breakneck pace that might ruin a lesser story. Here, however, it only adds to the excitement, as we’re constantly getting swept along in the adventure. Again, it comes back to trust and respect: the filmmakers trust even the younger viewers to be able to follow along. Even when the story does slow down for an breather, it never talks down to us. It also refuses to pander to cliché.

"There’s one subplot, involving an orphan and his long-lost father, that we expect to resolve itself in the expected manner, yet it does not. That the script intentionally does not follow the conventional formula of set-it-up-here-then-resolve-it-here reveals a smarter, more daring work.

"While the cast makes each scene sparkle, there is also much to be had from Venice itself. Claus uses the city’s gorgeous atmosphere to create a fantastical mood to the film; here is a place that is vibrant and alive, of this world yet charmingly foreign. It is a city, the film tells us, where anything can - and will - happen.

"It all adds up to a movie that is aimed at children but will be welcomed with a sense of awe by all ages. The Thief Lord is a magical little story, lovingly and expertly crafted. What an absolute delight!"

DVD Verdict: "The young cast here does a fine job with their roles. As the title character, Rollo Weeks exudes confidence and mystery as the young master thief but also reveals his vulnerable side when the others learn Scipio's big secret. Aaron Johnson is suitably heroic as the responsible member of the group, seeking a better life for his kid brother. As Bo, Jasper Harris also gives a fine performance, serving as the 'heart' of the Thief Lord's merry band. Harris is really likeable in his role.

"Many kids' movies feature the 'slapstick adult villain' character, but this time around, Jim Carter manages to keep his dignity (mostly) as a fairly competent detective, while still providing a few laughs as the kids stay one step ahead of him.

There's another important character in this film: the setting. If Venice is even close to as gorgeous as they made it look here, then I know where I'm spending my next vacation. It's a perfect locale for mystery and magic. Our heroes spend a lot of time running down cobblestone streets with ancient buildings on either side, or speeding off by boat on a nighttime getaway through the famous canals. The Thief Lord is some lighthearted fun. The more sophisticated kids around ages 8-10 will likely dig it."

Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall: "It has the kind of entertainingly gonzo storline that completely disarms us, simply because anything could happen. Claus directs this story with an intriguingly freewheeling tone--the film looks sharp and efficient, yet bristles with scruffy charm, offhanded gags and authentic chaos that's often slightly out of control. Which is extremely refreshing after the slick, blandness Hollywood throws at us. The plot is like Peter Pan meets Oliver Twist by way of Harry Potter. And as it progresses, with its outrageous coincidences and over-the-top characters, it begins to feel like a distinct classic all its own. The cast is relaxed and enjoyable as they bound through the lively story. The central figures create dynamic relationships between each other. The filmmakers allow them to act their ages, too, which is great to see on screen. The bravery and physicality are tinged with real childishness; the teens have slight shadows to their personalities. Unless you've read the book there's no way you can predict where it's going. When Vanessa Redgrave pops up as a rather excitable nun, rambling on about a magical merry-go-round that can alter the ageing process, we know we're way beyond safe, predictable kids' movies. And as a result, the grown-ups will have almost as much fun marvelling at the story as the children have living it."

John J. Puccio, DVD "The Thief Lord displays fairly high production values; good location shooting in Venice, Italy, and Luxemburg; and a largely unknown but competent cast of youngsters and adults. The Thief Lord proves itself a worthy entry in the field of children's entertainment, and younger audiences will probably find it satisfying.

"Befitting a children's adventure, the story stars children, and it contains virtually all the stereotypes that authors assume children enjoy. The kids in the movie are charming, innocent rascals; the adults are evil authority figures, treacherous criminals or lovable dolts. The various episodes appear to be made up as they go along but keep moving forward to an inevitably happy conclusion. Dark, sinister old buildings and passageways abound. What's more, there is an abundance of chasing, fighting and quarreling, also a sign of children's adventure films, but there is never any serious damage involved. The film is rated PG for a couple of scenes that might be scary for the tiniest of tots; otherwise, it's a family picture all the way."

Major Cast and Crew Credits and Awards:
Directed by Richard Claus (Bananen-Paul).

