main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: Stardust

A 2007 film adaptation of Neil Gaiman's book of the same name. While certain liberties were taken, it remains a very faithful adaptation. When a star falls from the sky, Tristan Thorn sets out to find a fallen star for Victoria the girl he's in love with, only to find that the "star" is a human woman named Yvaine... and that three evil witches want to capture her. Yvaine is also being chased by heirs to the throne of the magical kingdom of Stormhold who seek Yvaine's ruby necklace.

With an All-Star Cast comprised of Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Mark Strong, the film is said to remind viewers of The Princess Bride. Although the movie contains a different ending from the book, it's successful at playing straight many of the often clichéd fantasy elements in an intelligent and entertaining way.

Stardust contains examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: Tristan starts out trying to force Yvaine to come back to England with him to show her to Victoria, then the two subsequently fall in love.
    • Yvaine also gives us this gem, about when she's abducted for love...
    Yvaine: But of course! Nothing says "romance" like the gift of a kidnapped injured woman! I'm not going anywhere with you!
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Una doesn't seem to have aged much in at least twenty years - though being partly transformed into a bird for most of those years might have halted the ageing process.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie goes in a different direction from the book, introduces numerous changes in both the plot and the characters. However, it's not a bad story by any means.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the book, the eldest of the Lilim has black hair and wears red. In the movie, Lamia has blonde hair and wears green.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Lightning Pirates get a brief mention in the book, but have a significant plot in the movie.
  • Adaptational Badass: Tristan learns to sword fight in the movie, the witches use more combat-oriented spells, and Septimus was a poison master in the book, while in the movie, his preferred weapon is a knife (using poison only once), and he fights with blades.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Septimus and Lamia were both villains in the book, but are more villianous in the movie: Septimus kills more people and is more ruthless, while Lamia is considerably more sadistic.
  • Adorkable: Tristan.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Lamia. Where the book played it straight, it is played with in the film: imagine the scene in the castle of the witches, after Lamia's sisters die, and how the film would have ended if she truly were regretting it.
  • Author Appeal: The director of the movie, Matthew Vaughn, liked the original story so much that he thought it could be a movie a lot like The Princess Bride.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: Tristan gets the throne and his queen while his mother, father, and Capt. Shakespeare look on approvingly.
  • Badass Grandpa: The old man guarding the Wall apparently has had a lot of time to practice (having been there for 80 years).
  • Berserk Button: You really shouldn't betray Septimus, or mock him for that matter. To be fair, Ferdy couldn't make clear he wasn't trying to mock Septimus, given that he was cursed by Lamia so that he could only communicate with chicken sounds.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Lamia and her sisters are a Big Bad Triumvirate, plus the various competing princes. By the end, though, Lamia is the last villain standing, so she probably takes precedence as the Big Bad.
  • Big "NO!": Lamia gives a Skyward Scream when Tristan and Yvaine escape with a Babylon candle and her knife instead lodges in the wall of the inn.
    • Tristan does the same thing later on when he hears from the gate guard that Yvaine was captured by Lamia.
  • Billing Displacement: Ricky Gervais is featured on the poster, yet he appears in only three brief scenes before dying.
    • Claire Danes gets top billing, despite the fact that she is not the main protagonist. Charlie Cox's Tristan is. And he was unknown at the time.
  • Black Comedy: The scene where the princes drink a toast to their quest for the ruby, after which Tertius and the Bishop drop dead from poisoning.
  • Blue Blood: Literally seen when Lamia cuts Primus's throat in the bath and he bleeds blue.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Lamia and her sisters.
  • Blunt Yes: The opening exchange between Dunstan and the Wall Keeper.
    Guard: I'm charged with guarding a portal to another world, and you're asking me to just let you through?!
    Dunstan: [as-a-matter-of-factly] Yes. Because, let's be honest, it's a field. Look, do you see another world out there? No, you see a field. Do you see anything non-human? No. And you know why? Because it's a field!
  • Broken Aesop: You don't have to just be a shop boy, you can go out and have adventures and be a boy momentarily working in a shop! Don't worry if you're not born special! Except Tristan is the son of a magical princess.
  • The Bully: Humphrey. Maybe Septimus too.
  • Butt Monkey: Poor Bernard. First he gets kidnapped by Lamia, who turns him into a goat to drive her cart, then he gets put into a girl's body, almost trapped in a burning inn, kidnapped and kicked around by Septimus, before finally making an appearance at the end sequence looking surprisingly happy for all he's been through.
