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Stardust is a 2007 romantic adventure fantasy film directed by Matthew Vaughn and co-written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Based on Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel of the same name, the film features an ensemble cast led by Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Robert De Niro, with narration by Ian McKellen.

Stardust
Stardust promo poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatthew Vaughn
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onStardust
by Neil Gaiman
Starring
Narrated byIan McKellen
Music byIlan Eshkeri
CinematographyBen Davis
Edited byJon Harris
Production
company
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • 10 August 2007 (2007-08-10) (United States)
  • 19 October 2007 (2007-10-19) (United Kingdom)
Running time
127 minutes[1]
Country
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
Budget$70-88.5 million[2][3]
Box office$137 million[4]

The film follows Tristan, a young man from the fictional town of Wall in Great Britain. Wall is a town on the border of the magical fantasy kingdom of Stormhold. Tristan enters the magical world to collect a fallen star to give to his crush Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. He collects the star who, to his surprise, is a woman named Yvaine. Witches and the Princes of Stormhold are also hunting for Yvaine. Meanwhile, Tristan tries to get her back to Wall with him before Victoria's birthday, the deadline of her offer.

The film was released to positive reviews and grossed $137 million on a $70-88.5 million budget.[4] In 2008, it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.[5] Stardust was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD on December 18, 2007.

Contents

PlotEdit

The English village of Wall lies near a stone wall that is the border with the magical kingdom of Stormhold. A guard is constantly posted at a break in the wall to prevent anyone from crossing. Dunstan Thorne crosses over the wall and into the Wall Market. There, he meets an enslaved princess named Una, who offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.

Eighteen years later, the dying King of Stormhold throws a ruby into the sky, decreeing that his successor will be the first of his fratricidal sons to recover it. The gem hits a star, they fall together, and the remaining sons, Primus and Septimus, independently search for the now clear gem.

In Wall, Tristan sees the star fall and vows to retrieve it for the object of his infatuation, Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. Tristan learns that his mother is from beyond the wall, and receives a Babylon candle that she had left for him, which instantly takes the user to any desired location. Tristan lights it and is transported to the fallen star, personified as a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He promptly chains her to take her home to Victoria.

Three ancient witch sisters in Stormhold resolve to eat the fallen star's heart to recover their youth and replenish their powers. Their leader, Lamia, eats the remnants of an earlier star's heart, and sets off to find Yvaine. She conjures up a wayside inn as a trap.

Yvaine becomes tired, so Tristan chains her to a tree and promises to bring food. In his absence, a unicorn releases her, but unwittingly takes her to Lamia's inn. Tristan discovers Yvaine gone, but the stars whisper that she is in danger, telling him to get on a passing coach, which happens to be Primus'. At the inn, they interrupt Lamia's attempt to kill Yvaine. Lamia kills Primus, but Tristan and Yvaine use the Babylon candle to escape into the clouds, where they are captured by pirates in a flying ship. The leader, Captain Shakespeare, befriends Tristan and Yvaine, teaching Tristan how to fence and Yvaine how to dance.

Septimus discovers that, as the last surviving son, he needs only find the stone to claim the throne. He learns it is in the possession of the fallen star and realizes that the heart of a star grants immortality.

After leaving Captain Shakespeare's ship, Tristan and Yvaine confess their love for one another and spend the night together at an inn. Come morning, Tristan leaves Yvaine sleeping and goes to Wall with a lock of her hair, to tell Victoria he will not marry her, having fallen in love with Yvaine. When the lock turns to stardust, he realizes Yvaine will die if she crosses the wall, and rushes back to save her.

Yvaine finds Tristan gone, and starts walking towards the wall, thinking he has abandoned her for Victoria. Tristan's mother Una notices Yvaine walking to her doom, so she takes the caravan of her enslaver, a witch named Ditchwater Sal, to the wall to stop her. Lamia arrives, kills Sal, and captures Una and Yvaine, taking them to the witches' castle. Septimus and Tristan both pursue Lamia, agreeing to work together for the time being. Barging into the castle, Septimus recognises the princess as his long lost sister and Una informs Tristan that she is his mother.

Septimus and Tristan kill two of the witches, but Lamia uses a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and make his corpse fight Tristan. Lamia is about to finish Tristan off, when she appears to break down over the loss of her sisters. Lamia frees Yvaine, but her feigned defeat was just a ruse to bolster Yvaine's broken heart, and she tries to kill them both. As Tristan and Yvaine embrace, their love allows her to shine once again, vaporising Lamia in a blinding flash of starlight.

