Thursday, February 21, 2013


Stardust (2007) : Believing in Magic

                Magic has been something we have all want to believe exists. From witches and wizards to magical creatures, the possibilities of our imagination are endless. In the film, Stardust, directed by Matthew Vaughn, magic does indeed come to life. Through the use of computer graphics, set design, costumes, and various other special effects, Stardust invites us to believe in magic again.
                All the scenes in Stardust contain an element of special effects adding to the appeal of the film to lovers of the book as well as the lovers of computer graphics. The film is an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. The movie wasn’t very popular in the box office, but its special effects make the book come to life. As a fan of the novel and the movie, I believe the casting, costumes, and make-up were flawless. As a result of that, the special effects add ethos to the film as the characters came to life with make-up and costume. The magical kingdom of Stormhold and its inhabitants also transform from fantastic to realistic.  In the article “Stardust: VFX Wizards Conjure Up Fallen Stars, Flying Ships & More”, the author, Alain Bielik, explains the processes that Stardust uses to create a magical world on the other side of the wall. Many of the processes include complicated and integrated ideas to create the special effects. The glow surrounding Yvaine was created using, “two main methods: optical flow data to allow for the movement and intensity of the glow within the shots, a technique combined with noise to create an organic feel, plus proprietary plug-ins to create and animate the beams"(Bielik 3). While I don’t understand the technical terms of the special effects, I do know that the results are convincing. The special effects add to the believability of the film. Yvaine’s glow is one reason we know she is the star that fell, so without the glow we won’t know or fully consider she is the star. The make-up on the three witches also adds to the ethos of the film. Their appearance as old and decrepit hags adds to their credibility and believability as witches. Stardust’s special effects add incredibly to the film’s ethos and logos. In Understanding Movies, Giannetti claims that movies have become more about the special effects than the message of the movie itself, “The world’s screens are dominated by soulless movies full of sound and fury, signifying nothing: pointless chases, explosions, gratuitous violence, explosions, lots of speed, explosions, and just for good measure, more explosions. The story is usually predictable, the acting bereft of nuance, the sentiments banal. But the special effects are impeccable” (Giannetti 35). The only thing Giannetti got correct about Stardust is that its special effects are impeccable. The story is a heartfelt classic leaving us celebrating the strength of love and family. We experience the love between Tristan and Yvaine all throughout the film, but one particular scene confirms their love for each other. In that scene, Yvaine uses her star power of shining to kill the last witch. We are able to see Yvaine shine and kill the witch. If we hadn’t seen Yvaine shine, as I said before, we wouldn’t believe she is the star. We also wouldn’t believe that she truly loved Tristan, but since the scene of true self-sacrifice is shown, we can believe in magic. The special effects add to the pathos also because we needed to see Yvaine shine.
                Matthew Vaughn did an excellent job bringing the world of Stardust to life. The special effects created a realistic kingdom for magic. Special effects are a reason for us to believe in magic. Without magic, our imaginations would fail to go beyond the impossible.
I give this movie 3/3 movie tickets.

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