Stardust: Book or Movie?

StardustMovieAs you know, Stainless Steel Droppings recently hosted a read along for Neil Gaiman’s Stardust (Part I, Part II). With that complete, some of us thought it would be fun to watch the movie and do a comparison post of the two. What follows are my babblings. There are spoilers with rude manners and no sense of when to keep themselves to themselves. You have been warned.

I love how the movie start’s with a kid’s letter questioning the stars’ interest in Earthly affairs. it really sets the whole mood for the book. Small English town, science still young and full of wonder, magic still roaming free in some parts of the world. The book took a little longer to grasp me in this way; we had to explore the market before I got the sense of magic like I do with just the opening scene of the movie. Add to that the dark humor that pervades the movie, and I am hooked.

StardustMoviePfeifferPart of the reason I was hooked right away is the costuming. Yes, this movie dressed to impress. When we explore the small village of Wall, folks dress rather simply. Lots of natural colors are used to give it that small town feel – like your grand auntie made your vest and your ma darned your socks. Then as we get to the market, crazy clothes, rich clothes, colorful clothes are everywhere. Next Stormhold – so proper yet with lots of small embellishments such as embroidery. Then the sister witches – at first all run down in clothing and hair. That scene with Lamia (the star-hunting witch) checking out her recently rejuvenated arse always gets a giggle from me.  The sky pirates, with their goggles, and Ferdy’s Office (the lightning buyer) with his crazy fuzzy hat. Each costume was well thought out in this movie, providing distinct edges to the characters.

StardustMovieGoatsBernard has been a side character that has intrigued me since I first saw the movie. We first meet him tending a goat as some woman, perhaps his mum, yells at him from inside the little house. You get the feeling that this happens far too often. Next thing, he is a goat, enchanted by Lamia to pull her little 2-goat chariot. Truly, who doesn’t want to see Michelle Pfeiffer in a gorgeous dress in a chariot being pulled by two goats? then later he is the captive of Septimus, the last Stormhold brother searching for the Stormhold jewel. He gets dragged off with Septimus and his men to finally confront the Sky Pirates! When that doesn’t go as planned, Septimus, all his men dead, takes Bernard’s horse, abandoning him there. Of course, he eyes the pirate ship and I have always hoped that Hollywood would see their way clear to making a film about Bernard and his adventures from that point forward.

The sky pirates, or lightning collectors, were a big change from the book. Oh, in the book we get roughly 6 pages of time in the air with some gentlemanly lightning rustlers. During that time, a lot is suppose to happen. This is an interesting topic of discussion in the read along if you want more on it. In the movie, we get the real sense of Tristran and Yvaine gaining life skills (piano, sword play, and dancing of course) and the first glimmers of them falling in love. Of course I love Robert Di Niro as Captain Shakespeare, a somewhat flamboyant, gay man in private who has to play it strong and straight for his crew. This of course offers a lesson about not being yourself later on in the movie. I really enjoy the sky pirates, with one caveat: the repeated references to sexual violence to women. Yes, it is done in a joking manner. No, the pirates aren’t ever seen harassing any women. Still, it is the only point throughout the movie where I get a little frowny face. This aspect was not in the book.

StardustMoviePirateThe final great thing that does it for me with this movie is that it has one of the best sword fights ever. Yes, I am talking about that scene at the end where Tristran must swordfight the already dead, broken, voodoo-drowned Septimus. The choreography for that scene must have been challenging to say the least. With a broken arm and leg, there was not the normal set of sword fight movements. I enjoy that scene every time.

While Una lacked kittycat ears, and there was no little hairy man to teach Tristran about crapping in the woods, and Dunstan went on to join Tristran and Una in the land of Fairie, I still greatly enjoy this movie for all it’s differences from the book. If anything, this one of those rare examples of a movie that I enjoy slightly more than the book.

 Now I will leave you with a few tidbits that made me laugh, quirk an eyebrow, or guffaw.

