STARRING: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro

2007, 130 Minutes, Directed by:
Matthew Vaughn

Stardust is a magical tale of witches, princes, magical realms and the mythical sleepy English village of Wall. For eons its cobblestone wall has protected the village from what lies just on the other side: the supernatural world Stormhold. Nobody ever crosses The Wall, but village hick Tristan (Charlie Cox) is determined to seek love, adventure, and stardust. Tristan faces dangerous competition for the magical powers of stardust. Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), the queen of the witches, wants to eat the stardust to achieve eternal youth and beauty. Delightfully ruthless prince Septimus (Mark Strong) wants the stardust to make him king. Tristan reaches the fallen star first and discovers it’s not stardust at all. It’s a young woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes).

As Tristran and Yvaine try to escape their evil pursuers, they fall in with pirate airship Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro). De Niro gives a delightful performance. British-born Charlie Cox had his first major Hollywood role playing Sienna Miller’s brother in Lasse Hallström’s romantic comedy Casanova. Sienna Miller also appears in Stardust, but as Charlie’s initial love interest. Cox is currently filming in the action-comedy Stone of Destiny, the story of bringing the Stone of Scone back to Scotland.

Claire Danes delivers a standout performance in her monologue to Tristan after he’s been turned into a mouse. “I knew it would be a real challenge to try to render a star as a human being, but it was definitely a fun one”, says Danes. Comic actor Ricky Gervais, of the British series The Office, is funny and lovable. He’s Ferdy the Fence, Captain Shakespeare’s shifty trader ready to buy and sell absolutely anything. Peter O’Toole is the king. His ruthlessly ambitious sons include Rupert Everett as Secondus and Jason Flemyng (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Primus. British actress Kate Magowan plays the witch’s captive Una. Although it’s great to have so much talent, fewer actors in the cast could have made room for more character development.

"There are inevitable comparisons to The Princess Bride, except Stardust is darker . . ."

To achieve an authentic supernatural look, Stardust was filmed in Scotland’s Isle of Skye and in Iceland. “Dramatic landscapes lend the story a series of tremendous backdrops as magical as the story”, says producer di Bonaventura (Transformers and 1408). The mythical village of Wall is actually parts of two medieval Cotswold villages. The Lake District village of Bibury, lined with natural stone cottages and described by the artist William Morris as “the most beautiful village in England”. And, the lushly wooded village of Castle Combe, virtually unchanged since the 12th Century. The cobblestone wall was erected in Ashridge Park, a woodland estate in England also used in Harry Potter. Captain Shakespeare’s whimsical Victorian flying “lightning ship” was built full-scale on a soundstage at England’s Pinewood Studios.

Stardust screenwriter Jane Goldman is known in the UK as the host of the series Jane Goldman Investigates, in which she explores mysteries of the paranormal. Goldman’s books include the thriller Dreamworld. Stardust is based on the DC comics series by British best-selling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Charles Vess. Gaiman’s award-winning children’s novel is the basis of Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick’s upcoming film Coraline. Gaiman co-wrote Robert Zemeckis’s upcoming film Beowulf.

British director Matthew Vaughn, who is also credited as one of the screenwriters on Stardust, set up Ska Films with director Guy Ritchie in 1997. (He was also best man at Ritchie’s wedding to Madonna.) Stardust is Vaughn’s second film as director, after the thriller Layer Cake (starring Daniel Craig, Colm Meaney and Sienna Miller). British director of photography Ben Davis (Hannibal Rising) had previously worked with Vaughn on Layer Cake.

The producers are Neil Gaiman, Matthew Vaughn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, and Michael Dreyer (Finding Neverland). Executive producers are David Womark (The Chronicles of Riddick), Kris Thykier (Matthew Vaughn’s producing partner at MARV Films), Peter Morton (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Stephen Marks (Layer Cake).

Because Stardust is a tale of the pursuit of a princess and an adventurer, there may be inevitable comparisons between Stardust and The Princess Bride. But Stardust is darker, more like The Chronicles of Narnia. There are wonderful comedic moments in Stardust, but overall it’s a grim fairy tale like Lord of the Rings. The witches of Stardust are truly creepy and live to cut out and eat Yvaine’s heart.

- Robin Rowe



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