    • Probably because everybody who did those things to him had died horribly and the people who were nice to him just became King and Queen. I'd be happy, too.
    • Also, he dies in the book, so he's probably thankful for living at all.
    • According to the DVD commentary he was found by Captain Shakespeare and joined his crew.
  • Camp Gay: Captain Shakespeare of the Caspartine
  • Cast from Hit Points: Lamia. Well, more "Cast From Youth," as each spell she uses drains a little bit of the good looks she got from eating the last of the previous star. This leads to a funny scene where she repeatedly tries to use magic to undo signs of age in one spot on her body only for it to cause signs of age to appear on another spot.
  • Celestial Body: Yvaine is a star.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Loads and loads — the glass flower, the silver chain, the Babylon candle, the tube of lightning, the spell Lamia casts on Ditchwater Sal, and Tristan's mother.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The Pirate Crew. When facing Septimus' men they bow, and while their opponents do the same out of courtesy, they take the chance to get the first strike.
  • Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Many reviews of the movie mention the Lightning Pirates as an example of ways in which the movie was different from the book, claiming that they do not appear in the book at all. This is untrue, it's just that what happens on their ship is glossed over in the book, and expanded on here.
    • The film does invent some attributes: the airship crew in the book are not pirates, just fishermen of a sort who harvest lightning. And their captain was not an (admitted) transvestite.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The elderly Wall guard administers one to Tristan.
  • Dance of Romance: Tristan and Yvaine's dance on the ship where Yvaine starts glowing as she's realizing her feelings for him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tristan and Yvaine.
  • Death by Adaptation: Lamia actually survives the book.
  • Decoy Protagonist: An inversion, a Decoy Villain. Septimus seems like he should become a major problem for the heroes. Not only is he actually Tristan's uncle, but the only time he actually meets the two main characters is in the film's climax, just in time to help fight the Big Bads and get killed.
    • And before, Secundus - he gets a great entrance, only to be pushed a minute later from the window.
    • Played straight with Tristan's father at the beginning - although he is important. To get the real protagonist, he and Una go into the back room and have fun...
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "You'll always be our Captain, Captain."
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Yvaine's. Lampshaded:
    Tristan: Couldn't you have done that earlier?
  • Enemy Mine: Sort of. At the end of the film we have a hero / villain team-up (between Tristan and Septimus) to take down a more dangerous villain (Lamia), but the two characters weren't enemies beforehand — in fact, they'd never met (though Septimus did beat up Tristan's mentor, Captain Shakespeare).
  • Engagement Challenge: From Victoria to Tristan. As Yvaine points out, this only shows that Victoria is a False Soulmate.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: The 98-year-old Irish sheperd guarding The Wall is somehow proficient in Shaolin Kung Fu in spite of living in 19th to early 20th Century England all his life.
  • Evil Prince: Septimus.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Toward the climax, Septimus vs Lamia.
  • Exact Words: Ditchwater Sal promises Tristan that she'll get him to Wall Market, leaving him there in the exact condition he is at that moment. She never said anything about his condition during the journey.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Subverted twice, then played straight.
  • False Soulmate: Victoria to Tristan.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • When Tristan touches the ruby and becomes king the dead princes are set free. When they turn into white balls of light and go up, the looks on their faces a split second before they go is pretty funny if you hit pause at just the right moment..
    • After he's changed into a woman, Bernard spends most of his screentime staring at himself or sneaking looks at Yvaine.
  • Gag Boobs: Lamia's breasts suddenly deflate after she uses too much magic.
  • Game Between Heirs: Before he dies, the king of Stormhold announces that his heir will be the one who manages to obtain the ruby necklace he threw into the sky. But it all gets complicated when it crashes onto Yvaine's star and falls to Earth...
  • Gender Bender: Bernard, the goatherd chap gets this treatment as part of Lamia's ruse to lure Yvanne into a trap. At least Lamia was good enough to give him a decent rack.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The director even admitted that he wanted to create a movie for kids that had a heavy dose of Parental Bonus. For example, this scene with Primus talking to Yvaine:
    Primus: [sitting in a bathtub] "... and it is the largest in all of Stormhold-" [flicks water with a smile] "-so they say."
    Yvaine: "Um- how nice for you."
  • Greek Chorus: The dead princes.
  • Happily Ever After
  • A Head at Each End: A miniature elephant with heads at both ends is seen in a cage when Dunstan makes his visit to the market.
