The Thief Lord is a 2006 British-German family film directed by Richard Claus. It is a joint production of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Future Films Limited, Comet Film, and Thema Production. The film is distributed by Warner Brothers. The DVD was released on March 14, 2006, and the one disc-edition includes a theatrical trailer that ran in theaters in Europe and Mosca's cartoon from the film by itself.
It was nominated for the 2006 World Soundtrack Awards, with Original Music by Nigel Clarke and Michael Csányi-Wills. The screenplay was written by Richard Claus and Daniel Musgrave, based on the novel of the same title, by German author Cornelia Funke.
The tale follows two recently orphaned brothers, Bo (Jasper Harris) and Prosper (Aaron Johnson), dumped in the care of a cruel aunt and uncle, who escape their impending separation by running off to Venice. Hiding in the canals and alleyways of the city, the boys are befriended by a gang of young urchins and their enigmatic masked leader, the Thief Lord (Rollo Weeks). From their home base of an old cinema theater, the children steal from the rich to support themselves and soon capture the interest of a bumbling detective. However, a greater threat to the children is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure that can change the age of anyone who rides it.
When Prosper and Boniface's parents die, their aunt Esther attempts to adopt the younger brother, an adorable five-year-old who eventually turns six as the movie progresses, named Bo (Jasper Harris). She plans to send twelve-year-old Prosper (Aaron Johnson) away to boarding school. However, before they can separate the two boys Prosper takes Bo to Venice, the magical city about which their mother often told stories.
Once in Venice, the boys live on the streets, and the money Prosper brought quickly runs out. Bo becomes ill and Prosper is forced to resort to stealing cough medicine from a pharmacy. The boys are nearly caught and lose the rest of their food, but are rescued by the mysterious Thief Lord (Rollo Weeks). The Thief Lord, a mask-wearing teenager whose name is Scipio, invites the boys to come with him to his hideout, an abandoned movie theatre called the Stella. The Stella is also home to three orphaned children Scipio has rescued: Hornet (Alice Connor), Riccio (George MacKay) and Mosca (Lathaniel Dyer). They steal from stores and Venice's wealthy tourists, but the majority of their money comes from Scipio, who goes on mysterious raids and always brings back treasures. Unfortunately, Barbarossa - the sleazy antique dealer the children have to sell their stolen goods to - always cheats the children. Bo brags that Prosper "is great at selling things" and Prosper ends up getting Barbarossa to quintuple his asking price. Barbarossa tells Riccio and Prosper there is a client who needs something stolen and is willing to pay big money for it.
Meanwhile, the boys' aunt and uncle, Esther and Max Hartlieb (Carole Boyd and Bob Goody), have traveled to Venice in order to find their nephews and entreated the help of Victor Getz (Jim Carter). The inspector wanders across Prosper and Riccio in front of a pastry shop and chases the boys when they run away. However, he is distracted by a friend, Ida Spavento (Caroline Goodall), and loses the boys.
Back at the theatre, the children celebrate Prosper's success. Riccio tells Scipio about Barbarossa's customer and he decides to take the job.
After being persuaded by the others Scipio takes all of them with him to go and see the client, a mysterious man known only as the Conte (Geoffrey Hutchings). However he only let's Prosper and Mosca come to meet the client in person. The conte asks them to steal a wooden wing, a fragment from the long lost merry go round of the merciful sisters, for it he would pay fifty thousand euros.
While Scipio, Prosper and Mosca are preoccupied with the conte; Bo, Hornet and Riccio are forced to wait outside. While there Bo meets Victor Getz, who befriends him. While they are talking Bo accidentally lets slip that he lives in an abandoned movie theatre. Prosper and the others return and chase him off. While hiding in a mask shop, Scipio comes up with a plan to help the others escape. During which Victor Getz sees his face.
Scipio needs to go away for a few days so he asks the gang to stake out the mansion where the wing is kept. At the same time Victor Getz approaches Dottor Massimo (Robert Bathurst), owner of the Stella. While there he discovers that Scipio is not a poor orphan at all. He is the son of the rich Massimo. although Massimo asks Scipio help Victor get in, Scipio makes a break for it and manages to escape back to the Stella.
