Sunday, March 23, 2008

Stardust-- Neil Gaiman-- Comparison Book and Film


Stardust was produced in three formats, a graphic novel, film, and a book. I am going to focus on two of them, the book and the film.

Neil Gaiman's Stardust was produced both as a film and a book. I liked the book far better than the film. There was a lot that was very different between the film and the book. Neil Gaiman apparently was inspired by Charles Vess's drawings to write Stardust.

The novel is far different than the film. There is much less violence in the novel and it is definitely more of a love story than an adventure story in the book. The ending where there is a huge battle between the three witches and the hero simply does not happen in the book. The witch cannot have the Star's heart because she has given it to Tristan Thorne because she loves him. It is no longer available for the Lilim to take.

Also the "Babylon Candle" is black magic in the film. I have no idea why they did this. Maybe they were appealing to people who believe all magic is evil. In the book, it's magic comes from the magic of nursery rhymes.

"How Many Miles to Babylon
Three Score Miles and Ten,
Can I get there by candlelight,
Yes, there and back again.
Yes, if your feet are nimble and light,
You can get there by candlelight."

Also a little man gives Tristan Thorne his candle in the book. Maybe the little man is a leprechaun. A person who helps him in the land of fairy.

There is another nursery rhyme in the book which occurs, the lion and the unicorn. Here it might have made sense if Tristan Thorne helped save the unicorn from the lion. Here is the rhyme. It is not clearly explained how the unicorn appears in the film.

The Lion and the Unicorn Were Fighting for the Crown
The Lion Beat the Unicorn All About the Town
He beat him once, he beat him twice
With All his might and main
He beat him three times over
His power to maintain

I rather like this hidden allusion to Tristan Thorne's royal blood. I also like how it describes Tristan Thorne and the Star riding the unicorn in the book. The unicorn is still a very beautiful animal in the film. This would not fit well with the theme of magic being mostly bad in the film.

The way magic was shown in the film was quite sinister. At points it became ridiculous. An old woman shooting flames at Septimus the lord of Stormhold in the final battle seemed overdone. It seemed like the final fight scenes were put in just for special effects.

Three was a lot removed from the film which I would have liked to see. I think, it would have been better if they had shown more of the "faery market" in its splendor. I thought they showed too little.

The best part of the film, I thought was the skyship, Perdida. I liked them catching lightning, dancing, and Tristan Thorne learning swordplay on the flying ship. It was really interesting watching a ship fly through the sky. Some people say that Robert DeNiro's playing a gay pirate was ridiculous. I thought it was funny. This was a very short piece in the book.

The countryside in the film was also very beautiful to look at. It had the feeling of green rolling hills where very few people live. Also the costumes were interesting to look at. They had a swashbuckling feel to them that you would see in historical romances.

There are also small differences in the book which did not appear in the book. Tristan's mother in the book had cat's ears and a tail. I guess this was a bit too odd for the film. In the book, the jewel which the Star wears is around her waist, not a necklace. It is also a topaz in the book, not a ruby. These little details changed the perception of the film ever so slightly.

Also, Victoria is in love with Mr. Monday, the shop owner, not the young fop in the movie. I rather like this a lot. It makes more sense in the book that there would be rivalry and loss of his job if Tristan Thorne worked for Mr. Monday. It is almost silly to see Tristan Thorne hit with a cane in the film.

The scene with the promise of love and following the star for Victoria is done right in both the film and the book. In the book, Tristan Thorne is let through the wall because they know he is part of faery. In the film, he has to fight an eighty year old man... This makes for a kind of silly inconsistency.

The film was enjoyable to watch with excellent cinematography, but it turned the story into a swashbuckling adventure film, rather than a fantasy romance.

Even the ending is different. Towards the end of the book, it is found out the star cannot bear children, yet lives on forever after Tristan Thorne dies. This is an allusion to the immortality of fairy. There is always a sadness which occurs when people with mortal blood love the fae. In the film, Tristan Thorne and the Star live happily ever after and have many children eventually becoming stars again.

I think Neil Gaiman created a different story for the film, one which would appeal to the swashbuckling fan. I would have preferred that he stick to the original story in the book which I enjoyed a lot more than the film. Still, the film was enjoyable enough to watch.

However, I wish they had not chosen to add unnecessary violence and chosen to portray the magic of faery as black magic or evil.

1 comment:

A. said...

I have a copy of Stardust sitting beside me here on my desk so I must re-read it. I haven't seen the film and now I don't think I want to, because I loved the book so much.