  • Hero Tracking Failure: In the movie, during the final Boss Battle, Lamia hurls spells and makes rows of windows dramatically explode one after the other but seems persistently unable to hit Tristan or Yvaine who are running away in a straight line, staying just in front of the explosions. They don't even get a scratch from the flying shards.
    • Arguably Fridge Brilliance. During that scene, when Yvaine and Tristan run away from the exploding windows, they run back towards the witches and away from the only door that they can escape through. So instead of hurting them, the witch just cuts them off and drives them back. Also she needs to cut out Yvaine's heart and eat it, and killing her with broken glass before it's cut out would probably reduce the quality. She's not trying to hit them, she's just terrorizing them For the Evulz.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Captain Shakespeare, he's also a not-so-secret transvestite.
  • High Dive Escape: Septimus' escape from Captain Shakespeare's ship when cornered by the crew is to crash through the window and jump into the water.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Tristan's parents might count, though for them it's more that they've been reunited.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: The witch sisters. We only see what Lamia's youthful self looks like - but they all intend to restore their youth and beauty.
  • Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence: In the film, the wall on the border of the magical land is only chest high, yet an old man guards a gap in it.
    • Possibly Fridge Brilliance. Who's to say you'd end up in the same place if you climbed over it than if you went through the gap?
  • Interspecies Romance: Stars and humans. In the book, this means they can't have offspring. In the movie, they have no problem with this.
  • Ironic Echo: "What's it to be? Heads or tails?"
  • It's All About Me: What Victoria seems to think, even after Tristan flat out tells her to "get over herself."
  • Jerk Jock: Humphrey.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: At the end, Lamia nearly kills Tristan and Yvaine, but stops when she sees her sisters' bodies, and then lets them go, as immortality means nothing without them. When they leave, she shuts the door, and reveals that she was kidding, to lure Yvaine into a sense of security (happy stars give more years).
  • Lady of Black Magic: Lamia, well duh.
  • Large Ham: Robert De Niro as the lovable Captain Shakespeare
    • World of Ham: Mark Strong and Michelle Pfeiffer ham up their roles as Septimus and Lamia
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Inverted. Yvaine's hair is down at first but she and Tristan don't properly begin to fall in love until she starts wearing it up.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Una to the princes of Stormhold. Septimus recognizes her before he gets killed off.
  • Macho Camp: Captain Shakespeare.
  • Made a Slave: Twice, to poor Una.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: On this side of the Wall, a star is a giant ball of gas and a falling star is a lump of rock and metal, but on the other side of the Wall stars are immortal women who float in the sky and shine at night (unless someone hits them and knocks them down). A fallen star crossing the Wall turns into a lump of rock and metal.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman : Bernard checks him/herself out after Lamia transforms him into a girl. Though his gender is changed, Lamia didn't do as good a job with transforming his voice, so he replies with a masculine voice when he tries to serve poisoned wine to Tristan in the stable.
  • Match Cut: After the scene where Septimus kills his soothsayer for being a traitor, he asks his men, "So, do we continue west?" He then throws his runes into the air. One of them flies at the camera and as it flips, is used to transition to Lamia standing on the top of a cliff using her runes.
  • Meaningful Echo: What do stars do best?
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The children of the Lord of Stormhold, Primus, Secundus, ... and so on. Their sister Una counts as well, Una meaning 'single' or 'one'.
    • The witches are named after demons from Greek mythology said in some myths to be daughters of Hecate, the goddess of witches.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Who knew traveling scenes could be so dramatic?
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In an aversion of Trailers Always Spoil, the exact nature of Robert De Niro's role as Captain Shakespeare was not spoiled by trailers, making The Reveal in the movie a total surprise.
  • Now What?: One of the seven brothers says this once Septimus, the last of them, dies. They were supposed to acquire a ruby from their father, which would make them king, but with all seven dead… Thankfully, Tristan, being Una's son, turns out to be eligible and they're able to pass on.
  • Numerical Theme Naming: The children of the Lord of Stormhold, Primus, Secundus, ... and so on. They also each have the appropriate Roman numeral as a clothing motif, which is how Tristan identifies Septimus when the two end up at Lamia's hideout.
  • The Obstructive Love Interest: Victoria, of course.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Michelle Pfeiffer's English accent often slips and sometimes completely vanishes.
  • Oop North: Ditchwater Sal's voice.
  • People Puppets: Of the corpse kind. Septimus is animated by one of the witches to engage in a sword fight with the protagonist.
