It’s that time again, have you read the book? Did you watch the movie? What do you think? For me, this is one of those movies that is loosely based on the novel but I love them both. The novel and the movie start off basically the same, the main difference being Tristan’s father marries a local girl instead of remaining single. I was disappointed the first time I watched the movie in the actress chosen to play Victoria because in the book Victoria is supposed to be the beautiful woman and I didn’t feel like the actress they choose fit that description. Of course, it is hard to compete with Michelle Pfieffer and Clare Danes when it comes to beauty.
In a film full of big name stars and amazing special effects, there is the occasional surprise moment that works incredibly well. One of those moments is when the old guard at the wall attacks Tristan and kicks his trash. I love Waking Ned Divine and loved seeing David Kelly flip over the wall and beat Tristan, a man a third his age, with a few well aimed blows of his cane.
A major difference between the two works is the role the lightening pirates play. They are very minor characters in the novel, whereas in the film they play a major role in the transformation of Tristan. It is thanks to the pirate captain Shakespeare that Tristan gets a more mature look, gains confidence because of his new ability to fight with swords, and starts to fall in love with Yvaine. The pirate captain’s name came from literary Shakespeare but he chose it because he wanted a name he could shake his fist to. Robert De Niro was hilarious as the cross-dressing captain, especially when he got caught by Septimus and discovered that his crew already knew about his habits.
In both of the works, the connection of the witch’s magic to the toll it took in her looks was interesting, that nothing comes without a cost, in this case a visible toll for everyone to see. For me, what can make or break a movie or novel is the small details, in both works the details are fabulous. Something as simple as the blood that the royal prince bleeds is blue (blue blood) or the way that Tristan’s hair grows as Captain Shakespeare is playing with it during his make-over.
The entire scene at the Inn is great. The first time the goat husband jumped over the bar instead of walking around I couldn’t stop laughing. Also, when Bernard is turned into a women and is fascinated with his own breasts had me giggling and the look on Tristan’s face when Bernard speaks is priceless. The interaction of the characters during this crucial scene was well done.
In the novel, the ghosts follow the Stronghold Heirs but the heirs are unaware of their presence. The movie is much more ambiguous but the running commentary is entertaining, as is the fact that each of the ghosts is left in the condition that they died.
The endings of the two works are completely different, in the novel Tristan and the star make it back to Wall, where Tristan crosses over to say goodbye to his family, severing all ties with that world so he can remain with his Yvaine. Tristan meets up with his mother in the end, who wants Tristan to immediately assume the throne but instead he continues traveling with Yvaine for another ten years, before finally assuming the throne. In the film Tristan’s mother assists him with the final battle against the witches and is there at the end when Tristan and Yvaine are crowned having been reunited with Tristan’s father.
In the novel, the witch gives up the chase at the end of the story because of everything she lost in her pursuit of the star’s heart. The movie does pay hommage to the novel’s witch’s attitude at the end of the story, in giving up instead of continuing to fight but it as a cruel trick played against Tristan and Yvaine. The ending of the film is much more exciting than the novel, with the battle between Septimus and the witches, then the battle between Tristan, Septimus’ body, and the witches for Yvaine’s heart. The detail work is amazing!
I love the imagery of both works. The original artwork of the first publication of the novel was created by Charles Vess and is amazing. The imagery of the movie is equally as impressive. The hall where the last great battle occurs is great looking. The use of the space and mirrors in the battle was well choreographed, in my opinion, adding to a great climax of the movie. Despite the differences in storyline between the novel and the film, I enjoy both. What do you think? Upset by the differences or don’t care?