Lives a woman true, and faire”
Does the director of the film keep the women “true and faire” to their roles in the book? The differing roles of female characters in Neil Gaiman’s original Stardust and the film adaptation of his creation is clear within the opening minutes of the film. Some characters Vaughn gets right on the money, while others I believe are altered to garner a better reaction from the audience.
I felt like Vaughn very accurately portrayed Tristan’s mother in the opening scene between her and Dunstan. Mysterious and seductive, Dunstan falls under her spell as he did in the book. Although the scene where Dunstan must return and hoot like an owl is omitted, the audience still gains the sense that the woman’s charm had a pull over Dunstan.
It appears Vaughn did not believe that Daisy Hempstock was significant enough to the plot to be casted in his adaptation of the story. Daisy’s absence withdraws the shocking revelation that Tristan did not come from the woman believed to be his mother, but instead was conceived unconventionally. The exclusion of Daisy twists the entire plot of the movie in comparison to the book, because Dunstan’s quest is double sided; while searching for the fallen star, he is also searching for his mother. Also, without the casting of Daisy, Tristan’s sister Louisa is not in the movie, thus giving Tristan no female guidance in his upbringing. Does this not change the way the audience could sympathize for Tristan’s subpar social/romantic life?
What of Victoria Forrester? In the movie she is showcased as a bratty girl who thinks of herself above others, and shows it. For example, she cuts in line at the shop to get her order filled by Tristan, whom she knows she can manipulate due to his infatuation with her. When they are enjoying their moonlit picnic that Tristan went to great lengths to plan, Tristan asks her to marry her, she says, ”People like me do not marry people like you,” clearly stuck up and drunk of her own beauty as much as the champagne. In the novel Victoria is described as Tristan’s friend when they were little, and friends with Tristan’s sister, Louisa. They had previously kissed three times, ”You kissed me when we were younger. You kissed me beneath the pledge-oak on your fifteenth birthday. And you kissed me last May Day behind your father’s cowshed” (Gaiman 44). However, in the film Victoria gives the aura that she wants, and has never wanted, anything to do with Tristan. I think Vaughn casted her this way to appeal to the audience in
I believe that Vaughn did not portray the witches in an accurate lighting. Throughout the book, the witches were described with a healthy sense of fear, revered by the creatures of Faerie within their ominous cottage dwelling. I felt that in the movie, the witches were almost a mockery, a tool used for comedic relief instead of having an aura of power, which I think Gaiman intended them to have. I imagined them to be like Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, but felt like Vaughn intended them to be the three witches from Hocus Pocus. Gaiman states that “The three women spoke little” but I watched it feeling that the women were constantly chomping at the bit to get their say in. The introductory passage in the novel left the reader with a sense of mystery about the witch-queens and their antics that differed from Vaughn’s version.
I have enjoyed the way that Yvaine was portrayed in the film. Just like the book, she was unfriendly towards Tristan at the beginning of their relationship. ”She gazed up at Tristan with a scowl of complete unfriendliness” (Gaiman 99). I felt like Vaughn was on the same page with Gaiman about her role in the tale, how she acts as one of the few independent women in the tale. Yvaine is not dependent on a man for survival, but would rather be relinquished from Tristan to survive on her own. I think it is important that the audience grasps the significance of a pure yet powerful female character in the story.
How do you think the portrayal of these female characters impacts the audiences viewing of the tale? What other differences did you believe were important?