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stardust Stardust
Directed by:
Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Sienna Miller, Peter O'Toole, Rupert Everett, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

September 24, 2007

The movie written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn and directed by Matthew Vaughn is a delicious adventure fantasy for all ages.  It is, in a way, similar to Harry Potter adventures, except that the characters are older and the magic is more subtle and even the nasty characters are likeable. 


The movie was based on a series of small novels written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess.  It chronicles the adventures of a young man in the nineteenth century England. The movie stays true to the original story as much as possible given the differences in the two medium.  Some names have been changed and new characters have been created by the storyline has not changed much.

This romantic fantasy happens in the nineteenth century and is about the magical kingdom of Stormhold which lies just outside a wall in a town called the Wall in England.  There is a guard on duty, day and night, to prevent the people from crossing over to the other side.  In a way, it is similar to the Harry Potter stories of a magical city within another city.

There are actually two stories in this movie that intertwine.  The first story is about a young man, Dunstan, who crosses the Wall and enters the fairy town of Stormhold.   There, he meets the beautiful lusty princess Una (Kate Magowan) who has been abducted by the witch Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill) and is made into her slave.  Una is actually the daughter of the King of Stormhold.  The princess makes love to Dunstan that night and sends him on his way back across the wall into his own town of Wall.  Nine months later, a baby boy which is the fruit of their union is delivered to Dunstan on his doorstep.  The boy had already been named Tristan by her mother.

Second part of the story.  Fast forward 18 years and Tristan is now a grown lad in love with Victoria who is the town beauty.  His rival is a bully named Humphrey who does not tire of antagonizing the gentle Tristan. 

Meanwhile, back in Stormhold, the king, played by Peter O’Toole, is close to death.  He has five killer sons left who are eager to murder each other to win the kingdom.  He also has his daughter Una who has been kidnapped and enslaved by the witch.  The kingdom must go to a direct male descendent.  So, in desperation, the king, tears off his magical ruby pendant from around his neck and throws it into the sky.  The ruby hits a star and causes it to crash into the earth in a fiery flame.  Just before dying, the king tells his sons that whoever finds the ruby pendant will be the king.  

The five remaining brothers embark on the quest to find the ruby, and manage to kill each other along the way until only one, Septimus (Mark Strong) is left. 

There are also three old witches who have also seen the falling star and know that if they capture the star, which is really a beautiful girl, and cut her heart out while she is still alive, they could live forever. One of the sisters, Lamia played by Michelle Pfeifer, uses the last of their magic potions to make herself strong and beautiful again and starts looking for the fallen star. 

In the meantime, Tristan, to impress his girl friend Victoria and win her hand in marriage, also decides to join the search and present the star to the girl.

The three seekers of the star, the king’s sons, the witch Lamia and the young Tristan embark on their perilous journey.  Tristan is the first to find her since he uses the magical Babylon Candle that her mother had stowed in his cot. The candle allows a person to travel long distances with the speed of light.

Tristan is surprised to see that the star is actually a beautiful girl called Yvaine, played by Clare Danes.  Nevertheless, he decides to take her as booty for his girl friend.

While he is taking Yvaine back to his village to present her to his girl, his path crosses the princes and the witch Lamia.  They also meet a cross dressing space Pirate, Captain Shakespeare, played by Robert DeNiro. 

One of the craziest scenes in the movie is where the pirates battle prince Septimus’ men.  While this is going on, Captain Shakespeare, oblivious to all,  fully made up as a woman and dressed in corsets, is dancing away merrily in his quarters.  That hilarious scene alone is worth the price of admission.  It was difficult to remember that this was the same man who played Don Corleone in the second Godfather movie! 

Soon, Tristan and Yvaine fall in love and they make love. 

The final battle is between the three witches, who have captured the beautiful star Yvaine, on the one hand, and the last remaining prince, Septimus and the hero of the story Tristan on the other hand.

This movie is lavishly and lushly made with beautiful scenery and wonderful special effects.  The coloring by cinematographer, Ben Davis, is wonderfully bright and pleasing. 

The director, Matthew Vaughn has managed to select a good team of actors for this project.  Even David Kelly as the ancient guard was well cast. Nathaniel Parker of the Inspector Lynley fame played the grown up Dunstan.  Beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer courageously plays the ugly witch.  We said courageously because no woman, especially a Hollywood actress would want to look that ugly throughout most of the movie. 

There was an innocent kind of freshness about the way Clare Danes portrayed Yvaine.  We found Sienna Miller very sexually attractive and perfect for her role as a rather childish girl who has been told how beautiful she is all her life. 

Peter O’Toole, had only a few minutes on the screen, but as usual he shone.  And, of course, Robert DeNiro.  What a wonderful performance. 

The movie has a few violent moments.  Several killings and implied poisoning. By today’s standards, there are no sex scenes. 

We recommend this movie wholeheartedly.  starstarstar

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