Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review - Stardust

I saw the film Stardust many years ago on an overseas flight and immensely enjoyed it. The book, however...

**Warning! Spoilers for both the movie and the novel.**

Stardust was one of those movies I knew absolutely nothing about. I didn't know what to expect, and that was awesome. I remember the man sitting next to me on the plane was also watching it (his session was a bit ahead of mine) and he was literally laughing out loud, having the hardest time trying not to make too much noise.

Stardust is a fantasy adventure with magical and memorable characters: murderous princes, evil witches, a star fallen from the sky... and a regular love-stricken country boy, Tristran Thorn.

The story is basic: young Tristran promises to give Victoria, the woman he is infatuated with, a fallen star to prove his love. To find the fallen star, he must cross an age-old wall and search the magical land of Faerie. However, he doesn't know that other, much more dangerous, people are after the same star.

In my opinion, the movie greatly outdid the novel. The film adaptation was riveting, funny, quirky, full of memorable characters and beautiful landscapes. The novel, while it did have some positives, didn't feel as charming.

Where the film outdid the novel:

Overall, the tone of the film is much more enjoyable than the novel, at least in my opinion. Perhaps it's because I saw the film many years before reading the novel, and it already was one of my favorites. Also, the film seems to get more to the point. In the novel, it took Tristran a terribly long time to reach the star, Yvaine, and it's not a very long book. While reading, I kept worrying that I was about to reach a third of the book and he hadn't met Yvaine yet!

In both the novel and the film adaptation, Tristran and the fallen star, Yvaine, end up falling in love. They realize they're meant for each other, and Tristran abandons his quest to please the unattainable Victoria.

The love story between Tristran and Yvaine is dealt with nicely in the film. In their escape from danger, they board a sky ship high in the clouds. The captain befriends them and during their stay, we see the two characters interact and slowly fall for each other.

In the book, however, the two characters spend the vast majority of the time arguing or in a mood. Only near the end do they suddenly decide they should be together. It was a letdown and did not feel natural. Tristran treats Yvaine as an object during the majority of the book, and only realizes she has feelings and is in pain near the end. (Unlike the film, where the witch heals Yvaine's twisted ankle, in the novel Yvaine's leg is broken from her fall and she's in pain during most of the story. When her leg finally heals, she has limp.)

Now that I've mentioned the sky ship, I must also point out the captain, who in the film was called Captain Shakespeare (that was not his name in the novel). He was played by the impeccable Robert de Niro. For me, he is the most endearing, badass and whoopsie character in the entire film, so you can imagine the massive disappointment I was in for when I realized his persona didn't even exist in the novel. It was sad...

The ruthless prince Septimus was also much more charismatic in the film adaptation than in the novel--and he spoke, too! In the novel, he rarely speaks and is always--always--described as crowlike. Every time he appears on the page, expect to see crowlike lurking nearby. Unfortunately for him, Septimus dies both in the novel and in the film. The film had him dying in a magnificent final battle--which, to be honest, felt a bit over the top and Hollywoodish. His death in the novel was shockingly simple: he is bitten by a poisonous snake. I actually partly prefer the novel's way to off this character, because honestly, the film's final megabattle with the witches felt like too much.

Where the novel outdid the film:

The author isn't afraid to show blood and death if necessary. Both in the novel and the film, a unicorn is killed. In the novel, it is much more graphic and the witch later partially resurrects the unicorn for a ritual to find the star. That made for a highly interesting scene.

The film adaptation of Stardust portrayed Victoria, Tristran's initial love interest, as a superficial pretty girl and not much else. I was happy to see that she is a deeper character in the novel. She doesn't toy around with Tristran so maliciously, and she is in turmoil during the time Tristran disappears into the land of Faerie. Near the end of the novel, there is an excellent scene where Tristran returns to his hometown and discovers much more time has passed on that side of the wall than in Faerie. He meets with Victoria and she tells him how worried she was and how guilty she felt for making him walk into the magical land to find that fallen star.

Probably my favorite part about the novel, which I mentioned above, is that there isn't any big final battle between the heroes and the evil witches out to devour Yvaine's heart. That battle, while well-done, felt over the top, as if Hollywood can't fathom having an adventure without a fatal final showdown. In the novel, the main witch defeats herself with her own powers. Instead of having a final battle, the witch consumes all her powers in her search for Yvaine and becomes a frail creature, unable to do anything to acquire the star's heart. Yvaine ultimately takes pity on her.

Overall, in my opinion the film is much superior to the novel. I don't normally say this but good work, Hollywood! The main problem with the book is that I didn't feel I needed to go back to it. I didn't feel that invisible tug drawing me to its pages. While halfway through, I actually left it for over week and had to force myself to get back to it.

Stardust the film receives four Pirates!

Stardust the novel receives two and a half Pirates.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...