A Movie that is better than its Book

It is a fact widely accepted and acknowledged that a book will always be better than a movie.

I normally hold to this statement with my fingers tightly grasping the pages of said book daring anyone to tell me differently.  Books are always better!

Well…I have found that exception to the rule.

The other night a group of friends and I were enjoying one of those rare evenings in the middle of the week when all motivation for the chores that ought to be done are out weighed by the exhaustion of the day and so the only logical thing to do is invite friends over for a movie and ice cream. (It is the simple pleasures in life…)

After going through all of my movies twice we settled on one of my favorites, Stardust.

And if you didn’t know, Stardust is based off of a book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess.  The book is a sad sort of romance, which has been classified as an adult fairytale, with beautiful artwork that is both whimsical and grim.  I suppose I am not selling the book very well, but if you have read anything by Gaiman, I am paying the book a pleasant compliment. The original story, published in 1997, is almost a graphic novel with all the artwork but is not in the traditional comicbook style.  It was later published as a full length novel in 2000. (I’ll be honest I have only read the 1997 version).  I loved the book; it was everything that I have come to love about Gaiman – witty, magical, cleverly twisting the normal perceptions of characters and fairytales,and ever so slightly grimm.

But as Melissa and I started talking (aka analyzing the movie), we realized that even though we liked the book; the movie was better. Let me clarify: There are aspects of the movie that are better, with more fully realized characters and action. We both agreed that the film’s adaptation with the lightening pirates was much better than the brief mention of the flying merchant ship.  The pirates added an element to the film that made that part of the story come alive.  The flying ship was such an interesting part of the world of Stormhold that it was a shame that it was so overlooked in the book.  The pirates are entertaining and are the catalyst that makes Tristan (a rather pathetic boy) a young man worth the affection of the lovely star. I think Captain Shakespeare, though a little on the whoopsie side of things, is one of the best characters in the movie.

The added scenes with the pirates don’t distract from the story or ruin the nature of the main characters, which is what normally happens when a director wants to “improve” upon the book.   The film took all the best parts of the book and gave them life and vivacity while overlooking the worst parts of the book.  I think one of the reasons the movie turned out so well is because Neil Gaiman was a producer.  This is the third time through with the story and the screenwriters along with Gaiman understood what would work best on the screen and what should be left out.

So, for once, I will say that even if you don’t read the book (which I would generally recommend) at least watch the movie.  Stardust is one of those stories that reminds you that Faerie really is on the other side of the Wall and sometimes wishing on a falling star will bring you more luck than you expected.

A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really… “Do the stars gaze back?” Now *that’s* a question.

~Don’t forget to check out Brian’s new book Waverly Hall


About LizzyBeth

There is a Story inside of me that I must give a voice. I write so that imagination can take me to Faerie and I can catch a glimpse of the Otherworld and hopefully so will you.

Posted on July 8, 2011, in Authors, Book Review, Fairytales, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Movie Reviews, Neil Gaiman, Rachel Burkholder and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’ve never read either of the book adaptations, and I don’t think my wife has, either, but the movie is one of our favorites, too. It is one of a few that grace our DVD library.

  2. And with all due respect to “realistic” book endings, the complete and joyous happiness at the end of the movie totally trumps the bittersweet (emphasis on “bitter”) of the book!

  3. The only exception to the general rule I can think of is the earlier film version of Robert Bolt’s play THE MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. If these are the only exceptions that prove the rule, than I think the general principle of the superiority of the book is pretty sound.

  4. I also think “The Princess Bride” is an exception to the rule. The movie is much better that the book in my opinion. Oh an “Stand By Me” based on the short story by Stephen King (“Bones”) is a fantastic book adaptation! Gotta love River Phoenix ❤

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