Headline Publishing Group. 196 pages
I knew it was a bad idea to watch the movie FIRST and read the book Second. Especially for a masterpiece like Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. For once, I could say that both book and the movie are excellent. True, the movie changed a lot of details to the point of almost being an entirely different story–but it still retained that magical element.
The changes in characters are notably done for Hollywood/entertainment purposes (i.e, The simple Captain Johannes Alberic flowered into Robert de Niro’s Captain Shakespeare). There were also other characters omitted and added (the speaking tree was not in the movie. and I’m still not sure if the movie version’s Ferdy the Fence is the book’s (unamed) short brown man).
The book is undeniably more dark–I cried reading how the unicorn was killed! The movie overall has a lighter and more comedic aura–what with the zany characters, thereby dubbing itself as ‘the fairy tale that won’t behave’.
The movie also had to fully emphasize the battle between what’s good and evil–and the evil getting what it deserves in the end–so I guess this is why Michelle Pfieffer’s ‘Lamia’ (no name in the book) had to perish that way. When in the book she just became an old softie and even got a kiss on the cheek from Yvaine.
Speaking of Yvaine, a lot of people were not happy about Claire Danes playing the role of the beloved star. I can’t say I was happy or unsatisfied with her portrayal–there wasn’t much character depth in the book for me to make an idea of how Yvaine should be. (although Yvaine of the book is more fiesty and sharp-tongued than the almost submissive Yvaine of the movie) It’s all based in physical standards–someone ethereal definitely. Now Claire Danes may not have an ethereal and godly character but looks-wise, she makes an okay Yvaine. Her face reminds me of a young Cate Blanchett–the queen of all ethereal characters. But since Cate is far too mature to be Yvaine, Claire Danes was not a bad choice after all.
In my opinion though, the actress who could have done a more convincing character portraying a heavenly body would be the now unseen Leelee Sobieski.
Neil Gaiman openly shares that the character of the speaking tree (which was not in the movie) was after Tori Amos. In the acknowledgment part of the book, he thanks the singer-songwriter for lending him her house to write the first chapter of Stardust. In return, he turned her into a tree (because that was all she asked for).
These two geniuses are good friends and Tori Amos has also included Neil Gaiman in one of her songs:
“…. Neil said hi by the way….if you need me, me and Neil will be hanging out with the Dream King..”
–Tear in Your Hand from her 1992 Little Earthquakes album.
There is supposedly another song where she refers to ‘Neil’ but I don’t know which one it is.
Neil Gaiman and Tori Amos. Knowing they are friends just makes me giddy! 🙂
I know this is turning out to be more like a book-movie comparison, it’s really just so hard for me to focus on just the book when I have watched the movie (which I totally loved) first. I like them both equally, and there doesn’t have to be a better version.
Not to self: never again read books after watching the movie. the only time this was ‘effective’ was when i read Pearl Harbor–which was a novel adaptation of the movie, and not vice versa.
Charles Vess’ illustration of Yvaine for the illustrated book version of Stardust
The speaking tree and Tristran Thorn (whose name was changed to Tristan in the movie)
Tori Amos–the inspiration behind the speaking tree character
Neil Gaiman with Claire Danes (Yvaine) and Charlie Cox (Tristan)