I’d bought the DVD of Stardust for Rowan, and we watched it together the other night, on my return from Blighty. Sweet film. Set in an English village called Wall, and in the magical realm of Stormhold that neighbours it, the plot of Stardust is almost too complex to relate in a short blog. There’s young Tristan Thorne who is trying to win the hand of callow village princess, Victoria. There’s Yvaine, a falling-star-made-human, sought out by a trio of eleventy-year-old witches who want to eat her heart. There’s the convoluted and frankly murderous succession battle of the crochety old King Peter O’Toole, there’s a slave girl chained to a witch’s caravan and lots of wizardly and not-quite so wizardly transformations (man-to-goat, man-to-woman, man-to-chicken-voice, man-to-mincing queen). There are dramatic chases and the leisurely, awaking romance between two antagonistic protagonists. Save for newcomer Charlie Cox, there’s also a cracking all-star cast of whom Michelle Pfeiffer in halloween drag is probably the most memorable. But (sappy romantic that I am) I really loved that Claire Danes as Yvaine shines, literally when she’s happy. I saw Jennifer Garner do that too once, but that’s another story.

About the locations though; with lots of panoramas of lofty, snow-cragged mountains, lush green valleys to gallop through and impossibly quaint and colourful English villages packed with odd-looking people – I’ve come to expect such a movie would be made in New Zealand. What a pleasure then to know that this movie version of Stormhold was shot in some of the most beautiful parts of the United Kingdom (with some pick up shots in Iceland). The Isle of Skye, Carmarthenshire, The Cotswolds – and in the exquisite Tudor lanes of Elm Hill in Norwich. The Slaughtered Prince tavern is actually the more sedate Briton Arms and the pub’s owners were so pleased with the new look – including a spectacular mural and new thatching – that they appealed to the local council and English Heritage to keep it. 

Stardust is Princess Bride for the naughties – and since that’s one of the best fantasy movies of all time, ever, that’s no mean comparison.

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