Stardust (2007 film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Stardust
by Neil Gaiman
Narrated by Ian McKellen
Music by Ilan Eshkeri
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by Jon Harris
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • 10 August 2007 (2007-08-10)
Running time
127 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Iceland
Language English
Budget $88.5 million[2]
Box office $135.6 million[3]

Stardust is a 2007 romantic fantasy adventure film directed by Matthew Vaughn and co-written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman based on Neil Gaiman's 1999 novel of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast led by Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Jason Flemyng, Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, Ricky Gervais, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Peter O'Toole, with narration by Ian McKellen. The film follows a young man, Tristan, who passes through "the wall" and leaves his boring village, Wall, and humdrum life to enter a world of magic and fantasy in the kingdom of Stormhold. He seeks a star to impress a girl, and find the star to be a lady herself named Yvaine. Tristan must quest to return Yvaine to Wall, as she herself is pursued by princes seeking a gem in star's possession that would make them king. Tristan ultimately finds he belongs in Stormhold and among the stars himself.

The film was released to positive reviews and grossed $135.6 million[3] on an $88.5 million budget.[2] In 2008, it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.[4] Stardust was released on DVD, Blu-ray, and HD DVD on December 18, 2007, by Paramount Home Entertainment.


A village lies near a gap in a stone wall bordering the magical kingdom of Stormhold. The gap is guarded constantly, but Dunstan Thorn manages to go through and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss, then invites him into her caravan. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.

Eighteen years later, the dying King of Stormhold throws a ruby into the sky, decreeing that his successor will be the first of his fratricidal sons to recover it. The gem hits a star, they fall together, and the remaining sons, Primus and Septimus, independently search for the gem.

In Wall, Tristan sees the star fall and vows to get it for the object of his infatuation, Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. Tristan learns that his mother is from beyond the wall, and receives a Babylon candle that she had left for him, which instantly takes the user to any desired location. Tristan lights it and is transported to the fallen star, personified as a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He promptly chains her to take her home to Victoria.

Three ancient witch sisters in Stormhold resolve to eat the fallen star's heart to recover their youth and replenish their powers. Their leader, Lamia, eats the remnants of an earlier star's heart, and sets off to find Yvaine. She conjures up a wayside inn as a trap.

Yvaine becomes tired, so Tristan chains her to a tree and promises to bring food. In his absence, a unicorn releases her, but unwittingly takes her to Lamia's inn. Tristan discovers Yvaine gone, but the stars whisper that she is in danger, telling him to get on a passing coach, which happens to be Primus'. At the inn, they interrupt Lamia's attempt to kill Yvaine. Lamia kills Primus, but Tristan and Yvaine use the Babylon candle to escape into the clouds, where they are captured by pirates in a flying ship, who teach Tristan how to fence.

Septimus discovers that, as the last surviving son, he need only find the stone to claim the throne. He learns it is in the possession of the fallen star and realizes that the heart of a star grants immortality.

After leaving Captain Shakespeare's ship, Tristan and Yvaine confess their love for one another and spend the night together at an inn. Come morning, Tristan leaves Yvaine sleeping and goes to Wall with a lock of her hair, to tell Victoria he will not marry her, having fallen in love with Yvaine. When the lock turns to dust, he realizes Yvaine will die if she crosses the wall, and rushes back to save her.

Yvaine finds Tristan gone, and starts walking towards the wall, thinking he has abandoned her for Victoria. Tristan's mother Una notices Yvaine walking to her doom, so takes the caravan of her enslaver, a witch named Ditchwater Sal, to the wall to stop her. Lamia arrives, kills Sal, and captures Una and Yvaine, taking them to the witches' castle. Septimus and Tristan both pursue Lamia, agreeing to work together for the time being. Barging into the castle, Septimus recognises the princess as his long-lost sister and Una informs Tristan that she is his mother.

Septimus and Tristan kill two of the witches, but Lamia uses a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and make his corpse fight Tristan. Lamia is about to finish Tristan off, when she appears to break down over the loss of her sisters. Lamia frees Yvaine, but her feigned defeat was just a ruse to bolster Yvaine's broken heart. As Tristan and Yvaine embrace, their love allows her to shine once again, vaporising Lamia in a blinding flash of starlight.

Tristan retrieves the jewel that Yvaine was wearing. As the jewel turns red, Una explains that, as her son, Tristan is the last male heir of Stormhold. He becomes king with Yvaine as his queen while Dunstan and Una are reunited. After 80 years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where Tristan also becomes a star and the pair lives forever in the sky.