Tristan retrieves the jewel that Yvaine was wearing. As the jewel turns red, Una explains that, as her son, Tristan is the last male heir of Stormhold. He becomes king with Yvaine as his queen while Dunstan and Una are reunited. After eighty years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where they live together forever as stars.

CastEdit

ProductionEdit

DevelopmentEdit

Stardust is an illustrated fantasy story created by Neil Gaiman, with art by Charles Vess. It was first published by DC Comics in 1997 as a prestige format four-issue comic mini-series. Encouraged by publisher Avon Gaiman decided to adapt Stardust and in 1999 it was republished as a conventional novel in hardback without illustrations. Gaiman has compared the story to a fantasy version of the 1934 romantic comedy film It Happened One Night.[6][7]

In 1998 Stardust was optioned for a film adaptation by Bob Weinstein at Miramax. Gaiman wrote a treatment, then Ehren Kruger wrote a treatment.[7] Gaiman described the process as "an unsatisfactory development period", and he recovered the rights after they expired. For years Gaiman refused offers to develop the film. Having seen the disappointing results of hands-off approach taken by Alan Moore, Gaiman preferred to retain control and to influence the development of the film.[8][9]

Eventually, discussions about a film version of Stardust began took place between Gaiman, with director Terry Gilliam and producer Matthew Vaughn. Gilliam dropped out following his involvement with The Brothers Grimm not wanting to do another fairytale. Vaughn left to produce Layer Cake but became the director for the first time on that project. After Vaughn withdrew from helming the film X-Men: The Last Stand talks resumed and in January 2005, Vaughn acquired the option to develop the film adaptation.[10] In October 2005, the director entered final negotiations with Paramount Pictures to direct and produce Stardust with a budget estimated at US$70 million.[11]

AdaptationEdit

The adapted screenplay was written by Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman who had been recommended by Gaiman.[9][7] When asked how the book inspired his vision for the film, Vaughn said that he wanted "to do Princess Bride with a Midnight Run overtone."[12] One of the difficulties with adapting the novel was its earnest and dark nature: an adult fairy tale in which sex and violence are presented unflinchingly. As a result of changes, the movie version has a greater element of whimsy and humour, with Gaiman's blessing given to the screenwriters. Gaiman did not want people to go to the theatre to see a film that attempted to be completely loyal to Stardust the book and failed.[13] After creating the audiobook version of the novel, Gaiman realised that there were 10½ hours of material in the book. This led him to acknowledge that the film would have to compress the novel, leaving out portions of the work. Budgetary concerns also factored into the adaptation, even with the level of 2006 technology.[8] The character Captain Shakespeare was expanded extensively from the novel, and the character Ferdy the Fence was created for the film.

Vaughn and Goldman decided that the witches needed names (as in the book they were collectively the Lilim and their names were lost beneath the sea); their Classical decisions included names also found in The Books of Magic (Empusa) and Neverwhere (Lamia).[14]

On the film's differences from the novel, Gaiman commented: "I sort of feel like my grounding in comics was actually very useful because in my head, that's just the Earth-Two version of Stardust. It's a parallel Earth version of Stardust, which has Robert De Niro and stuff. And I get people who come to the book from having loved the movie who are really disappointed at some of the stuff that isn't there that Matthew brought."[15] Responding to a fan's statement about preferring the film's climax compared to the book, Gaiman clarified that he in fact had suggested the different ending that the film ended up using, and liked it better for the film but liked the book ending better for the book.[16]

CastingEdit

In March 2006 the studio cast Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, and Sienna Miller. Production began in the United Kingdom and Iceland in April 2006, with the majority of filming taking place in the UK.[17] Vaughn himself picked Danes, Cox and Pfeiffer for their roles. He intended Captain Shakespeare to be played by either De Niro or Jack Nicholson. Stephen Fry was pitched as a possible Shakespeare, but Vaughn eventually picked De Niro.[18]

Vaughn insisted on an unknown actor for the part of Tristan.[12][18][19] Cox was tentatively cast as Tristan, but to ensure the leads had chemistry on screen Vaughn would not confirm the casting until both leads were cast. Vaughn had Cox audition alongside the prospective leading actresses until the female lead was cast.[19]

Sarah Michelle Gellar was offered the role of Yvaine but turned it down to spend more time with her husband.[20]

The role of Quintus was originally given to comedian Noel Fielding, but due to health issues he had to drop out and was replaced by fellow comedian Adam Buxton.[21]

FilmingEdit

 
Locations used in Scotland included the area surrounding the Quiraing, on the Isle of Skye.