  • Phosphor-Essence: Yvaine glows more brightly the happier she is.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Captain Shakespeare's Lightning Pirates don't actually pirate per se, but make a solid living poaching lightning from thunderstorms, so they may be merely The Pirates Who Do Something Else. The career paths of Shakespeare and crew still offer plenty of opportunities to evade the law (Lightning-Marshalls at that), to amass fortunes on the black market and for combat badassery on the high seas in the wild blue yonder, so their Pirate work resumes are still quite aglow.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Presumably the book's Tristran was changed to the movie's Tristan because the latter is simply easier to say.
  • Prophecy Twist: Everyone knows that possessing the heart of a star is the key to living forever. Turns out it works just as well metaphorically as literally.
  • The Power of Love: In the movie's ending, anyway.
  • Reality Changing Miniature: Lamia is able to use a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and then puppet his corpse to fight Tristan.
  • Romantic False Lead: Victoria.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: It turns out Captain Shakespeare's entire crew was this, regarding his cross-dressing.
    Old Pirate: It's alright, Captain! We always knew you was a whoopsie!
  • Shout-Out: In the montage of Tristan and Yvaine's time on Captain Shakepeare's ship, there's one scene where she plays the piano with the Captain. A reference to her previous piano-playing role in Little Women?
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Septimus and his men ambush Captain Shakespeare's boat, in a massive fight, to the tune of the Can-Can, which is playing on Shakespeare's gramophone.
  • Sky Pirate: Captain Shakespeare and his crew.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Tristran, changing the Bittersweet Ending of the original into a genuinely Happy Ending.
    • Also Bernard.
  • Spoiled Brat: Victoria. In the original book, she was actually Spoiled Sweet, whereas here her only sweetness is that she's nice to Tristan out of pity, and stops being nice the minute she actually expects something of him. Otherwise, she only thinks of herself.
  • Spotting the Thread: Septimus suspects his soothsayer of treachery. So he asks the soothsayer some basic questions about himself that he knows are true. He sees that the runes fall symbols-side up, which means "yes". Then he asks if begging or pleading has ever convinced him to spare a traitor, something that is false. This time, the runes fall face-down, meaning "no". Now that he knows what means "no" and "yes", Septimus has the soothsayer throw the runes high. While they're still in the air, he asks, "Do you work for my brother?" In slow motion, the soothsayer's face turns to a look of shock as the runes land symbols-side up. When they stop moving, Septimus promptly stabs him through the heart.
  • Stars Are Souls: When Tristan and Yvaine die they become Twin Stars.
  • Stealth Pun: When Primus is killed his blood is blue. Whether or not this is true for all natives of Faerie is never addressed, so it counts.
  • Terrible Trio: The three witches: Lamia, Mormo, and Empusa.
  • This Is the Part Where...: By Captain Shakespeare: "This is the part where you tell me who you are and why you're up here."
  • Threshold Guardians: The Wall Guard, both figuratively and literally.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Septimus effectively lobs a sword to kill Empusa.
  • Title Drop: Tristan brings Victoria a lock of Yvaine's hair, which has turned into stardust after crossing the wall. This does not happen in the book.
  • Training Montage: In the movie. Tristan gets a level in badass surgically injected into him by The Captain.
  • True Blue Femininity: Yvaine chooses a blue gown when she has the pick of Captain Shakespeare's wardrobe. Una also wears a blue dress.
  • Too Dumb to Live: After discussing that his brothers will try to kill each other for the throne, Secundus doesn't see anything suspicious about his father asking him to stand with his back to his siblings, next to a large open window. Septimus takes advantage of this.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Tristan.
  • Transparent Closet: The ship's crew always knew their captain was gay.
  • Tsundere: Yvaine is actually a Type B. She is initially hostile to Tristan for understandable reasons - being knocked out of the sky, chained up and forced to walk so many miles. She calms down pretty soon and warms to him. When she fears he's going to choose Victoria instead, she simply becomes sad rather than angry.
  • Vain Sorceress: Lamia and her sisters' motivation.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Primus, considering he's murdered while in the bath - and ghosts stay the way they were when they died.
  • Weapon Wields You: At the end, the witch Lamia controls Septimus' corpse, however she only bothers with animating the sword (and hands/arms), letting the rest of his body dangle behind it.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: Parodied to a wacky extent with the crew. Hilariously subverted with Shakespeare.

SplashFantasy FilmsThe Sword and the Sorcerer
V for VendettaHugo AwardEnchanted
StardustFairy TaleSylvie and Bruno
POW CampImageSource/Live-Action FilmsVirgin Power
Spider LiliesFilms of 2005 - 2009 St. Trinian's

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy