Few books are improved upon once they become films. It is the book lover’s lament; films rarely live up to our expectations. Beloved characters are twisted, plot lines ignored or changed as to be unrecognizable. Sometimes, if you love a book enough, watching a poor Hollywood adaptation can be painful. Now sometimes I break my own rule and see the movie long before the book finds its way to me. On most of those occasions, I find the book to still be infinitely better than the film. Gives me more insight into the characters, gives me more adventures that had to be left out of the movie. Stardust was one of those few books however that was actually better as a film.
Stardust is the story of Tristran Thorn who grows up in a town called Wall, so named for the wall that the townspeople guard between reality and Faerie. In love with the town’s beauty who expects to marry much better than a shop-boy, Tristran promises to cross the wall and bring her back a fallen star they saw. However, surprisingly, the fallen star is a person, Yvaine and is less than enthusiastic about being given as a wedding present. However, witches are hunting the fallen star, so sticking together, Yvaine start their journey back to Wall. It involves witches and pirates and homicidal princes. Fun times all around.
So, I adore this film and have since I first saw it in the theaters. Reading the book this week, I find the casting spot on, the story enchanting and the quirky characters added or augmented from the book to be just right. Quite frankly, the characters are more likable and better developed in the film than in the book. Tristran and Yvaine in the book are sort of tedious and I wasn’t quite sure if they ever even liked each other, even once they were together. They also don’t seem to grow as much in the book or they grow and it’s unbelievable. This was one relationship that needed some Hollywood finessing to make me care what happened to them. Bonus, the pirate captain is ten times cooler in the film than in the book – making him more eccentric and important in the film was a good call for all the characters.
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Most of the major plotlines were in both book and film but the witches were less frightening in the book, rather a letdown after the awesome battle scene you get in the film. They just sort of fade away in the book; Yvaine even kisses one goodbye. Also, the king storyline in the book wasn’t as interesting. I liked how the film made the ghostly princes a touch of comic relief and there resolution was also much more clear in the film than in the book.
The book was just a lot…less than the film if that makes sense. Gaiman’s writing is always engaging and quirky so Stardust is fun to read but it’s not as much fun as the film.