12 Aug 2017

HIGH FANTASY RULES - Stardust (2007)

Film genres have formulas and rules, but how well do High Fantasy films follow their formula?

Stardust (2007) is the film about a star and boy who just happens to work in a shop right now.

The following analysis may contain spoilers for


RULE #1 - The Secondary World.

"I'm charged with guarding the portal to another world.  And you're asking me to just Iet you through?" ~ Guard.
"Yes.  Because, Iet's be honest, it's a field.  Look, do you see another world out there?" ~ Dunstan.

1a.  Type:  The Kingdom of Stormhold is mostly a world that people from the real world can travel to in some way, but slightly more connected to the real world then most (but not by much)
1b.  Faux-medieval - The "real world" is 19th Century England, and the Kingdom of Stormhold seems about the same level.
1c.  Panoramic landscapes - Yes.
1d.  Impossible buildings and landmarks - Yeah, but:  Flying ship.
1e.  Archaic spelling/strange names - A couple of names from Arthurian legend, a bunch of Latin names denoting birth order.
1f.  Hyper-real - Yes, and magically so.

RULE #2 - There may be sex and nudity.

"I think you're in my bath."
"Close your eyes!" ~ Yvaine.
"Honestly I'm not looking. Here, I'll turn away." ~ Tristan.

Family film, so it's suggested and cut away from, not shown:

2a.  Nudity
i.  Female Nudity - Yvaine, suggested nudity in the tub on two occasions.  Empusa also has some suggested nudity.
ii. Male Nudity - Primus, suggested nudity in the tub.  As he was murder in the tub, he was naked in the afterlife thereafter.
2b.  Sex
i.  Death - No sex/death connection.
ii.  Random Sex - Tristan's parents Dunstan and Una (offscreen).
iii.  Relationship Sex - Tristran and Yvaine (offscreen).
iv.  Rape - It was suggested that the pirates may have intended this, and that they expected the Captain and his nephew to have done it.

RULE #3 - Characters.

"What's the problem?" ~ Skinny Pirate.
"It's my reputation." ~ Captain Shakespeare.
"No. No. Don't be silly. Nonsense." ~ Skinny Pirate.
It's all right, Captain. We always knew you were a whoopsie."  ~ Old Pirate.

3a.  The Hero - Tristan.
3b.  The Hero's Parents - Dunstan and Una.  They are not killed, but she is absent during his childhood.

3c - 3i.  The Party of Adventurers - No real party.
3c.  The Mentor - A non-magic one in the form of Captain Shakespeare.  Dunstan, Tristan's father also.
3d.  The Heroine - Vivian.
3e.  A Warrior - Partially, Captain Shakespeare again.
3f.  A Warrior Woman - N/A.
3g.  A User of Magic - N/A.
3h.  A Thief - N/A, although his mother partially counts.
3i.  A pet or other animal - Only Tristran when he's turned into a mouse.

3j.  King - The evil variety in the dying King.
3k.  The Hag - An unambiguously evil version in Dishwater Sal

3l.  The Dark Lord - Another female one in the form of Lamia.
3m.  An evil female
i. Female Henchman - Her sisters, Empusa and Mormo.
ii. Member of Harem - N/A.
iii.  Dark Lord's Daughter - N/A.
3n.  Male Henchmen - None.  However, vaguely fitting the role is the surviving sons of the King, Septimus and Primus.
3o.  Minions - Septimus has a few.

3o - 3q.  An Evil Person.
3o.  Grand Vizier - The bishop, partially, but openly so.
3p.  Evil relative - The King's sons are all evil relatives of the hero, however, they are unaware of it so this trope isn't played up.
3q.  The Priest - The soothsayer, partially, but openly so.

RULE #4 - Races & Cultures.

"You know you sort of - glitter sometimes. I've just noticed it. Is it... Is it normal?"
"Let's see if you can work it out for yourself. What do stars do?" ~ Yvaine.
"Hmm... Attract trouble?" ~ Tristan.

4a.  Homogeneous Races - Only humans and stars really.

i.  Good/Evil - Humans can be evil, presumably stars are only good.
ii.   Magic - Practised by humans, but with a toll.  Stars seem naturally magical and their hearts a source of magic.
iii.   Habitat - A variety.
4b.  Races.
i.  Humans - The usual.
ii.  Elves - Stars sort of count.
iii.  Dwarfs - No.
iii.  Halflings - No.
iv.  Fairies - Stars sort of count.
v.  Centaurs/part animals - No.
vi.  Giants - No.
vii.  Trolls - No.
viii.  Orcs, Goblins, Hobgoblins - No.
4d.  Societies - A few facets of human society shown, nobility, witches, those from the market place and those involved in lightning theft, but no real competing kingdoms.
4e.  Homogeneous Culture - A little.
4f.  Rival cultures - None really.

RULE #5 - Magic & Monsters

"If you have quite finished squandering your magic on your rather counterproductive beauty routine, you might Iike to know that the star has returned." ~ Mormo.

