Stranded In The Southland

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Stardust, Book vs. Movie

Okay, so I've ranted about this before, but you only occasionally find a movie that can better the original book. For better or worse, I've found another.

I was delighted with Stardust when I saw it in the theater. It's a perfectly wonderful fairytale, even if the director of the film admits on the DVD that it's a bit of fluff. There really isn't anything world-changing in there; you're not going to emerge from the theater as a different person, but it sure is a pleasant, fun, flick.

I enjoyed it so much that I netflixed the DVD and watched it again. And again. And then I borrowed the book from the library, read it through, and watched the DVD yet again. Yow, for a bit of fluff, it certainly was pleasant.

After the film, though, the book was a bit of a disappointment. Neil Gaiman is a huge fan and critical favorite, but he just doesn't do it for me. He's a decent enough writer, and an okay prose stylist, I guess, and I was delighted to read the additional details about the world of Wall and Faerie in the book.

But, when push came to shove, I thought that the folks who came up with the script for the movie did a fantastic job of snipping out the useless bits and coalescing the whole thing down into a two-hour flick. The parts they snipped (the long journey through Faerie and Tristan's step-mom and the specifics of freeing up his real mom), could easily go, and the parts they added were pretty much solid.

I was, in the end, not very pleased with the films tweaks to make Robert De Niro as a fey, cross-dressing pirate -- I thought he could've been just as charming without being so far out there, but most of the rest was pretty darn inspired. It cleaned up the plot in almost every case (although has did Septimus figure out to go to the Wall? And where did Sal's wagon go after Tristan took the horse?), and just made it all flow better.

All in all, I'm almost more impressed by the screenwriters than by the original writer.