Written by Richard Claus (Madness: The Whole World is Madness, Bananen-Paul); Cornelia Funke (worldwide awards for her children's novels) and Daniel Musgrave (debut). Based on the novel by popular German-American writer Cornelia Funke, whom some see as the next J.K. Rowling.

Stars Rollo Weeks (The Lost Prince, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Attila, George and the Dragon, Berkeley Square; Young Artist Awards Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Little Vampire); Aaron Johnson (The Illusionist, Shanghai Knights); Caroline Goodall (Hook, Schindler's List, Cliffhanger, The Princess Diaries, White Squall, Shattered Glass, The Mists of Avalon; Australian Award nominations for Hotel Sorrento, Cassid and A Difficult Woman); Jim Carter (Brassed Off, Top Secret, Flash Gordon, Ella Enchanted, Richard III, The Company of Wolves, The Singing Detective, Lost Empires, The Madness of King George; won SAG award for Shakespeare in Love); Vanessa Redgrave (Blowup, A Man for All Seasons, Mission Imposible, Venus, Deep Impact, The Pledge, Girl Interrupted, Murder on the Orient Express, Peter the Great, The Devils; Oscar for Julia; Oscar noms for Howard's End, The Bostonians, Morgan, Mary Queen of Scots and Isadora; and 22 major world awards for films including Prick up Your Ears, Little Odessa, Camelot, Wetherby, Playing for Time, If These Walls Could Talk and The Gathering Storm; plus 80 other movies and TV projects) and Jasper Harris (Messiah III: The Promise, Hear the Silence).

Cast includes Alice Connor (A Knight's Tale, Alien Love Triangle); George McKay (Peter Pan, Tsunami: The Aftermath); Lathaniel Dyer (Casualty, Trial and Retribution); Alexi Sayle (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Gorky Park, Solarbabies, The Bride, Tipping the Velvet); Carole Boyd (Crossroads, Campion, Bodger and Badger); Bob Goody (Flash Gordon, Bleak House, The Lighthouse, The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover); Geoffrey Hutchings (Henry V, Topsy Turvy, Clockwise, RKO 281, The Affair of the Necklace, Longitude, Our Friends in the North) and Margaret Tyzack (A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Match Point, Scoop, I Claudius, Prick Up Your Ears, The Forsythe Saga; BAFTA Best Actress Award for The First Churchills and Emmy nom for Cousin Bette).

Executive producers are Gary Hamilton (The Merchant of Venice, Lord of War, Wolf Creek, Kiss or Kill); Alexander Buchman (An American Werewolf in Paris, Mute Witness, The Little Vampire); Jimmy de Brabant (Girl With a Pearl Earring, 8 1/2 Women, Rescue Dawn, Shadow of the Vampire, Merchant of Venice) and Michael Dounaev
(Delirious, The Payback, Rescue Dawn, Three).

Producer is Richard Claus (An American Werewolf in Paris, Mute Witness, The Little Vampire and six German films).

Original Music by Nigel Clarke (Jinnah, The Little Vampire, The Rocket Post) and Michael Csányi-Wills (Space Chase, Benjamin's Struggle, The Little Vampire).

Cinematography by David Slama (54 German films and TV projects; won a major German award for Der Letzte Kurier).

Film Editing by Peter R. Adam (Mute Witness, An American Werewolf in Paris, The Little Vampire;
won German Film Awards for Best Editing on Goodbye Lenin and Comedian Harmonists; was nominated for another for Der Neunte Tag; won two German Camera Awards).

Production Design by Matthias Kammermeier (Mute Witness, An American Werewolf in Paris).

Costume Design by Stephanie Collie (Layer Cake, Peter's Friends, Among Giants, Stiff Upper Lips and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels).

Special Effects by Alain Couty (Ronin, Girl With a Pearl Earring, The Merchant of Venice, The Musketeer, Three, Les Miserables).

Visual Effects Supervised by Jan Kruse (Eragon, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Hitchhiker, King Kong, Ignition, Kevin of the North).

Release Data:
Released in Germany, Switzerland, Netherlands, U.K., Russia, Brazil, Austria, Spain and Iceland in 2006.

Internet Movie Database entry for Thief Lord

Thief Lord trailers, clips, inside info at

Official site (in German)

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