First off, I have to admit I had no idea the movie Stardust was based on a book when I picked it up. There is nothing on the cover of the DVD that indicates this was, in fact, based on a book, unless you get your magnifying glass out and look carefully in the small script on the bottom of the back cover, where it mentions, "Based on the novel written by Neil Gaiman".
Stardust the book reminds me of the original fairy tales: dark and grim in some aspects, sugary sweet in others. Stardust the movie personifies the Disney adaptations of the fairy tales: glossed over on context, but a lot of fun.
The Basic Plot (Book and Film):
Tristran/Tristan sets out to find a fallen star to give to his lady love, Victoria. Little does he know, others are pursuing the very same star he is searching for, for a variety of reasons.
Where the Film Plot Differs:
Tristran in the book has a stepmother and sister, and his name is Tristran, not Tristan. Quite a few of the book characters are sacrificed to make for a quicker plot, including Tristran's traveling companion the little strange man. The airship captain, known as Johannes Alberic in the book, was flamboya-tized to make the excellent character of Captain Shakespeare, played by Robert De Niro. Their time on the airship was also lengthened to give the movie a bit more suspense. Tristan in the movie has one week to bring back the star, while it felt like Tristran in the book took quite some time wandering through the land beyond the Wall. Tristan gets a makeover in the movie, but only gets a change of clothes that bring out the change in his appearance in the book.
The rest of the differences happen so late in the movie I won't cover them here, but I will say the endings and the tones of the book and the film vary greatly.
A lot of the things I noticed were changed to save on CGI and the cost of a good makeup/costume person. For example, Tristran's mother in the book had purple-y eyes and black cat ears, signifying she had some Faerie blood. In the movie, I couldn't really tell if she had purple eyes, but I could see she didn't have cat ears. Tristan's odd looking travel companion was also scrapped to shorten the film, but I have a feeling they would've needed a good makeup artist to
One dramatic change from the book they didn't skimp on was making the dead princes look like they appeared when they died- I don't remember reading them described as anything other than gray, shadowy figures, but maybe I skimmed over that part. The movie also has one of the princes bleeding blue blood, instead of red blood as the book had it (I'm being purposefully ambiguous so as to not spoil people). When I first watched the movie, I was confused by this- had he been poisoned? Was the knife wielded toxic? It was only when I watched it the second time that I realized blue blood = royal. Duh.
One question every book fan has on their minds is: Will the actors and actresses actually do justice to the characters? In this case, I have to say yes, the actors and actresses did a wonderful job of bringing the characters to life, even adding to some of them. Even though Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays Lamia (the witch after the star) is blonde instead of dark-haired, as the book would have her, she makes a fantastic witch. Tristan (played by Charlie Cox) was exactly how I pictured him to be when reading the book, as well as Yvaine, played by Claire Danes. Robert De Niro made a very convincing closeted airship captain, so much so I missed the expanded character of "Captain Shakespeare" while reading the book.
Which Should I Experience First?: Book
Which is Better?: Both of them are excellent, for different reasons. Stardust the movie is more fun, and possibly more cheesy. Although Stardust the book has its Hallmark moments of cheddar, it is laced with a much darker tone because of certain aspects I cannot reveal without spoiling.
Will I Like the Book If I've Watched the Movie?: Based on my experience, I'd say yes, although one of my Goodreads friends enjoyed the movie more (because of the great acting). If you like fairy tales, you really can't go wrong by reading it.
Will I Like the Movie If I've Read the Book?: I think so, as long as you aren't distressed by the lack of certain characters and scenes, the cutback on violence, and small increase in sensuality. The ending for the movie is different, which might make some people happier with it.
Film Length: 127 minutes, roughly 2 hours
Book Length: 248 pages, maybe 4-5 hours of reading time.
Film Rating/Content: PG-13 for fantasy violence and risque humor
Book Content: I rated it Ages 16+ due to an increase in violence and gore, and a glossed over sex scene.