Stardust (2007 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew Vaughn|
by Neil Gaiman
|Narrated by||Ian McKellen|
|Music by||Ilan Eshkeri|
|Edited by||Jon Harris|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$135.6 million|
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, Jason Flemyng, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, Ricky Gervais, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Peter O’Toole, with narration by Ian McKellen.
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 $135.6 million on a $70 million budget. In 2008, it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form. Stardust was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD on December 18, 2007.
The magical kingdom of Stormhold is surrounded by a stone wall, through a gap in which lies the fictional English village of Wall. Dunstan Thorn goes through the guarded gap and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss followed by an invitation into her caravan. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, named 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 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, who teach Tristan how to fence.
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. 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 80 years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where Tristan also becomes a star and the pair live forever in the sky.
- Claire Danes as Yvaine, the Fallen Star
- Charlie Cox as Tristan Thorn
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia
- Mark Strong as Prince Septimus
- Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare of the Caspartine
- Jason Flemyng as Prince Primus
- Rupert Everett as Prince Secundus
- Kate Magowan as Princess Una
- Ricky Gervais as Ferdiland "Ferdy" the Fence
- Peter O'Toole as the dying King of Stormhold
- Joanna Scanlan as Mormo, Lamia's sister
- Sarah Alexander as Empusa, Lamia's other sister
- Mark Heap as Prince Tertius
- Julian Rhind-Tutt as the ghost of Prince Quartus
- Adam Buxton as the ghost of Prince Quintus
- David Walliams as the ghost of Prince Sextus
- Nathaniel Parker as Dunstan Thorn
- Ben Barnes as a young Dunstan Thorn
- Sienna Miller as Victoria Forester
- Henry Cavill as Humphrey
- David Kelly as the Wall Guard
- Melanie Hill as Ditchwater Sal
- Mark Williams as Billy, the Goat converted into human form
- Jake Curran as Bernard
- Olivia Grant as Bernard's female form
- George Innes as the Soothsayer
- Dexter Fletcher as the Skinny Pirate
- Eliot (Coco) Sumner as Ingrid, Yvaine's sister
- Mark Burns as the Last Bishop
- Ian McKellen as the Narrator
The 1998 fantasy novel Stardust by Neil Gaiman was first optioned for a film adaptation by Miramax in 1998–99. According to Gaiman, the film went "through an unsatisfactory development period", and he recovered the rights after they expired.
Eventually, discussions about a film version of Stardust began taking place between Gaiman, director Terry Gilliam and Matthew Vaughn. After Gilliam dropped out following his involvement with The Brothers Grimm, Vaughn left the talks to direct Layer Cake. Gaiman and Vaughn resumed talks after the director walked away from helming the film X-Men: The Last Stand and in January 2005, Vaughn acquired the option to develop the film adaptation. In October 2005, the director entered final negotiations with Paramount Pictures to direct and produce Stardust with a budget estimated at US$70 million.
The adapted screenplay was written by Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman. 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." 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. 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.
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).
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."
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. 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.
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.
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 followed immediately by filming on the Isle of Skye. Some parts of the film were also shot in Iceland.
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. 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. 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 was finished by 13 July 2006.
- After watching an early cut, English pop band Take That wrote and recorded a song for the film titled "Rule the World", featuring Gary Barlow on lead vocals. The song features in the end credits to the film and was released as a single on 22 October 2007 in the UK where it peaked at number two on the UK Singles Chart.
- US record label Decca Records released a soundtrack album featuring Ilan Eshkeri's score on 11 September 2007, but "Rule the World" was not included.
- Dimmu Borgir's song "Eradication Instincts Defined" is featured in both the UK and US trailers.
- Prelude 2 in C Minor from the first book of the "Well-Tempered Clavier" by Johann Sebastian Bach was adapted for use in the first part of the scene at Lamia's Inn.
- Slavonic Dances, Op. 46, No. 6 in D Major by Antonín Dvořák was adapted for use for the dancing scene aboard the flying ship.
- "The Infernal Galop" from Jacques Offenbach's "Orpheus in the Underworld", more commonly known as the "Can-can", plays during the fight between Captain Shakespeare's men and Septimus's men on board the sky vessel.
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.
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.
Stardust has earned a total of $135,553,760 worldwide. Its biggest markets were the US, where it made $38 million, and the UK, where it made $31 million (approximately £19.5 million GBP).
The film rates 66/100 at the movie review aggregator Metacritic based on 33 reviews. On another aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes, the film was judged "certified fresh" given 76% rating, based on reviews from 186 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."
Associated Press film critic David Germain named the film the No. 7 best film of 2007. The New Yorker's Bruce Diones called it "more surprising and effective than the usual kiddie-matinée madness." While 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. Philip French of The Observer asserted that the film "fails on every level and plumbs new depths of camp embarrassment."
|34th Annual Saturn Awards 2008||Best Fantasy Film||Stardust||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Michelle Pfeiffer|
|Best Costume||Sammy Sheldon|
|Empire Awards 2008||Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy||Stardust||Won|
|GLAAD Media Awards 2008||Outstanding Film - Wide Release||Stardust||Won|
|Hugo Awards 2008||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||Overlooked Film Of The Year||Stardust||Won|
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. The HD DVD and DVD special features include a documentary entitled Good Omens: The Making of Stardust; deleted scenes from the film; the film's blooper reel; and the film's theatrical trailer.
The film was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc (Canada and US) on 7 September 2010.
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Production Budget: $70 million
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