As Hutcheon suggested in “A Theory of Adaptation”, a film is vulnerable to simplification and “pruning”. This was exemplified in the Stardust movie, directed by Matthew Vaughn. I enjoyed the movie, but I found the omission of book characters and certain plot points disappointing.Although these omissions were understandable (as it would be impossible to depict every single detail from the book) I felt that it took away from the depth of the plot.I also felt that these simplifications took away from fully depicting all of the overarching themes from the book. For example, the movie did a great job depicting the theme of love, but did not fully do justice in portraying other themes such as Freedom and Confinement and breaking the norms and rules of society. When referring to Tristan’s Father in the book, the story of how he fell in love with a girl from Faerie yet still married the girl selected by societal expectations depicted the theme of the pressures to conform to societal norms. This story line, however, was omitted from the movie.
I felt that the Stardust movie gave me a romanticized and one-dimensional perspective on the story, where as when reading the book, I was able to approach a passage through multiple critical approaches. I also felt that the movie was adapted to a younger audience and was made to feel less scary and left out gruesome details. For example, I visualized the witches being more scary, cunning and evil in the book but in the movie, they seemed comical to me. In the book, the star breaks her leg, but in the movie, she only injures it, and there is a lot less blood shown in the movie. At the end of the movie, Tristan reunites with both his mother and father and after reining 80 years in faerie with the star he joins the star in the universe. But in the book, it is a lot less of “fairy tale ending” with Tristan leaving his family for the star to live in Faerie. With these changes I was interested in understanding the perspective and motivation Matthew Vaughn, the director of Stardust, had when making the movie. Matthew Vaughn stated in interview with Indie London that he wanted to make the movie because he “loved the book and I wanted to do something that I could share with my family, my kids and my wife and also do something different. It just felt like a natural thing to do”. Click here for the link to the interview. Because Vaughn wanted to make the movie family friendly, it makes a sense that he omitted some of the complex themes and gruesome details.
A lot of these changes could have also been made to garner more commercial appeal. If this is so, do we, as a society, prefer a more romanticized fairy tale version of a story, even if it is not reality? When I looked on Rotten Tomatoes, it had an average film rating of 6.7/10. Do you think that the movie was on oversimplification of the book? Did you like the changes made in the movie, or did you prefer the book more?