I'm sure you've had the experience when a book you've read is made into a movie. You go with such high expectations, only to have them dashed on the rocks of reality. I've had several happenstances when the movie was almost as good as the book, but never vice-versa.
Then, earlier this week, the equilibrium of the theory of "Written Works Translated into Filmed Projects are Never Thusly Equal" was exploded into a million shards.
I read "Stardust."
I never even knew it was a book until it said something about it at the end of the movie. The movie was absolutely awesome. My thoughts were along this line: "Holy cow! If the movie is this good, think of how astounding the book is!" Not so. The book was boring, too complex and yet too simple, too flat, and not nearly as clever as the movie.
On the other hand, "Stardust" is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. A star falls and Tristan Thorne, the protagonist and resident moron until 3/4 of the movie is done, vows to go get it for Victoria if she'll marry him. She says "sure," and he prepares to go over the wall that divides his world from the forbidden world of Stormhold (or Faerie as it's called in the book.)
Anyhow, he finds the star, which is actually a PMSy chick by the name of Yvaine. He chains her up with this magical chain thing and drags her towards his hometown of Wall. Meanwhile, the 81st Lord of Stormhold has died and now his sons have to duke it out over the crown. Apparently the real Lord of Stormhold is supposed to find this necklace proves that he's to be the next heir or something like that. Meanwhile MEANWHILE, these gross witches (Michelle Pfeiffer) want to find the star so's they can rip out her heart and eat it to have eternal youth.
The main plot in the book and movie is the same, but the little details are what make it. For instance, there's a lot more character development in the movie than in the book, which is rare in and of itself. When Yvaine and Tristan hook up at the end in the book, it makes absolutely no sense. Not so in the movie.
AND THE END BATTLE BETWEEN TRISTAN AND MICHELLE PFEIFFER IS COMPLETELY CUT OUT IN THE BOOK! There's no amazing voodoo battle between one of the contenders for Stormhold and Tristan; there's no rioting from the sacrifice animals; there's no shiny-explodingness from Yvaine!
But the thing that broke my heart more than anything was that there was no Captain Shakespeare. There was no metro-sexual pirate who hides his affinity for dresses and styling hair behind a fierce no-mercy pirate front. I laughed until my abs started crying, it was so funny. He offers Yvaine a dress from his closet and when she declines he says, "Honey, you're wearing a bathrobe." Later, he explains his name. "See, when my men think 'Shakespeare' they think 'SHAKE-SPEAR!' But I think of an Elizabethan writer with a clever command of the English language." And the part where he draws a heart on his cheek and is prancing around with the fan....! *giggles* It's priceless.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is why I must applaud Hollywood for the magic worked. They've messed up a lot of other books, but they actually improved "Stardust." Bravo.