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Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday Night is Movie Night - Stardust

So let me tell you a little story about this post.  Egg likes to help.  He's not very good at it.  Last Friday night, I started working on a movie post and, all the sudden like,  he jumped up on my desk, standing on the keyboard.  I thought perhaps he would like to sit behind me like he often does, so I got up to get a nice terrycloth bathrobe to put on the back of the chair for him.  I must have moved suddenly or breathed because he freaked and dashed off the desk, but not before knocking my mouse on the floor.  I bent over to pick it up and when I looked back at the screen, my post was gone.  At this point it was 11:30 and I wasn't about to try to recreate the post.  I tired doing everything and anything, but nothing would bring it back.  I was mad at him and refused to give him chin rubs.  The next day I was on the computer and went into my history posts and lo and behold!  There was my post as a draft!  I don't know how that happened or what he hit on his way off the desk, but I was soooo relieved.  And now, I get to share those thoughts with you.

Now on to movie magic.

 Well, it appears Stardust is on heavy rotation on Showtime, so I have had the pleasure of being able to watch snippets here and there as I'm doing other things, like working out on the elliptical.

I should warn you, though, that I am one of those people that even though I have the DVD, I will watch it every time I see it on TV and if I don't happen to catch it from the beginning, I won't pull out my DVD. I'll just watch the movie from where ever I tuned in.

Stardust is one of those stories that I have been intimate with for a long time. It is adapted from a Neil Gaiman story and he is quite the spinner of tales. Now, I'm trying to think of which came first. Was it Sandman I was first aware of or was it Books of Magic. It was probably Sandman and we're going back almost 20 years. It was about the time I became aware of Charles Vess as an illustrator. Any collaboration between Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess is a happy marriage as their work complements each other so well.

The story has been released as a comic series, book and finally as a movie...and magnets.  For any of you not overly familiar with Neil Gaiman's work, if you like fairy tales, this is a good place to start.

The story opens up with a flashback of Dunstan Thorn. He lives in the English countryside in a quiet little town next to the Wall. The Wall is guarded so that no one can cross over into the Faerie Realm, but Dunstan crosses over, has a fling and 9 months later a bouncing baby boy is left on his doorstep with a note naming him Tristan.

Tristan grows up not knowing his origins. He works in a shop and pines after the local beauty, Victoria, who is being courted by another man. Victoria is selfish and manipulative and plays Tristan like an old guitar until he declares his love for her, but she tells him Humphrey is going to propose. When Tristan sees a falling star, he declares he will go fetch the star and bring it back to Victoria if she would agree to marry him.

So off he goes in search of a star. The only trouble is it has fallen on the other side of the Wall and there is a guard between him and it. He tries to sneak past, but is prevented from crossing. Dejected he returns home and explains the whole sorry mess to his father who tells him where he came from and gives Tristan the items left in his basket on the doorstep when he was a mere babe. One gift is a Babylon candle which is the fastest way to travel. He wishes to find the star.

On the other side of the Wall, the king of Stormhold is dying. He has 7 sons and one daughter. The daughter has been missing these many a year and four of the brothers are already dead. The king takes a stone from around his neck, a beautiful blood red stone. As he holds it, the color drains leaving it clear. He tells them whichever son finds the stone and returns it to its blood red color will be the next king of Stormhold. He then sends the stone away.

The two stories intertwine when the stone knocks a star out of the heavens and Tristan comes across the star in the shape of a human girl named Yvaine. He binds her with a magic chain which was also in his basket and explains that he is taking her back to Victoria as a gift. As they make their way across Stormhold to head back across the Wall, their paths cross with the brothers who are searching for the stone. Enter in a third element of an old hag, one of three sisters, looking for the star so they can feast on her heart to regain their youth.

It's a perilous journey with enemies around every corner and with every step taken closer to Wall, Tristan finds that he is further and further away from Victoria, but closer to Yvaine. The brothers are a murderous lot who back stab, literally, to attain the prize of a crown, but a new level of danger is added when Septimus (the most evil and conniving of the brothers) learns of the star and starts plotting how he can eat the heart of the star (which bestows immortality) and rule as king forever.

Then you've got pirates, a unicorn, dueling witches, shape changing and the story is damn near perfect.  Charlie Cox is perfect as Tristan and Claire Danes as Yvaine, although, sometimes it looks like she has no eyebrows.  Michelle Pfeiffer is awesome and horrifying as Lamia (the evil witch hunting Yvaine) and Robert De Niro is comical as the pirate, Captain Shakespeare, who's a bit of a whoopsie.

You can draw comparisons to The Princess Bride, but all in all, if you like good, light-hearted fantasies, you probably can't do a lot better than this. 

Have fun at the movies!

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