The production started filming in mid-April 2006, with principal photography taking place at Pinewood Studios in London. Location filming started in Wester Ross, in the Scottish Highlands[22] followed immediately by filming on the Isle of Skye. The scene where Prince Septimus consults the soothsayer was shot in Iceland.[23] The film makers had wanted to use more locations in Iceland but were unable to get the horses they needed.[24][7]

Several weeks of location filming also took place in the woods and the Golden Valley near Ashridge Business school, Hertfordshire in the village of Little Gaddesden in June and July.[25] In mid-2006, there was some filming at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire and in the village of Castle Combe, Wiltshire. Some of the scenes requiring wide open spaces for riding and coach scenes were filmed at Bicester Airfield in Oxfordshire.

Another film location was on Elm Hill in Norwich. The area, with a mixture of Tudor and medieval buildings dating as far back as the 11th century, was transformed into the streets of Stormhold. The Briton's Arms tea house became the Slaughtered Prince public house.[26] The owners were so enthralled with the new look, including a spectacular mural and new thatching, that they appealed to the local council and English Heritage to keep it, but their request was refused. Filming also took place in Wales, at the Brecon Beacons National Park.[27][28]

The design of the witches' lair was inspired by the Hall of Mirrors in the palace of Versaille, France, but with black instead of white and silver instead of gold.[12]

Filming was finished by 13 July 2006.[25]

Visual effectsEdit

The film required 830 visual effects (VFX) shots which were supervised by Peter Chiang and produced by Tim Field. Double Negative supervised 350 shots, and other work was shared out among six other companies including LipSync Post, Cinesite, The Senate, Baseblack, Machine and Rushes. Mattes & Miniatures provided miniatures. The pirate skyship set was shot against a 360 degree greenscreen, required fully CG backgrounds and digital extending the size and the bow of the ship. Some distance shots of ship were entirely CG. Yvaine required a star glow effect for more than eighty shots.[29][30] Two of the witches required a signature magical effect, Lamia had a green fire effect created using a combination of particle animation and joint-driven soft body ribbons, and Sal had a black smoke effect, created by turning animated geometry into a target-driven fluid simulation. The age transformation of Lamia was achieve using composite of multiple motion control plates, including a pass in the full prosthetic makeup, the transformed youthful Lamia, and a pass where the hair was pulled though a dummy head, played in reverse to give the appearance of hair growing, composited and blended with a procedural glow effect. Twenty feet of The Wall was built on location as a practical effect and extended into the distance using digit painting. VFX were completed by February 2007.[29]

MusicEdit

ReceptionEdit

Pre-releaseEdit

Stardust was well received by test audiences. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura was surprised when the film was well received across all demographics, despite the film not having been designed for everyone, expecting instead for parts of the audience to feel the film wasn't for them. In their feedback audiences agreed it was not a fairytale, giving various descriptions of it, such as an adventure with magical elements.[36] A March release had been planned but when Paramount saw its commercial potential it was pushed back to a later date.[12]

Box officeEdit

Stardust was released on 10 August 2007 in the United States in 2,540 theatres, opening at #4 and earning US$9,169,779 in its opening weekend (an average of $3,610 per theatre). The film also opened the same day in Russia and the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States, earning $8,118,263 as of 14 October 2007. In the UK and Ireland, the film was released on 19 October 2007 and spent 8 weeks in the box office top ten.[37] Stardust was blocked from a release in China due additional restrictions on foreign films on top of the existing quota system limiting non-Chinese films.[38]

Stardust has earned a total of $137,022,245 worldwide.[4] Its biggest markets were the US, where it made $38 million, and the UK, where it made $31 million (approximately £19.5 million GBP).

