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Stardust movie thoughts

Last night, my boyfriend and I watched Stardust, the 2007 adaptation of a Neil Gaiman novel about a beautiful star woman that falls out of the sky, the witches who want to eat her heart, and the hero who falls in love with her. For the most part, in spite of hearing some very bad reviews, I really enjoyed the movie. It was funny and had lots of amusing plot twists, and Michelle Pfeiffer made a pretty awesome witch. The hero boy was obviously the protagonist and ring leader of adventures, but that didn't really bother me because I was having such a good time...until the end of the film.


At the end of the movie, the evil witches have narrowed in on the fallen star, who is traveling in the company of the hero's mother. Meanwhile, the hero is off somewhere else, so he doesn't know what's happening. So Michelle Pfeiffer (the evil witch queen) wraps a chain around the mom and the star and says, "get in my stagecoach and come back to my castle." Everyone is aware that this is going to result in their death, but they just shrug their shoulders and get in. Then, of course, the hero shows up, sneaks in the witches' castle, and is reunited with his mother. I assumed that their loving reunion would culminate in defeating the witches together, but instead the hero tells his mom to wait outside while he faces them alone. That was my first big WTF. Then the hero slays a witch and another villain while the star lies on a table waiting for her heart to be cut out and eaten. I kept waiting for her to kick the witch or bite her or something, or maybe just struggle a little, but instead she just looks longingly at her hero until he saves her. Of course, they have been tricked, and just as they are about to escape, the evil witch queen comes to try and kill them again. At which point the star girl glows so brightly that the witch explodes. The hero says, "hey! why didn't you do that before?" and the star says, "oh because I didn't have the power till I was reunited with you." That made me gag a little because the boy had all manner of skills he could use with or without his girl present, but somehow the girl couldn't use her powers till the boy was with her. Then, finally, the boy was made king because it turned out he was the last surviving MALE member of the bloodline. His mom was actually child of the deceased king, but even she says, "oh, everyone knows women can't be kings!" Then she sits off to the side of the stage and watches her son get crowned. Way to sideline your women: mom has to wait outside while the saving is done, star girl can't use her powers unless her boyfriend is around to make her feel happy, and mom obviously can't be king because she's a woman.

I'm really not going to be appeased by arguments that this is not gender fail. I don't care if mom got one or two good moments in the film, or if the star girl got to have a personality, or that she got to do a teeny bit of saving in the end. The underlying moral is that women are powerless without men around, and it's fucked up that the writers of that film probably thought they were doing right by female characters by giving them personality while writing them out of the action.
I like the book better than the film. And I believe that it was less gender fail.
I enjoyed the movie, but yeah, it's interesting, because the book had much less genderfail than the movie--I don't remember all the details, but I know that the mom (Una) ruled as regent while her son and his girlfriend wandered around the kingdom for a while, and in the book, once Tristan died, Yvaine (star girl) continued to rule the kingdom as queen.
There was definitely gender fail in the film, which was so disappointing, since I'd been enjoying it up until that moment.

The book was much better, at least in terms of gender roles and subverting the fairy tale genre.
I'm really not going to be appeased by arguments that this is not gender fail.

As well you shouldn't be; it's flipping textbook gender fail.
The book is so much better, even though the ending isn't a Hollywood 'and they all lived happily ever after' because it doesn't work like that. I especially love the moment in the book where Una gains her freedom. I remember reading it and knowing exactly the expression on her face at that point.

But yes, it is irritating. I do love the visuals (eeee Isle of Skye!) and the soundtrack however.
I agree with all the above comments: the movie took some drastic liberties with the book, and the book is much better. mardia has the plot summary right. Tristran and Yvaine are more partners than the hero/damsel thing that the movie presents.
Echoing what others had said, the book is much better re:gender fail.

I find it really hard to be sure of gender fail in films and stuff, unless it is really obvious, because of the old 'don't make a fuss', 'overzealous feminist' tropes going off in my head. I am trying to tell myself that it is not unreasonable to me to be angry that fifty per cent of the population is routinely presented as less than in much of the media we consume.

I really must go to bed.
I don't remember a thing about the movie except it had a star girl in it and MARK STRONG (be still my heart). No, beat heart, beat. He has my heart. For years I referred to this movie as "Mark Strong on a horse!" Actually, I still do.

So sorry, I didn't notice the gender fail. I just wanted more Mark Strong in it. :)

But I'm sure your points are valid.
No, it was gender fail. And one of the main reasons I just. Wsa not a huge fan of this movie.
I read the book and enjoyed it, though it was a long time ago and I don't remember many specifics; then I saw the movie and got really squicked by it. There's everything you point out, plus just the general idea of the guy leading this girl around ON A CHAIN and her falling in love with him like everything is awesome.