The 1998 fantasy novel Stardust by Neil Gaiman was first optioned for a film adaptation by Miramax in 1998–99. According to Gaiman, the film went "through an unsatisfactory development period", and he recovered the rights after they expired.[5][6]

Eventually, discussions about a film version of Stardust began taking place between Gaiman, director Terry Gilliam and Matthew Vaughn. After Gilliam dropped out following his involvement with The Brothers Grimm, Vaughn left the talks to direct Layer Cake. Gaiman and Vaughn resumed talks after the director walked away from helming the film X-Men: The Last Stand and in January 2005, Vaughn acquired the option to develop the film adaptation.[7] In October 2005, the director entered final negotiations with Paramount Pictures to direct and produce Stardust with a budget estimated at US$70 million.[8]


The adapted screenplay was written by Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman. When asked how the book inspired his vision for the film, Vaughn said that he wanted "to do Princess Bride with a Midnight Run overtone."[9] One of the difficulties with adapting the novel was its earnest and dark nature: an adult fairy tale in which sex and violence are presented unflinchingly. As a result of changes, the movie version has a greater element of whimsy and humour, with Gaiman's blessing given to the screenwriters. Gaiman did not want people to go to the theatre to see a film that attempted to be completely loyal to Stardust the book and failed.[10] After creating the audiobook version of the novel, Gaiman realised that there were 10½ hours of material in the book. This led him to acknowledge that the film would have to compress the novel, leaving out portions of the work. Budgetary concerns also factored into the adaptation, even with the level of 2006 technology.[5]

Vaughn and Goldman decided that the witches needed names (as in the book they were collectively the Lilim and their names were lost beneath the sea); their Classical decisions included names also found in The Books of Magic (Empusa) and Neverwhere (Lamia).[11]

On the film's differences from the novel, Gaiman commented: "I sort of feel like my grounding in comics was actually very useful, because in my head, that's just the Earth-Two version of Stardust. It's a parallel Earth version of Stardust, which has Robert De Niro and stuff. And I get people who come to the book from having loved the movie who are really disappointed at some of the stuff that isn't there that Matthew brought."[12]


In March 2006, the studio cast Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, and Sienna Miller. Production began in the United Kingdom and Iceland in April 2006, with the majority of filming taking place in the UK.[13] Vaughn himself picked Danes, Cox and Pfeiffer for their roles. He intended Captain Shakespeare to be played by either De Niro or Jack Nicholson. Stephen Fry was pitched as a possible Shakespeare, but Vaughn eventually picked De Niro.[14]

Sarah Michelle Gellar was offered the role of Yvaine but turned it down to spend more time with her husband.[15] Cox was tentatively cast as Tristan, but to ensure the leads had "chemistry" on screen Vaughn would not confirm the casting until both leads were cast. Vaughn had Cox audition alongside the prospective leading ladies, until the female lead was cast.[16]

The role of Quintus was originally given to comedian Noel Fielding, but due to health issues he had to drop out, and was replaced by fellow comedian Adam Buxton.[17]


Locations used in Scotland included the area surrounding the Quiraing, on the Isle of Skye.

In mid-April 2006, principal photography started on Stardust. The production was filmed at Pinewood Studios in London. Location filming started in Wester Ross, in the Scottish Highlands[18] followed immediately by filming on the Isle of Skye. Some parts of the film were also shot in Iceland.

Several weeks of location filming also took place in the woods and the Golden Valley near Ashridge Business school, Hertfordshire in the village of Little Gaddesden in June and July.[19] In mid-2006, there was some filming at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire and in the village of Castle Combe, Wiltshire. Some of the scenes requiring wide open spaces for riding and coach scenes were filmed at Bicester Airfield in Oxfordshire. Filming was finished by 13 July 2006.[19]

One film location was on Elm Hill in Norwich. The area, with a mixture of Tudor and medieval buildings dating as far back as the 11th century, was transformed into the streets of Stormhold. The Briton's Arms tea house became the Slaughtered Prince public house.[20] The owners were so enthralled with the new look, including a spectacular mural and new thatching, that they appealed to the local council and English Heritage to keep it, but their request was refused.



Stardust was well received by test audiences. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura was surprised when the film was well received across all demographics, despite the film not having been designed for everyone, expecting instead for parts of the audience to feel the film wasn't for them. In their feedback audiences agreed it was not a fairytale, giving various descriptions of it, such as an adventure with magical elements.[21]

Box office

Stardust was released on 10 August 2007 in the United States in 2,540 theatres, opening at #4 and earning US$9,169,779 in its opening weekend (an average of $3,610 per theatre). The film also opened the same day in Russia and the rest of the Commonwealth of Independent States, earning $8,118,263 as of 14 October 2007. Stardust has earned a total of $135,553,760 worldwide.[3] Its biggest markets were the US, where it made $38 million, and the UK, where it made $31 million (approximately £19.5 million GBP).

Critical response

The film was released to positive reviews. The film rates 66/100 at the movie review aggregator Metacritic based on 33 reviews.[22] On another aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes, the film was judged "certified fresh" given 76% rating, based on reviews from 185 critics.[23] Stardust was released in the UK and Ireland on 19 October 2007, where it spent 8 weeks in the box office top ten.[24]

Associated Press film critic David Germain named the film the No. 7 best film of 2007.[25] The New Yorker's Bruce Diones called it "more surprising and effective than the usual kiddie-matinée madness."[26] While Roger Ebert called it a "fun" movie and gave it a positive rating of 2.5 out of 4 stars, he criticised the pacing as being cluttered and unfocused.[27] Philip French of The Observer asserted that the film "fails on every level and plumbs new depths of camp embarrassment."[28]


Award Category Recipient Result
34th Annual Saturn Awards 2008[29] Best Fantasy Film Stardust Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Michelle Pfeiffer
Best Costume Sammy Sheldon
Empire Awards 2008[30] Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Stardust Won
GLAAD Media Awards 2008 Outstanding Film - Wide Release Stardust Won
Hugo Awards 2008 Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form Jane Goldman (written by), Matthew Vaughn (written by/director), Neil Gaiman (based on the novel by), Charles Vess (illustrated by) Won
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 2007[31] Overlooked Film Of The Year Stardust Won

Video releases

The film was released on both Region 1 DVD and HD DVD on 18 December 2007. The DVD was released in both Fullscreen and Widescreen aspect ratios.[32] The HD DVD and DVD special features include:

  1. Good Omens: The Making of Stardust
  2. Deleted scenes
  3. Blooper reel
  4. Theatrical trailer

The film and special features on the HD DVD version are presented in 2.35:1 Widescreen high definition 1080p and feature a Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 audio soundtrack.[33]

The film was released on Region A Blu-ray Disc (Canada and US) on 7 September 2010.[34]



  1. "Stardust (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 25 July 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  2. 1 2 Archie Thomas (26 January 2006). "London shoots up 18% while UK prod'n falls". Variety. Retrieved 2012-10-31. Matthew Vaughn's $88.5 million fantasy
  3. 1 2 3 "Stardust (2007)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. Retrieved 2007-10-15.
  4. "2008 Hugo Award Results Announced". World Science Fiction Society. 9 August 2008. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  5. 1 2 Brooke Tarnoff. "Neil Gaiman, Stardust Interview". UGO: Underground Online. Archived from the original on 29 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  6. Adams, Sam (5 August 2007). "All of a sudden, his fantasies are turning to reality". Los Angeles Times.
  7. Adam Dawtrey (16 January 2005). "Vaughn pushes ahead with 'U.N.C.L.E.' feature". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  8. "'Stardust' Author Neil Gaiman Tells Why He Turns Down Most Adaptations – But Not This One". MTV. 10 August 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-14.
  9. Douglas, Edward (2 August 2007). "Exclusive: Stardust Director Matthew Vaughn". Retrieved 2011-01-31.
  10. Anthony Breznican (30 July 2007). "Storyteller Gaiman wishes upon a star". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-09-27.
  11. Gaiman, Neil. "Neil Gaiman's Journal: April 2006". Archived from the original on 15 November 2006.
  12. O'Hara, Helen (28 June 2013). "Six Seasons Planned For HBO's American Gods Adaptation". Event occurs at 26:00. Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  13. Michael Fleming (6 March 2006). "A sprinkling of 'Stardust'". Variety. Retrieved 2007-04-29.
  14. Damon Wise (29 September 2007). "Stardust is a fairytale like no other". The Times. London. Retrieved 2007-09-29.
  15. "Sarah Michelle Gellar Turned Down 'Stardust' Role For Her Husband". Retrieved 28 January 2008.
  16. Mark Olsen (5 August 2007). "'Stardust' gave him the space to grow. A fanciful tale with a big-name cast offered a test for Charlie Cox.". Los Angeles Times.
  17. "Stardust Movie: Interview With Neal Gaiman".
  18. "Highland films screened at Cannes". 12 May 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-03.
  19. 1 2 "OLV INTERNATIONAL Road Trip: The Enchanting Locations of Stardust". Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28.
  20. BBC – Norfolk – Places – Stardust: Hollywood magic falls over Norwich
  21. Fred Topel (6 March 2007). "Neil Gaiman's "Stardust" Scoring High With Test Audiences".
  22. "Stardust (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2007-08-14.
  23. "Stardust". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2008-03-17.
  24. "Stardust Box-Office". 12 March 2010.
  25. David Germain; Christy Lemire (27 December 2007). "'No Country for Old Men' earns nod from AP critics". Associated Press, via Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. Retrieved 2007-12-31.
  26. Bruce Diones. "'Stardust review'".
  27. Roger Ebert (10 August 2007). "STARDUST (PG-13)". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  28. Philip French (21 October 2007). "Stardust". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  29. Awards. "34th Annual Saturn Awards".
  30. Awards, Empire. "13th Empire Awards". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  31. "Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards 2007". Retrieved 17 June 2014.
  32. "Stardust (R1) in December – New artwork". DVD Times. Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  33. "HD DVD Review: Stardust | High-Def Digest". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  34. "Amazon Blu-ray Disc listing". Retrieved 2016-11-05.
  35. General – Stardust Original Soundtrack / 0

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