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film was judged "Certified Fresh" given 76% rating, based on reviews from 191 critics. The critics' consensus reads: "A faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of whimsy, action, and off-kilter humor of Neil Gaiman, Stardust juggles multiple genres and tones to create a fantastical experience."[39] On Metacritic the film has a score of 66/100 based on 33 reviews.[40] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade "A-" on scale of A to F.[41]

Roger Ebert called it a "fun" movie and gave it a positive rating of 2.5 out of 4 stars, he criticised the pacing as being cluttered and unfocused, and concluded "It's a film you enjoy in pieces, but the jigsaw never gets solved."[42] The New Yorker's Bruce Diones called it "more surprising and effective than the usual kiddie-matinée madness."[43] John Anderson of Variety wrote: "Sprinkled with tongue-in-cheek humor, fairly adult jokes and some well-known faces acting very silly, this adventure story should have particular appeal to fans of "The Princess Bride," but in any event will never be mistaken for a strictly-for-kids movie." Anderson praised Pfeiffer for her comedic timing, and calls De Niro's performance "as engrossing as a car crash". He says the romance is the least interesting part of the film, but the sweep of the story and the humor keep the film together.[44] Stephen Holden of The New York Times wrote: "Michelle Pfeiffer is Lamia, as deliciously evil a witch as the movies have ever invented" and suggested she should be the center of the film. Holden says Danes is miscast, and describes De Niro's performance as "either a piece of inspired madcap fun or an excruciating embarrassment."[45] Michael Dwyer of The Irish Times describes the film as "diverting in its whimsical way, but burdened with nonsequiturs, and it ought to have been subjected to more rigorous pruning in the editing suite." Dwyer criticizes the unsubtle jarring self-indulgent cameos of Gervais and De Niro, and says Danes is miscast. He praises Pfeiffer saying she gives the film "the kiss of life".[46] Dan Jolin of Empire magazine called it "Patchy but great fun, peppering plenty of black humour into a sweet if silly fairy-tale romance."[47] Glenn Kenny of Premiere called it "an eye-poppingly elaborate fantasy that's shot through with action-movie adrenaline and attitude."[48] Time Out London compared the film to Time Bandits or The Princess Bride "but it lacks the former’s originality and the latter’s heart."[49] Tim Robey of The Telegraph wrote: "There's a shameless romantic streak here, quite welcome in a boy-targeted genre that usually insists battles are cool and love is for wimps."[50]

Philip French of The Observer said the film "fails on every level" and referring to a scene with Robert De Niro said it "plumbs new depths of camp embarrassment."[51] Deborah Ross of The Spectator called the film "a grindingly familiar huge pile of nothing which may please six-year-olds and fantasy nerds, but that's about it."[52]

AccoladesEdit

Associated Press film critic David Germain named the film the No. 7 best film of 2007.[53] Rule the World was also submitted for consideration at the 80th Academy Awards for Best Original Song but was not nominated.[54]

Award Category Recipient Result
34th Annual Saturn Awards 2008[55] Best Fantasy Film Stardust Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Costume Sammy Sheldon
Empire Awards 2008[56] Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Stardust Won
GLAAD Media Awards 2008 Outstanding Film - Wide Release Stardust Won
Hugo Awards 2008[5] Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Jane Goldman (written by),
Matthew Vaughn (written by/director),
Neil Gaiman (based on the novel by),
Charles Vess (illustrated by)
Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 2007[57] Overlooked Film Of The Year Stardust Won

Home mediaEdit

The film was released on both Region 1 DVD and HD DVD on 18 December 2007. The DVD was released in both Fullscreen and Widescreen aspect ratios.[58] The HD DVD and DVD special features include a documentary entitled Good Omens: The Making of Stardust[59]; deleted scenes from the film; the film's blooper reel; and the film's theatrical trailer.

The film and special features on the HD DVD version are presented in 2.35:1 widescreen high definition 1080p and feature a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio soundtrack.[60]

The film was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc (Canada and US) on 7 September 2010.[61]

SequelEdit

Vaughn had an idea for Stardust 2 but the first film was not financially successful enough.[62]

LegacyEdit

On the 10th Anniversary of the film's release Vanity Fair interviewed Charlie Cox, who is frequently recognized by fans for the role early in his career. Cox is unsure why the film is so popular but notes that Vaughn wanted to make a film with broad appeal, and Goldman did a great job cutting out extraneous detail, and on the heart of the story. Vanity Fair notes that the film gets replayed frequently in syndication and describes it as "endlessly likable", with a great cast, special effects that aren't too dated, and "the best adaptation of Gaiman’s work, capturing his unique blend of darkness and whimsy perfectly."[63][6]

