BEWARE! SPOILERS!! IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK OR SEEN THE MOVIE, THE PLOT *WILL* BE SPOILED FOR YOU IF YOU READ ON! DON’T SAY I DIDN’T WARN YOU.
Well, doing something a little different here. I personally love the movie “Stardust”. I can watch that movie over and over. Because of this, I found the book “Stardust” by Neil Gaiman in the library and borrowed it. I’ve only read one other book by Gaiman, “Neverwhere”, and it was excellent. DH and I have seen the movie “Mirror Mask”, which was very odd to say the least, but I’ve never read the book, which is also by Gaiman.
Anyhow, I thought I would give the book a try and see how it compared to the movie and which I liked best.
If you’re not familiar with “Stardust” or just don’t remember it, here’s the movie poster:
Basically, the premise is this – a dying king of a magical land challenges his murderous sons that whoever finds the magical necklace will become the next ruler of Stormhold. So he tosses this necklace into the sky, where it hits a star, and “she” falls to earth. Elsewhere, in *our* mundane world, a young man and his “lady love”, a girl who really doesn’t like him, witnesses the star falling to earth, and he promises to prove his love by bringing this star back to her. So he crosses over to the “magical land of Faerie” and has all kinds of cool adventures.
First of all, I just want to say as a fellow author, Gaiman’s prose is to die for. LOVED and enjoyed the way the man puts his words together.
Here’s how the book differs from the movie. It opens telling the story of the main character’s father, as it does in the movie. However, he doesn’t go to some town, he goes to the “bazaar” that’s held every 9 years in the meadow beyond the crumbled wall, where he meets the slave girl, has a good time, and nine months later, is presented with a baby boy.
Now, the movie makes it seem like the dad is a widower or has no wife. In fact, in the book, he was married and also had a daughter. Also, the boy’s name is “Tristran”, not “Tristan” as it is in the movie. I suppose he *could* have been “Tristran” in the movie – I’ll have to watch it again, but I could have sworn they called him “Tristan”. Hmm, why change that?
When Tristran goes into the land of Faerie, he meets a small, furry man who helps him on his journey and gives him the Babylon candle. In the movie, he was given the Babylon candle by his mother, as it was “included” in the cradle he’d been found in when baby Tristan was left on his father’s porch step. Also, the book explains why it’s called a Babylon candle – from a nursery rhyme – mentioning that mere “harmless” nursery rhymes in our world hold great power in Faerie.
One of the biggest changes the movie made was to have the crew of the flying ship “expect” their captain to beat up and throw Tristan overboard. Also in the movie, Robert DeNiro plays a – for lack of a better word – fruitcake. There was none of this in the book. They were accepted into the crew, and even healed of their wounds. There was no dancing love scene in the book as there was on the deck of the ship, but I suppose the movie wanted to flesh out the “love” between Yvaine the star and Tristan a bit more. I thought it odd, however, that this was such an obvious change. Perhaps the movie writers felt the movie needed some brevity? I dunno. I did love how the movie portrayed DeNiro’s character, however, so it was a good change in my opinion.
Another of the big changes the movie made was that there is no Big Bad Fight With the Big Bad Witch in the book. In the movie, Yvaine is kidnapped and taken back to the witches’ castle and Tristan and his true mother must rescue her while fighting the animated corpse of the last dead murderous prince of the dying sovereign at the beginning of the story.
This never happens in the book.
In the book, when Yvaine realizes she loves Tristran, she’s given him her heart, rendering her heart “useless” to the old witch for the use of making her young and beautiful again. The witch admits the star is a good person, and I assume goes on her merry way, perhaps to finally die from old age. I liked the movie’s climactic ending better. For all the evil the witch did in the book, I felt this ending was too trite to fit her character. Also, the sisters were only mentioned one time in the book and never revisited.
The ghost prince brothers do make an appearance in the book, just as in the movie. However, they aren’t as funny as in the movie, they are merely watching over their brothers, to see who kills whom to become the next ruler of Stormhold. In the movie, they’re great with their banter.
All in all, despite Gaiman’s lovely prose, I have to say I like the movie better. Yvaine never confesses to Tristan she loves him when he’s a mouse, and they never make love in the book. Of course, being a romance writer, that seemed oddly left out, seen as how there *was* a sex scene for Tristran’s father in the beginning. I didn’t believe their love in the book like I did in the movie. It was better executed in the movie. Also, Yvaine never “shone” when she was happy, like she did in the movie. Gaiman portrays that she does shine at times, but I never got the impression that she did when she was happy.
Also, at the very end of the book, Tristran eventually ages and dies, leaving the star behind to rule Stormhold, because she never ages. Does she die? Can she die? Who knows. I found this very sad, as I do so love my HEA, and the movie gave me that HEA at the end, alluding to the fact that both Tristan and Yvaine returned to the sky together as stars. I know, I’m a sap. But to me, I hate tragic endings.
I did enjoy the book immensely, however I think I’d rather watch the movie. But that’s just me. This is one instance, for me anyway, where the movie is better than the book.