26 August 2007 | Chris_Docker
A magic that isn't puerile . . .
The power to dream is a wonderful thing. There's a saying, "Not all dreamers achieve, but all achievers dream." By exploring our imagination we shape our own futures. Or build empires. Perhaps overcome our fears, limitations and obstacles. Gain wisdom and benefit mankind. Or (put simply) just find our way to true love and happiness. Freud might express such things in symbols. The language of fantasy.
Tristan ventures out of a rather twee English village called Wall. He goes through a break in the wall. A portal. In search of something that will prove his love to Victoria (Sienna Miller). Victoria doesn't take him very seriously. So he pledges to bring back a falling star.
Stormhold is the world outside the wall. He discovers the fallen star has taken the form of a beautiful girl, Yvaine (Claire Danes). To complicate matters, three evil witches want to get hold of Yvaine. If they can eat her heart, it will replenish their youth. (One of the witches is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who does fabulous young-old transformations of looks and manner.) The 'good guy' they meet on their way is Captain Shakespeare (Robert de Niro). He has a fierce, swashbuckling pirate exterior but is a sweetie closet queen underneath. Heirs of Stormhold meanwhile are engaged in a pitched battle over inheriting the Kingdom. Ricky Gervais is an added extras. A buffoon trader throwing in standard Gervais-type gags well. Tristan's purity of spirit arouses the love of Yvaine, so there is a nice little triangle going. Till he achieves the maturity to discern pedestal divas from real women.
Stardust is a full-on, large scale fantasy that does credit to its myriad stars. Wholly positive, and written with a clarity that makes it more worthy of psychoanalysis that a coven full of Harry Potter romps. Production values rival Hollywood, and the storyline is free of the racial stereotyping, misogyny, religious or class agendas than shape and pervert so many large scale fantasies.
That is not to say that Stardust is without its faults. Plot and dialogue have many predictable elements, and the fairytale quality may be too saccharine for some audiences. But if you want an excuse to let your heart fly, this film may well provide it.
As a boy, I remember listening in wonder to albums by the Moody Blues (who practiced in a house not far from where I lived). They made records with names like "In Search of the Lost Chord," and wrote lyrics like, "Thinking is the best way to travel." I would fill my head with books on magic and mystery, from Timothy Leary to Aleister Crowley. Shaping dreams. Learning to make them real. Nowadays people might talk of NLP or positive thinking. Adults that remember how to dream with the force of youth but with the vision and application of maturity. Do you still enjoy that feeling?
You are advised not to wait for Stardust on DVD. See it on the biggest cinema screen you can find. And Dolby Digital Surround Sound if you can get it. The actors look like they had a ball. Maybe you will too.