THE MOVIE: Stardust (2007)
THE PAIRING: Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) and Yvaine (Claire Danes)
THE “CLASSIC” ROMANTIC MOMENT: Yvaine confesses her love for Tristan while believing he can’t understand her because he’s been turned into a mouse. He later reveals he heard her confession of love and that he returns her feelings. Then the couple seal the deal with a kiss.
Stardust is one of those movies that really doesn’t get enough credit in my opinion. Now this is coming from a fantasy and fairy tale fanatic, so said opinion is slightly biased. Stardust is very much a fantasy film in the tradition of The Princess Bride. It is a more mature fairy tale, akin to the original dark and often gruesome fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm as apposed to the lighter Disney versions of the genre, but modulates the darker elements with hefty doses of comedy and romance.
The romance that blossoms between Tristan and Yvaine during their journey to, oddly enough, bring Yvaine (a fallen star) to the spiteful and downright nasty Victoria, whom Tristan believes is his true love, is one of the best examples of an old-fashioned romance I’ve seen in a long time. Claire Danes is charming as Yvaine, with her lack of experience in the romance department making her sometimes awkward and sweetly innocent romantic interactions with the kind and boyishly sweet Tristan (who is also a novice in the area of love) just plain adorable. You can’t help but root for this pair of lovebirds.
I had a difficult time deciding just which moment I should highlight, as there are numerous ones that would melt anyone’s heart. I couldn’t help but at least mention the first time Tristan and Yvaine dance together on a pirate ship floating in the sky, but the moment I want to focus on is Yvaine’s honest and touching confession of love and Tristan’s swoon-worthy response.
THE LEAD IN – Stardust
The relationship between Tristan and Yvaine does not start on the best foot. He first meets her after she’s been knocked down from her perch in the sky. So, what does he do upon meeting this beautiful woman? Why he binds her hands so that he can drag her back to the horrid, stereotypically popular mean girl Victoria as a birthday present and bribe to get her to marry him. Definitely not the best first impression. Yvaine’s comment on this is priceless when she says, “But of course! Nothing says romance like a gift of a kidnapped injured woman!”
However, the two slowly fall in love during their journey, and Yvain shows Tristan what true love really is. Their genuine love poses a stark contrast to Tristan’s superficial infatuation with Victoria.
One moment I couldn’t possibly leave completely out was the first time the couple dance. While Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro) is teaching Yvaine to dance, he reveals that he knows Yvaine is actually a fallen star because her love for Tristan has begun to make her glow (literally). A moment later Tristan approaches and cuts in for a chance to dance with Yvaine. We then witness just how right Captain Shakespeare is when Yvaine immediately begins to shine brightly.
And now we finally come to the Romantic Moment. After Tristan and Yvaine are captured by an evil witch named Ditchwater Sal, Tristan is turned into a mouse and they are locked up in the woman’s gypsy-style caravan. Thinking that Tristan can’t understand anything she says since he’s currently a mouse, Yvaine breaks down and confesses her love for him.
THE ROMANTIC MOMENT – Tristan Thorn and Yvaine, the Fallen Star
While sitting in Ditchwater Sal’s makeshift jail cell, Yvaine begins talking to Tristan in his mouse form thinking he can’t understand her. At first, this comes off somewhat comical, with Yvaine passionately speaking to a mouse, who happens to be staring right back at her as if listening intently. Thinking Tristan has no idea what she is saying, Yvaine pours her heart out to him.
“You know when I said I knew little about love? That wasn’t true. I know a lot about love. I’ve seen it, seen centuries and centuries of it, and it was the only thing that made watching your world bearable. All those wars. Pain, lies, hate… Made me want to turn away and never look down again. But to see the way that mankind loves… I mean, you could search to the furthest reaches of the universe and never find anything more beautiful.
So, yes, I know that love is unconditional. But I also know it can be unpredictable, unexpected, uncontrollable, unbearable and strangely easy to mistake for loathing, and… What I’m trying to say, Tristan is… I think I love you. My heart… It feels like my chest can barely contain it. Like it doesn’t belong to me anymore. It belongs to you. And if you wanted it, I’d wish for nothing in exchange — no gifts, no goods, no demonstrations of devotion. Nothing but knowing you love me, too. Just your heart, in exchange for mine.”
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Skip ahead a short while and we find Yvaine and Tristan in an inn, with Tristan back in his human form. Yvaine, believing her confession was a secret that only she knows, is taking a bath in their room when Tristan barges in on her. What follows changes both of their lives.
After putting on a towel, Yvaine looks to Tristan, a question in her eyes, waiting for him to tell her why he needed to speak to her. Looking somewhat nervous and sweetly vulnerable, Tristan asks, “Did you really mean what you said in the caravan?”
Becoming understandably distressed at discovering he understood everything she said while he was a mouse, Yvaine sputters, “What I…? But… You were a mouse! You were a mouse… you wanted cheese! You didn’t… I asked you to give me a sign!”
Tristan replies, “And risk you being too embarrassed to keep saying such lovely things?” kissing Yvaine on the forehead. He goes on, “You want to know what the Captain really whispered to me that day?” After Yvaine nods in response, Tristan leans close and softly tells her, “He told me that my true love…”
At this hint as to what Tristan is leading up to, Yvaine begins to shine brighter and brighter.
Tristan continues, “…was right in front of my eyes. And he was right.” And the two love birds finally kiss for the first time, with Yvaine shining so bright you’d think some nosy neighbor would have noticed.
The romance between Tristan and Yvaine perfectly demonstrates the kinds of emotions, slow build up, and subtlety of an old-fashioned romance. This old-fashioned romance builds slowly, marked by subtle romantic interludes that make their budding romance sweet and a perfect example of the kind of fairy tale romance that will sweep any romantic off their feet.
What did you think of the fairy tale romance between Tristan and Yvaine in Stardust? Did you love the moment Tristan revealed he loved Yvaine as much as I did? Let me know in the comments!
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