The innkeeper goat Billy was perfect! I have goats, and they rarely hold still, especially in a new environment or if something odd is going on. ‘Odd’ is defined by the panicked goat and could include a landing duck, a human with a wheelbarrow, or the sudden start of a sprinkler.

Remember that scene with Primus soaking in the tub and he sees the Stormhold jewel on Yvaine? But he stays in the tub, demanding she bring it to him. Really? Dude, if that was my stone, I would be up and out of that tub and across the room. But full frontal nudity probably would have gotten a different rating on this movie.

Una gives them a Babylon candle at the end of the movie. Of course, everyone else only gets to see an oblong box. She tells them it is for you both. Now this big affair is kind of like Tristran’s coronation and his announcement to the world of his commitment to Yvaine (wedding perhaps?). So, the little devil in me always snickers at this scene because everyone else, at least those with little devils of their own, are probably guessing, based on the shape of the box, that Una just gave them a ‘marriage saver’.

OnceUponATime7Some favorite quotes:

‘Murdered by pirates, heart cut out and eaten, meet Victoria. Can’t quite decide which would be worse.’

‘You look great. You’ve had your feet done.’

‘…You smell of pee and you look like the wrong end of a dog.’

‘You want to grow up and get over yourself.’

Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting the reading event Once Upon A Time, a celebration of all that is Fantasy. Come join us!

15 thoughts on “Stardust: Book or Movie?”

  1. I loved the book and the movie! I enjoyed how the endings diverged, i think it’s a great example of how some things that are written in a book can’t always translate to film (and vice versa).

    1. Both are great feel good entertainment. I love putting on the movie while taking care of some house chores and I love curling up with the book on a regular basis.

  2. I just watched this (and posted about it!) and I really enjoyed it. I loved the sky pirates, and Captain Shakespeare. So glad there was more of them in the movie! I also liked the message about being yourself – almost cheered, when Tristan dropped Victoria on her rear end. 😀

    1. I’ll try to swing by today and catch your post, but I have to be out and about later today, so might be a day or two. Cpt. Shakespeare was a great addition in the movie. I love how so many of the characters finally get to be themselves at the end of the movie.

  3. I actually also liked the movie more than the book. I read the book on a trip to Germany and was just a bit confused (it could have been the trip though) and was pretty convinced Gaiman was on something when writing that plot 😉 It’s a bit all over ya know? I liked that the movie cut out some of the more crazy bits and made a much more solid plot line. Did you get that feeling or should I blame the Germany trip?

    1. Part of me really wishes Gaiman would return to this world and write a sequel, or even prequel, tidying up some loose ends – like the Stormhold fellowship that the little hairy man & the sky captain belong to. But I don’t think he will. I can easily see why Hollywood streamlined much of it, and changed some of the ending majorly – to give a real feeling a finality.

      If you haven’t enjoyed other Gaiman, I would say try American Gods which does have a very concise plot and a great ending.

  4. It’s a tough call because I like both for different reasons but on balance I might say the film. That might actually be because in this instance I saw the film first?? Who knows. Both good though.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Yeah, they are great for different reasons. Of course, it takes like 6-7 hours to meander through the book, so the plotline can be more complicated. But I do so love all the visual stuff of the movie.

  5. Ah, such a fun movie, and I love your observations about the costumes. I was also quite happy with the lightning collectors/pirates…I kept wanting to call them pirates when I was writing about the book, and had to keep resisting!
    That first quote may be my favorite line. 🙂

    1. It is one of my favorite movies of all time. And yes, i kept wanting to call them Pirates too while discussing the book. I had to double check my discussion post to make sure I didn’t inadvertently refer to the movie while discussing the book-lightning collectors.

  6. I watched the film and then read the book. I prefer the film to be honest. It was fun and uplifting while the book left me with a bitter taste I’m afraid. I also couldn’t believe there was no Captain Shakespeare in the book!

Comments are always appreciated, so don't be shy!