Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Flicks: Stardust

A review of a book to film adaptation. 

Stardust, the novel by Neil Gaiman, told the tale of a young man and his search to find a falling star. The "grown-up fairytale" had a very cinematic scale, so it was a natural choice for a film adaptation. The film opens with the authoritative narration of Sir Ian McKellen, explaining the history of the world and the strange city of Wall. The city is a fairly normal, English town, separated from the mysteries of the rest of the world by a large wall. When reading the book, I imagined a tall and expansive structure, but the film version leaves a bit to be desired. When our protagonist, Tristan, sets out the find a fallen star for his crush Victoria, he is initially unable to pass the elderly guard at the only exit in the structure. Looking at the wall, it seemed a bit unbelievable that the young man couldn't find another way over the wall, but this is a fantasy story, so I guess you have to suspend your disbelief. 

Despite this small gripe, the film really is great to look at. I would compare it to something slightly brighter than a Tim Burton movie, while still containing enough dark elements to keep a real sense of danger. When Tristan arrives at the site of the fallen star, he does not see the large rock that he expected. Instead, he learns that the star is actually a girl, played here by Clair Danes. As he begins to take the reluctant star back to Wall, he realizes that he is not the only one who wants the star. 

The king of the world outside of Wall, played by Peter O'Toole, is dying. His son's, there are seven of them, must kill each other off until there is only one remaining heir to the throne. The heir must also retrieve the fallen star, in order to take the throne. Additionally, there are three old witches, led by Michelle Pfeiffer, who seek the heart of the star to restore their youth. As Tristan navigates his way home, he is forced to face these characters, and make the transition from boy to man, in the process. 

If all of this seems a bit confusing, do not fret. The filmmakers do a much better job than I have of relaying this complex story. While there are several changes from the book, none are so great that the magic of the story is decreased. When it is boiled down to its bones, this is the story of a young man, forced to grow up and discover the true meaning of love. With the fantastic story combined with a strong ensemble of actors, I would definitely recommend both the book and film to anyone who is a fan of fairytales, and coming of age stories. 

Have you seen this movie or read this book? If so, how do you think the two compare?

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