5a.  Magical Past - Not indicated, although the knowledge of the need to defend the whole in the wall may suggest something.  The witches certainly were personally more powerful 400 years earlier when they last found a fallen star and stole it's heart.
5b.  Low Magic Present - Only on the England side of the wall.
5c.  Magical laws - Some, but unclear.  Using magic ages you but an a variable rate, it seems.
5d.  Good vs Evil - The human magic users were evil and fought each other (although Dishwater Sal clains she does deal in black magic).
5e.  Gendered - All the witches and even all the stars seen and heard, were female, the male shown to have some abilities was a soothsayer who used runestones so a lot less magical.
5f.  Hereditary - The main three witches called themselves sisters, so possibly.  There was also a family curse on the royal family.
5g.  Spells & Powers
i.  Healing - Magic used by Empusa to heal Ywaine's leg.
ii.  Remote Viewing - Used by the witches to communicate.
iii.  Obfuscation - Used directly by Empusa on Dishwater Sal.
iv.  Shape changing - Used on others by Empusa (a lad into a goat and a girl and a goat into a man) and Dishwater Sal on Tristran (into a mouse).
v.  Necromancy - Limited with the curse and with the doll used to animate Septimus's corpse.
5k.  Items of Magic - The babylon candle, the rope, the gem, the flower of protection...
5l.  Artifacts of Great Power - Not really, except the heart of a start.
5m.  Religion - There was a bishop with no obvious powers.
5n.  Mythical creatures 
i.  Dragon - No.
ii.  Unicorns - Yes.
iii.  Griffins, Rocs, Sphinx - No.
iv.  Giant Things - No.
v.  Supernatural Creatures -  No.
vi.  Raised creatures - No.
vii.  Nameless Beast - No.


RULE #6 - The Quest

"The little I know about love is that it's uncondityional. It's not something you can buy."
"Hang on! This wasn't about me buying her love. This was a way for me to prove to her how I felt." ~ Tristan.
"Ah... And what's she doing to prove how she feels about you?" ~ Yvaine.

6a.  The Artifact - Yvaine, the star, is the artifact of the film.
6b.  Destroy the Dark Lord - Not directly, but it eventually becomes necessary.
6c.  Save the Heroine - Yvaine has to be saved at least twice.
6d.  Unite the races/Raise an army - Does not happen.
6e.  Prophecy - Just the way the kingdom is inherited, and that's more rules than a prophecy.
6f.  Other events:
i.  Win a Contest - N/A.
ii.  Stop an Execution - Stop the murder of Yvaine.
iii.  Stop a Wedding - Actually, Tristran originally sets out to stop an engagement.  Although he could do it, he doesn't.
6g.  The Hero's Journey - See below.

RULE #7 - The Hero's Journey: Departure

"Tristan. Tristan. Yvaine is in grave danger. A unicorn came to help her, but now they're heading into a trap. No star is safe in Stormhold. The last one fell 400 years ago and was captured by the same witches who seek Yvaine now. They tricked her, cared for her, and when her heart was once more aglow they cut it from her chest and ate it." ~ Voice of the stars.

7a.  Secret Origin
i.  The Chosen One - One of the possible heirs to the kingdom (but this is only known by one person.)
ii.  Orphaned - His father is still alive, but his mother is absent (though alive).
iii.  Revenge - None.
7b.  Ordinary World
i.  From Earth - Sort of.  Tristran grew up on Earth, but he was concieved and born in Stormhold.
ii.  Peaceful Lands - The town of Wall is quiet and peaceful despite being the town that guards the breach in the wall.
7c.  Initial Tests - Tristram is beaten up by Humphrey and the wall guard.
7d.  The Call to Adventure - Seeing the falling star.
7e.  Refusal of the Call - Doesn't happen.
7f.  Supernatural Aid
i.  Meeting with the Mentor - Not really.
ii.  A supernatural guide - Claims that ability naturally.
iii.  May be given a magic item or artifact - Given a few by his father and later Captain Shakespeare.
iv.  The Party will begin to form - No party, just Tristran and Yvaine.
7g.  Crossing the Threshold - Literal in the case of the Wall.
7h.  Belly of the Whale - Slowly occurs.

RULE #8 - The Hero's Journey: Initiation

"They're going to kill us, aren't they?"
"I don't know."
"You know, it's funny. I used to watch... I used to watch people having adventures. I envied them."
"You ever heard the expression 'Be careful of what you wish for'?" ~ Tristan.
"What, so ending up with my heart cut out - that will serve me right?" ~ Yvaine.

8a.  The Road of Trials - Few: the fake tavern, captured by friendly pirates, turned briefly into a mouse.
8b.  The Vision Quest - N/A.
8c.  The Meeting with the Goddess - Yvaine.
8d.  Lure away from Journey - Only if you consider impressing Victoria his actual quest.
8e.  A Greater Power - Empusa.
8f.  The Ordeal - Apotheosis/Death - No.
8g.  The Ordeal - Descent into the underworld - No.
8h.  The Ultimate Boon - Yes.

RULE #9 - The Hero's Journey: Return.

"Yvaine, hold me tight and think of home." ~ Tristan.

9a.  Refusal of the Return - Doesn't want or need to return home.  His father and his crush and her husband are invited to the wedding.
9b.  The Magic Flight - Almost literally with the Babylon Candle.
9c.  Rescue from Without It is Yvaine's powers that win the day.
9d.  The Crossing of the Return Threshold - Happens briefly prior to the ending.
9e.  Master of Two Worlds - Three, really.  Dumping Victoria, frightening Humphrey and inviting them to his wedding showed mastery of his English life.  He was a long lasting happy king of Stormhold.  They later move to live with the stars...
9f.  Freedom to Live - To live forever.

RULE #10 - Sequels/Remakes/Adaptations

"They ruled for 80 years. But no man can live forever, except he who possesses the heart of a star, and Yvaine had given hers to Tristan completely. When their children and grandchildren were grown, it was time to light the Babylon Candle. And they still live happily ever after." ~ Narrator.

10a.  Adaptation - An adaptation of the illustrated novel of the same name.
10b.  Sequels - No sequel.
10c.  Remakes - No remake.


"I mean, even if I could... Everlasting life? I imagine it would be kind of lonely. Well, maybe if you had someone to share it with. Someone you loved. Then it might be different." ~ Tristan.

  • Rules that are followed in this film:  1, 2, 5, 6, 9, 10.
  • Rules that are partially followed, or not clear, in this film:  3, 4, 7, 8.

~ DUG.

No comments:

Post a Comment