Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stardust Memories

Stardust, the movie, is proof that a good movie adaptation of a book doesn't necessarily have to be  a faithful one.

The movie is adapted from the fantasy novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess.  (Incidentally, despite what some reviews have said, Stardust was not a graphic novel; although it was published by the Vertigo imprint of DC comics, it was an illustrated prose novel.  A graphic novel, or comic book, is one where the writing and illustrations alone could not tell the story.  But at least one edition of Stardust contained the novel without illustrations; and it succeeded in conveying the story.  That isn't a graphic novel.)  Although it's not Gaiman's first foray into movies (that would be either Princess Mononoke, for which he wrote the english adaptation of Hayao Miyazaki's script, or Mirrormask, for which he wrote the script), it is the first adaptation of one of his novels.  The film retains the essential story of the novel:  In a 19th-century English town that shares a party-wall with the land of Faery, a boy (Charlie Cox) promises the object of his affection that he will retrieve for her a falling star.  But while in our world a "falling star" would be an inert hunk of meteorite, in Faery -- where the star lands -- the star is an actual star, knocked from the heavens, who manifests as an attractive and highly-sarcastic young woman (Claire Danes).  Nonetheless, the boy lassoes her with a magic chain and tries to drag her back -- and adventures ensue.  Yet the movie takes several departures from the film.  In particular, it cuts out the bitterest of the bitter-sweet moments, such as the lasting scars both protagonists suffer from the mishaps that befall them.  And it adds a new sequence with sky pirates -- led by Robert Dinero, in one of the most unusual roles of his career -- who literally catch lightning in a bottle.

But the film ably captures the spirit of Gaiman's prose -- simultaneously taking the fairy-tale tropes of the story quite seriously, and yet drawing the humor from them.  The result is a marvelously entertaining night at the movies.

Stardust was doomed to a miniscule opening weekend by going head-to-head with the juggernaut that is the Rush Hour franchise.  But don't let the box-office numbers fool you.  Stardust is a reminder that fantasy films that feature neither hobbits, boy wizards, nor arachnid heroes can still delight.

Stardust - Official Movie Site

technorati tags:, , ,

Blogged with Flock

No comments: