Friday, August 10, 2007

So what did you think of Stardust?

(Spoilers included) (photo copyright Paramount Pictures)

Several of our editors saw Stardust tonight, and I doubt that we will all be in accord. For my own part, I began the movie skeptical - much of the charm of the book was lost, such as the beautiful transformations and witty enlivenings of old rhymes ("How many miles to Babylon?" or "The lion and the unicorn"). I began skeptical, but the movie won me over before long - with its wit, its swashbuckling flair, its wild balancing act between outrageous humor and poignancy. The half hour aboard ship that was added entirely out of nowhere - certainly not out of the book - is a perfect example: the poignancy of the star dancing on deck, shining gloriously with the heat of love in her heart, and the wild humor of Robert DeNiro as Captain Shakespeare, dancing in a frilly dress. DeNiro looked as though he was loving the part. There were so many wonderful scene-stealing moments, witty lines, and dashes of imagination. The lightning-ship spreading its net-wings is an image I will not soon forget. I can forgive the film for leaving out the dwarf, the rhymes, and for adding an extended battle in the witches' house and take the film for what it is: a different rendition of the fairy tale than the book was: extravagant, dashing, humorous, fun. Perhaps not as profound as the book - but the movie had me slapping my knee and laughing so hard and had my adrenaline rushing fast enough at other moments, that I didn't really mind. All that really irritated me was the voiceover at the start: that was a bit much. It takes a rare director to pull off a successful voiceover. This one didn't.

Some of my fellow editors at Dante's Heart will probably loathe the film (I already know what one in particular will say). I don't. I was too touched by the way the star began to glow and burn as she danced with her love on the deck of a ship sailing thousands of feet over the earth in a moonlit sky. It may be that I have given in, lowered my expectations of Hollywood, and traded (at least for this one evening) a priceless diamond for a gaudier gem, but ah! how that gem shines in the candlelight! The Stardust film has seduced me, and though the flaws of the film are glaring and pretty atrocious, and though I am sure some of the critics, at least, will slaughter the movie with their pens, I have to admit without embarrassment that I have not had this much fun at the cinema in a long time. This fairy tale, Stardust: go see it.

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