I spent a good portion as a young adult hating Neil Gaiman, firstly because I thought his name sounded funny, and secondly because I detested the drawings in his graphic novels, Sandman (and because some of my friends...ish... really liked it, and I really didn't like them...). But had I known then what I know now I would not have been that adamant. I might even have checked out the story itself... I haven't yet, but I like to have stuff to look forward to, so I haven't excluded it from my future reading list! A bit much curriculum at the moment, but that will eventually decrease. A future entry will include my exam...a fact that makes you all look forward as kids would if the circus was in town...I'm not assuming, that was in fact an order!!! Start looking forward...hehe.
Sidetracking again, I was talking about Neil Gaiman, right?
It was when I met him as a writer of novels I completely changed my mind. I was very reluctant at first, and wanted so much to continue my dislike. That was, it turned out, impossible, as he has written the best fantasy novel of our time (mind you, I'm counting Harry Potter as a genre standing above everything else, and Narnia, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings at the top over that, iced with Silmarillion, and Shakespeare as the puppeteer...)
I am of course referring to Stardust.
I discovered this in the wrong order. I usually like to read the book first before watching the film. Then the images I created myself will remain, unless the image created by various directors surpass my imagination (they rarely do...). When the credits told me that this was a film based on a novel by Neil Gaiman I was intrigued. I watched "The making of - part of the film", and found the British writer an incredibly charming man, all though at this point I'm still fighting my new found interest a bit.
I read the book, Stardust, and realized it was quite different from the movie. They had, however, recreated the feel-good energy and epic feeling from the book in the movie. It helps, obviously, that Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and Claire Danes holds the central roles. But the mood of the film comes from the story itself, and that is all Neil Gaiman. Plus the first five minutes of the film is all Ben Barnes, and that's never wrong! And to sell the film even more, Gandalf is narrator...
Then my mother bought a nifty little book called Coraline.
I read it, literally, in one sitting. It is a children's book, but a children's book in the spirit of Roald Dahl (another one of my favorites). Coraline is a little girl who suddenly has to deal with two realities. It's a fascinating, sweet and a little disturbing story that grips you from the start, and I urge you all to read it. If not for one's own enjoyment, then read it to your children...and get the benefits of good children stories.
To continue the good children stories I would like to draw attention to another one of his successes. It's called The Graveyard book. It's about a boy, called Boy, being raised by ghosts on a graveyard. Sort of like the gothic version of The Jungle-book.
He's also written a book called Neverwhere,
and this book is almost a bit too big for me. How to explain... I sometimes dread starting a project, not because I fear I'll hate it (then I simply stop reading), but because I fear I'll like it so much that I'll be devastated when it comes to an end. I experienced something like this when I read Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings. I waited a long time before reading the books, simply because I knew I would love them to the extent of tears and utter depression when they ended. And Neverwhere is a fantasy set to London, another lifelong love... But I'm getting there. And when I do I'll get back to you. But back to the theme of this entry!
Stardust (and here I find it best to write SPOILER ALLERT!!! so that none of you come after me when I'm walking quietly down the streets for ruining your film or book experience...).
Stardust! The best fantasy of our time! It starts with a young man (Dunstan) who lives next to a grand wall. This wall is guarded by an old geezer, and this young man sneaks past the old geezer and is allowed into the wonderful land of Stormhold! This is a magic land where stars become people and seven brothers fight for the throne, and three wicked sisters, witches obviously, are after the star that just fell to the earth because of the ruby the King threw in the air. The witches need to eat the heart of the star to stay young (what a nasty, horrid thing to do!), and the seven brothers fighting for the throne need to find the ruby, currently in the possession of the Star, Yvaine.
At the same time, the son of Dunstan (oh yes, his visit to Stormhold all those years ago gave Dunstan a small son), a boy named Tristan, who's trying to impress the love of his life (Or at least, he believes she is the love of his life. She is, on the other hand, more into money and fashion and champagne...a rather one-dimensional character to say the least.), and he wants to do so by bringing back the star that they both witnessed falling to the earth. There is only one problem, actually there are many problems... The witches led by Michelle Pfeifer (Lamia)
and the princes, led by the evil Mark Strong (Septimus),
are trying to find Yvaine. But the biggest problem of them all is that whilst inside the wall, inside Stormhold, Yvaine is a maiden, in a smashing dress I might add, smashing dresses come to think of it! On the outside, in our world, she turns to dust. Stardust...hence the title I presume.
So her destiny is pretty much death where ever...hmm!
Did I mention that Tristan's mother is Una, the long lost princess of Stormhold? She's being held captive by a gypsy witch, and can't escape because of enchanted chains. It's all vey fantasy, and I love every minute of it!
And the referent to Shakespeare, you ask??? Well, hold on tight as Robert De Niro plays, rather brilliantly, the fabulous Captain Shakespeare, the captain of a flying ship collecting lightning... a rather strong link to the old Greek myths, much like they did in Shakespearean times.
Read, watch, and be bewitched!