He tries to persuade the others to leave but instead they devise a plan to catch Getz. It works and Getz is soon their prisoner. When Scipio doesn't show up for stake out the next day, the others are confused. Getz (having been released by Mosca to help fix the projector) tells them what he had discovered. Not believing him the gang visit Massimo's mansion. There they find out the truth. That Scipio had lied to them and that all the 'loot' had come from the house. Riccio is the most upset out of all of them, feeling betrayed.
When they return to the Stella they find that Getz has escaped but gave them his 'word of honor' that he wouldn't reveal their location to anyone as long as he didn't hear of any break ins. However he had fixed the projector and they enjoyed a short film that Mosca has been working on for a long time. And, even though their moral of Scipio's betrayal was low, they decided to complete the bargain with the conte.
When the group decides to steal the wooden wing inside the house where it is supposed to be, they encounter Scipio but they refuse to work with him. While looking around, they also accidentally wake the owner of the house, Ida. After a confrontation, Ida agrees to let the group take the wing as long as they take her with them. After receiving word of the transaction, Scipio drives all of them on a boat to meet the Conte. The deal goes off without a hitch.
Unfortunately, Prop and Bo's persistent aunt and uncle do not believe Getz claims though he tells them he firmly believes the boys have left Venice to Corfu. To complicate matters, Barborossa (when he was unable to get information out of Prosper, Hornet, and Riccio) decides to take matters in his own hands taking police to the Stella, where they were able to take Hornet and Bo, who remained behind during the deal, and close down the Stella. When they return, Prosper and the others find that Hornet and Bo are gone, becoming worried that Getz has sold them out and decide to confront him. Getz helps them when they confront him they get a phone call from the aunt, discovering that Bo is when them and that Hornet was with the police. However, Mr. Massimo forbids Scipio from going out there and also from staying with his friends in the Stella. They also figure out that the money the Conte gave them is also fake, according to Getz.
Ida and Getz are able to get Hornet, whose real name is Catarina, out of the orphanage she had been left in, and Ida allowed the group to stay at her place. Scipio sneaks out from his father's mansion, he goes into Ida's house, who had just arrived after disobeying his father, and wakes Prosper later that night persuading him to come with him to the secret island where the Conte where the Conte resists in order to ride the merry-go-round, which is said to have mystical powers to age or restore youth to the riders, in order to become adults and both get what they want.
Bo, who despises his aunt and uncle, sneaks out of the hotel that they are staying in and returns to the Stella, where Getz, after receiving a phone call from the aunt, finds him and brings him back to Ida's house. Meanwhile, the Conte, whose real name is Renzo, and his sister the Contessa are now children, around the same as Riccio and the others. They offer, after the others discover the money payment was fake, a ride on the merry-go-round as payment for being unable to truly pay them. However, only Scipio takes this offer and after riding, jumps off after being warned by Prosper, now an adult. When Barborossa appears, Scipio tricks him onto one of the animals that restores youth but Barborossa breaks the merry-go-round after becoming a young child during the ride.
Upon their return, Prosper is reunited with his younger brother. The older Scipio appoints himself as Getz's new partner in the detective field which the man does not object to. Barborossa after drinking himself to sleep is left alone as the children are reunited with each other at Ida's, while the adults step outside. The aunt and uncle (except Dottor Massimo), who had followed Getz take the opportunity to break into the house and take back Bo. Riccio, Prosper, and Mosca fend off the two adults while Hornet keeps Bo with her, but the children lose the upper hand when the uncle takes hold of Ida's rifle and points it at Prosper. Bo, remembering the night the group had stole the wing and were confronted by Ida, tells him that the gun doesn't work. Testing the gun out, the uncle hears what he believes to be a dry click and points it once again at Prosper however pulling the trigger and discovering that the gun was indeed loaded as a bullet fires but it hits a spot on the wall right next to Prosper. Startled, the two adults are then confronted by Scipio who returns, takes the gun, and tells the aunt and uncle to leave and never return successful in sending them off to which he credits his being an adult, and Scipio was freed from his father's envy and cruelty.
Taking the money they deserve from Barborossa's safe, Riccio and Mosca split it all between all of them and Scipio uses his share to buy the boys a boat and to establish bank accounts for the others. Victor, Ida, Prosper, Hornet, and Bo are on Scipio's old boat driving alongside them. Ida comments on how they would make a great family and how the kids don't have to leave. They decide to stay together as a new family
- Alice Connor as Caterina "Hornet" Grimani, the only female member of the thieves, who develops a crush on Prosper.
- Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Prosper, the protagonist and member of Scipio's gang; he has a crush on Hornet.
- Jasper Harris as Boniface "Bo", Prosper's younger, eager brother.
- Rollo Weeks as Scipio "The Thief Lord" Massimo, a former rich boy who pretends to be orphaned and a great thief.
- George MacKay as Riccio, one of Scipio's thieves who looks up to him.
- Lathaniel Dyer as Mosca, one of Scipio's thieves who believes his father is still alive.
- Jim Carter as Victor Getz, a detective and friend of Ida.
- Caroline Goodall as Ida Spavento, a photographer who is instrumental in the gang's adventure.
- Alexei Sayle as Ernesto Barbarossa, a sly, greedy, and rude shopkeeper.
- Zak Davies as the young Barbarossa
- Carole Boyd as Esther Hartlieb, Prosper and Bo's snobby aunt.
- Bob Goody as Max Hartlieb, Prosper and Bo's uncle.
- Geoffrey Hutchings as Conte, a man who employs the gang.
- Anita Wright as Contessa, the Conte's sister.
- Poppy Rogers as Morosina
- Robert Bathurst as Dottor Massimo, Scipio's ignorant and selfish rich former father. It's unknown what happened to him following Scipio becoming adult.
- Vanessa Redgrave as Sister Antonia
- Margaret Tyzack as Mother Superior
- Roya Zargar as Maid to the Massimo family
- Ann Overstall Comfort as Lucia
- Chris Bearne as Newspaper Salesman
- Arnita Swanson as Tour guide
- Malcolm Turner as Chemist
- Dani Linster as Babysitter
- Massimo De Rossi as Barge Man
- Lewis Crutch as Renzo (uncredited)
- Mehran Khalili as Policeman (uncredited)
The DVD includes deleted scenes from the film.
The original score was performed by Nigel Clarke and Michael Csanyi Wills.
Differences between the 2000 children's novel book and the film
- The following are noted differences between the original book and the film. This page contains spoilers from both.
- Barbarossa has a red beard in the books but not in the movie
- Bo is five years old in the book but in the movie he says himself that he is "6 and a quarter."
- Mosca's father wasn't mentioned in the book, however in the story, he has a father who was lost at sea.
- Victor meets Ida towards the end of the book, but in the movie they knew each other from the start.
- The magical elements are introduced earlier in the movie.
- In the novel Prosper and Bo are brought to the Thief Lord by Hornet but in the movie, Scipio discovers them when they were being chased by a pharmacist when Prosper was trying to shoplift medicines for Bo.
- Near the end of the book Barbarossa tries the roundabout and brakes the wing off, but in the movie when Barbarossa tries it the whole roundabout ends up in flames.
- Scipio wrote a postcard to abandon his father Dottor Massimo, but it's not seen in the movie.
- Ida read Dottor Massimo's appeal and sighed. "Do you know where Scipio is?" she asked Hornet, who had been watching her work.
- Scipio left his father's boat where he had moored it. A police boat noticed it two days later, and Dottor Massimo was notified that the boat he had reported stolen had reappeared. His son, however, whom the dottore had also reported missing, was still lost without trace.
- Signor Massimo wasn't mentioned in the movie.
- In the book, Ricco dies, but not in the movie.
- Scipio, Boniface, Propser, Riccio, Mosca and Hornet are adopted by Victor and Ida in the movie.