Book to Film: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

There's nothing like a little fantasy book to escape the every day dreariness. 

But for a young boy named Tristran, stepping into the magical realm is nothing but a birth right. To gain his heart's desire, Tristran Thorn crossed over from Wall to Faerie in search of a falling star and what awaited him as he reached it turned out to be a feisty pale haired girl. Together they found themselves falling into treacherous paths of magical adventures.

Stardust is a dark fairy tale, with a hint of savagery as on nature’s way and a splash of fate’s subtle cruelty. The story is narrated in a straightforward manner seeped with downright irony and bleakness, the kind which leaves a lingering taste. It is a tale that won’t leave you satisfied and contented, no, it will leave you restless, pondering and searching. 

As the story, like most stories, starts in a small village with the hero being his awkward unappealing self, I cannot wait (as what happens a lot on my fantasy readings) for him to get over to fairy land and become slightly a man. The weaving of magical elements entail some things to be unexplained as if Tristran's journey is but a passing thing in fairy land (What is the fellowship about? What of the acorn that will grow into an oak that will be made into a cradle to slay the Lilim?). But I guess it’s how journeys leave us, with more questions than answers. We could not get back to people we've met along the way. 

This is the first book I read of Neil Gaiman and his version of fantasy or fairy tale has got some bite to it indeed. There's something raw and rough-around-the-edges about it. To borrow a passage in the book that aptly describes it all to me, "It is something to which I have given much thought, but about which I have come to no conclusions."

Stardust was released as a summer blockbuster in 2007 with a rooster of popular cast playing supporting characters and an unfamiliar lead. But I definitely think it worked out well for Charlie Cox as Tristan Thorn (yes, they cut 'r' somewhere there) having a totally nerdy appearance in the beginning (and the fact that his face is yet to be familiar we have less clues of what he can pull off) because the element of surprise when he was made over was just brilliant. 

Now with others, it was equally fun to watch them. Michelle Pfeiffer as the vampy witch? Oh yeah, I could tell she was enjoying her performance (especially that sultry wink in the mirror) and Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare sealed the whole deal (cue the Can-Can song). Capt Shakespeare wasn't in the book and how sad is that? But I don't think he would fit there anyway.

I loved the film! It was a bunch of every thing you'd like in a fairy tale, all together. There's such a huge humor on it, poignant romance to fill our hearts, the fights scenes quite cool, and the scenery and costumes were fantastic. The Lords of Stormhold, ghosts and live men, were great scene-stealers, the actors playing them read like a 'who's who' of Britain. Septimus, played by Mark Strong, is cutting out a very fine dark figure.

The screenplay is well-written, wrapping up nicely and giving everyone whatever they deserved in the end. It geared more for the 'happily ever after' route, almost literally. In the end, I am left feeling lighthearted and contented, with a definite conclusion.

Book Summary:

Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest. (see)

Book Title: Stardust

Author: Neil Gaiman
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Romance
Published: 2006 Paperback 
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ♨♨♨  (4 cups - A dark fairy tale without the fluff. The title, although magical enough, is like a double-edged sword. Strangely enough, I feel more the detached presence of the narrator, indifferent to the fates of the characters. But as a work of Neil Gaiman, well worth the read.)

Film Title: Stardust
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Robert De Niro
Release Date: 2007
Rating ♨♨♨♨♨ ( 5 cups - A solid fantasy film with everything you could expect of a good fairy tale with endearing characters, magic, romance, adventure, fighting and humor. Captain Shakespeare is enough not to miss this one out.)

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