Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Tristran Thorn will do anything to win the cold heart of beautiful Victoria Forester—even fetch her the star they watch fall from the night sky. But to do so, he must enter the unexplored lands on the other side of the ancient wall that gives their tiny village its name. Beyond that stone barrier, Tristran learns, lies Faerie . . . and the most exhilarating adventure of the young man’s life.

When the film version came out in 2007, I was absolutely captivated by it. At the time, I hadn’t even heard of Neil Gaiman, nor was I aware that this movie was based on a novel. I just loved it and spent the next five years recommending it to everyone and their brother.

Now, I don’t really like reading books after I’ve seen them made into a film (if I didn’t read them first). But I knew I had to make an exception for Stardust.

Previously, I gave my opinion on novels and film adaptations. In short, I don’t think it’s fair to say that one is better than the other. They are two completely different beasts. What sounds good on paper often doesn’t translate well at all to the screen.

I must say though, in this case, I preferred the film.

Sacrilege, I know.

Which isn’t to say I didn’t like the book. I did. It was the perfectly Neil Gaiman mash-up of humor, quirk, and drama. In the book, the feeling of this-is-not-a-kids-book-but-isn’t-it is even more pronounced. There’s a sex scene. People say fuck. But somehow the rest of the book reads like a fairytale.

Oh Neil, you clever bastard.

I liked that Victoria was a lot less heartless in the novel. She kind of almost seems like a real person instead of just a crazy caricature.

I don’t usually do this, but I just need to talk about my feelings, okay? So, SPOILERS.


What the hell was up with that dead unicorn scene? It was so gruesome I had to keep reading, but then after I was like, ohmygod my heart hurts now, I need to go hug my horse.

Also, the ending was kind of lame. It was kind of cute in its own way. “No, I gave my heart to someone else already so you can’t have it, okay bye.” WHAT. NO.

Epic battle scene. Please and thanks.

The witch really just gave up? Really? REALLY?!

Then Tristran (why is there another r guys?) and Yvaine are all like, we’re gonna go adventure around now, have fun ruling the kingdom Una. See you in thirty years.

And then Una and Tristran’s dad aren’t together. WHAT. If Una was his heart’s desire, isn’t he also hers? Depressing.

I think I want this to be too much like a fairytale. Which is not the Gaiman MO at all.

And then the whole thing where Yvaine can’t cross the wall otherwise she’ll turn into a star (rock)? Not even an issue. “Oh good thing you didn’t cross the wall cause you would have died. No drama whatsoever. Yay!” NO.

And then Tristran dies. And Yvaine is stuck on earth, living forever, and being sad.

I think the last fifty pages of the book were just kind of a bummer.

Also, where was my Robert De Niro cross-dressing, flying ship captain?

Good job filmmakers. You win this round.

Also, Neil Gaiman prob wrote the screenplay.

So why didn’t you just write the book like that?




15 thoughts on “Stardust

  1. I can definitely see why the book would be a letdown if you saw the movie first, because the movie was just so awesome, but I’ll admit that I really enjoy both, probably because I read the book first, really liked it,and then saw the movie and was blown away by it. I think they’re very different things, but they both seem to tell fundamentally the same story, and I think for me that’s why I relished the changes rather than wanted to punch the writers through the nearest wall.
    That and cross-dressing flying pirate ship captain Robert DeNiro.

  2. I don’t think it’s necessarily sacrilege to like a movie better than a book. Both the movie and the book are an artist’s take on a story, and although books usually come first, there’s no reason why movies can’t be better. The internet is probably going to burn me for saying this, but I *way* prefer the LOTR movies to the books. I’m sorry, but as beautifully written as the books are, they drag on and on and on and I prefer the books 100%. That’s not to say the books aren’t masterpieces. I just like the movies better 😀

  3. I had the opposite reaction, I prefered the book to the movie. I think that this is a fairy tale but a not a fairy tale feeling the book gives and that everything doesn’t end up perfect, which I think the movie aimed for. To me the movie was too perfect and the book was a blend of fairy tale and real life,

    1. I can see your point there. The movie is too perfect. But it also does the thing I greatly enjoy in movies—pulling pieces from every which way to bring it all together which makes me say, “I see what you did there, but I didn’t see you doing it!”

  4. Wow . . . I almost did not post, because I can’t add anything, only subtract. I did not like the movie. It was yet another instance of the premise promising more than the movie delivered. I have not read the book either, but the differences (additions and subtractions) you mention go a little way to explain the disjointed feel of the movie (De Niro’s character was so out of place in the movie that I should have realized it was an addition)

    I liked neither characters, liked the actors even less, and so it made it difficult to like the movie, or be interested in what happens to them. I did like Lamia, but I don’t think I was supposed to.

    I originally watched this movie because it was listed as one of those “If you like Princess Bride . . . “. Both my wife and I felt we were grossly mislead. Perhaps our expectations were too high.

    But, tastes differ. I’m still surprised when I come across people who don’t like Joe Versus the Volcano, but I’ve learned not to judge them too harshly. Now, if they don’t like Firefly, that’s a whole other matter.

    1. Still have yet to sit down and watch Firefly. I like The Princess Bride, but a whole lot of people think it’s the greatest movie ever. Which I don’t haha.

      1. Princess Bride has the same problem, to a certain extent. The last third of the movie seems a case of “now we got here, what do we do?”

        And really, Andre the Giant made that movie for me.

        From the standpoint of seeing an excellent example of story telling and character development, I think you should make the effort to watch Firefly. The first few episodes are standard adventure stuff (still good), but then it really comes into its own.

        The impressive thing with that show is the dialogue . . . and the premise . . . and the action . . . and the plots . . . and the characters . . . music, props, supporting characters, sets . . . need I go on?

      2. Yes, I have heard of the awesomeness…I’ve never heard someone who didn’t like it haha…just trying to finish some other shows before I get to it…a person can only watch so much tv at a time

      3. Not to be overly judgmental, but that’s a bit like saying “I need to finish reading these magazine articles before I tackle the Classics”.

        My humble opinion, of course.

      4. Hmmm . . . was trying to be funny, but that came off harsh and a bit like badgering.

        Sorry, not my intention. You can delete the comment, or leave it up there so that people will see what a jerk I am sometimes.

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