Stardust Read-Along, Movie Edition

Remember that Stardust Read-Along we were doing for Once Upon a Time?  Well, today is a kind of bonus post, doing a comparison to the movie version.

If you’ve been following along, you know that I really enjoyed Part One, then found myself with serious issues in Part Two.  I enjoyed the book…but!  I loved reading everyone else’s thoughts, and I found it so fascinating how other people drew such wonderful meaning, insight and complexity from plot elements that just didn’t speak to me.

I stand by my opinion–but I love the complexities other people saw too.  And with that divergence in thought, I suspect I’m going to be an outlier on my opinion of the movie too!

So I know it wasn’t as complex.  I know it was much more conventional.  I know it didn’t have the same depth of insight.  But you guys?  It just made me happy watching it.

The story is essentially the same: bumbling Tristan (who lost an R somewhere!) quests through Faerie with a fallen Star named Yvaine, while they’re being pursued by a nasty witch and a couple of ruthless princes.

I felt like the movie gave us that character growth and developing romance that I thought was lacking in the book.  It was mostly just little moments here and quick conversations there (which was all I ever really wanted in the book) but it was enough.  I could see Tristan learning from Yvaine and from the other people he was meeting.  And I could see Yvaine falling for Tristan–in delightful fashion.  Maybe it’s cheesy for a star to shine when she’s happy…but I thought it was a fun character device, and one that was used effectively.

I enjoyed the villains as well.  I love that the ghosts of the murdered Stormhold brothers hang around for the whole movie, and I love that there was a final confrontation with the villains.  Yes, yes, it’s much more conventional–but it was satisfying.

The movie doesn’t have the same airy, gossamer magic of the book, and not quite the same mysterious fascination or touches of darkness.  On the other hand, there was so much that was funny or clever.

At the end of the day, I fully acknowledge that Gaiman’s book is attempting to tell a story that is far more complex and impressive–but it just didn’t quite work for me (obviously it worked for other people!)  The movie’s goals were lower, but (for me!) it succeeded much more at what it was trying to do.

I would definitely recommend the movie if you haven’t read the book.  If you have…well, that might be a bit more complicated!

About cherylmahoney

I'm a book review blogger and Fantasy writer. I have published three novels, The Wanderers; The Storyteller and Her Sisters; and The People the Fairies Forget. All can be found on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. In my day job, I'm the Marketing Specialist for Yolo Hospice. Find me on Twitter (@MarvelousTales) and GoodReads (MarvelousTales).
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5 Responses to Stardust Read-Along, Movie Edition

  1. Deb Atwood says:

    Interesting! I thought most people would find the movie too low-brow, but I enjoyed it as well. The movie was more fun, and as you all say, the other characters have more of a story in the movie. I love the transvestite captain–definitely not in the book. And I enjoyed watching the witch pursue her narrative arc in the movie.

    Still, I had not problems with the book, but, yes, I think I liked the movie more.

  2. dianem57 says:

    Did Gaiman have much input on the screenplay? If he didn’t, I wonder if that’s one reason the book and movie diverge so much. Also, I think it’s just hard to transfer a good, complex story to the screen. There’s so much more freedom to explore themes in a book – movied have time and visual limitations.

  3. So you know-I have just now caught up on your book thoughts as well, and I basically agree with all your complaints. I also started out really loving this book and ended up totally disenchanted. I may even be a bit less enchanted than you ended up, partly because I saw the film first and was looking forward to a lot of things that….didn’t happen. I may have been more open to that if I hadn’t had expectations. My heart belongs to the movie. How can you not love a movie where even all the problems they had where things needed to become outtakes equal a huge heft of healthy snark? Plus, I felt the movie really gave Septimus a more nuanced character than the book did. He gets to showcase his practicality and resourcefulness and somehow hints at all the things he learned because of his environment and he could have been a strong ruler in some alternate universe with an alternative upbringing. When evil just takes care of itself like in the book it also negates the potential empathy factor that makes villains intriguing to me and makes them feel less nuanced and complex.

    Moreover, the movie gave everyone further growth. There will be more growing stories like this through their children and those inspired by their story instead of just Yvaine reigning forever. The brothers were ready to learn to live with each other, finally! Victoria even got to learn a lesson with her beau at the end! My point is, it’s not just the action or cliches that were satisfying. These other, important elements of potential and ongoing growth gave the movie not only more closure but, for me, a more complex and positive outlook on life.

    • Oh good, someone else who sees where I’m coming from on this one! 🙂 I think it would be very difficult going from the movie to the book–as you said, there are so many delightful things in the movie that just aren’t in the book (and the other way around…but I feel like the lack is less jarring going the other direction).

      Love your observations on all the things the movie has to offer. I appreciate the poignancy of the book’s ending–but also the positive ending of the movie. And I loved all the characters’ growth–now that you point it out, you’re right, it’s not just Tristan and Yvaine, it’s really everyone! While mercy and forgiveness are lovely things, I did enjoy that Victoria got some comeuppance in the movie…

      “When evil just takes care of itself like in the book it also negates the potential empathy factor that makes villains intriguing to me and makes them feel less nuanced and complex.” Great point as well! I also felt like it negated the need for the hero. I’m a peace-loving soul, but I do think heroic qualities like courage, strength of will, or trust in one’s comrades all are tested and come into sharp relief when pitted against something. To have the villains self-destruct negates Trist(r)an and Yvaine’s growth. I love that the movie had them actually USE these new qualities they had gained.

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