Vaughn was critical of the marketing of the film, saying it had been promoted like it was Lord of the Rings when it had been much more influenced by The Princess Bride. He noted that although the film didn't do well in cinemas it became an "evergreen title" on DVD.[64]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Stardust (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 July 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  2. ^ "Stardust (2007)". Box Office Mojo. 20 August 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2017. Production Budget: $70 million
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  5. ^ a b "2008 Hugo Award Results Announced". World Science Fiction Society. 9 August 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
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  9. ^ a b Adams, Sam (5 August 2007). "All of a sudden, his fantasies are turning to reality". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 11 August 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  10. ^ Adam Dawtrey (16 January 2005). "Vaughn pushes ahead with 'U.N.C.L.E.' feature". Variety. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  11. ^ "'Stardust' Author Neil Gaiman Tells Why He Turns Down Most Adaptations – But Not This One". MTV. 10 August 2007. Retrieved 14 February 2008.
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  13. ^ Anthony Breznican (30 July 2007). "Storyteller Gaiman wishes upon a star". USA Today. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 27 September 2007. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
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  16. ^ Gaiman, Neil (30 June 2019). "The official Neil Gaiman Tumblr". Tumblr.com. Retrieved 30 June 2019. I like the end of the film much better for a film. It was why I suggested it. On the other hand, I like the end of the book much better for the book.
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  19. ^ a b Mark Olsen (5 August 2007). "'Stardust' gave him the space to grow. A fanciful tale with a big-name cast offered a test for Charlie Cox". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
  20. ^ "Sarah Michelle Gellar Turned Down 'Stardust' Role For Her Husband". Archived from the original on 13 November 2007. Retrieved 24 July 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  21. ^ Gaiman, Neil (9 September 2006). "Stardust News..." Neil Gaiman's Journal.
  22. ^ "Highland films screened at Cannes". BBC.co.uk. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 3 September 2007.
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  24. ^ Good Omens: The Making of Stardust. 13 minutes in.
  25. ^ a b "OLV INTERNATIONAL Road Trip: The Enchanting Locations of Stardust". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 28 September 2007.
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  28. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20110525205739/http://www.shropshirestar.com/latest/2006/10/31/powys-backdrop-for-de-niro/
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  30. ^ "LipSync gives Stardust a healthy glow - News". Digital Arts. IDG. 13 August 2007.
  31. ^ Take That
  32. ^ Ilan Eshkeri's Stardust: A Film Score Guide
  33. ^ Gary Barlow
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  38. ^ Frater, Patrick (6 December 2007). "China sets 3 month ban on U.S. films". Variety.
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  42. ^ Roger Ebert (10 August 2007). "Stardust". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
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  44. ^ Anderson, John (1 August 2007). "Stardust". Variety.
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  47. ^ Dan Jolin (28 September 2007). "Stardust". Empire.
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  51. ^ Philip French (21 October 2007). "Stardust". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  52. ^ Deborah Ross (17 October 2007). "Familiar fantasy". The Spectator.
  53. ^ David Germain; Christy Lemire (27 December 2007). "'No Country for Old Men' earns nod from AP critics". Associated Press. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008 – via Columbia Daily Tribune.
  54. ^ Kay, Jeremy (12 December 2007). "Academy unveils 56 songs eligible for original song Oscar". ScreenDaily.com.
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  57. ^ "Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 2007". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  58. ^ "Stardust (R1) in December – New artwork". DVD Times. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  59. ^ Jon Mefford (Director). Stardust: Good Omens - The Making of Stardust.
  60. ^ "HD DVD Review: Stardust | High-Def Digest". Hddvd.highdefdigest.com. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  61. ^ "Amazon Blu-ray Disc listing". Amazon.com. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
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  63. ^ Jennifer Still (10 August 2017). "The Eternal Magic of Stardust, as Explained by Charlie Cox". Vanity Fair. Condé Nast.
  64. ^ Gary Collison (16 September 2017). "Exclusive: Matthew Vaughn on the cult status of Stardust". Flickering Myth.
    Matthew Vaughn on the cult status of Stardust. Flickering Myth. 16 September 2017 – via YouTube.

External linksEdit