Origins of the Fantasy Film

Best Fantasy Movies of All Time
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Caligari , , Metropolis , and the vampire movie Nosferatu , known for its chilling visuals and trick photography. Hans Richter b. The advent of sound film in was accompanied by innovations in special effects, creating new possibilities for cinematic fantasy.

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Though not as dark or gruesome as the German silent films, Hollywood's spate of monster and horror films in the s, such as Dracula and Frankenstein , used a similar bag of special effects tricks, including miniatures and stop-motion photography to create fantastical creatures such as the ape in King Kong , created by special-effects pioneer Willis O'Brien — On a lighter note, the remake of The Thief of Bagdad delighted audiences with its vibrant colors and fantastic scenarios.

By the s, science fiction had emerged as a major genre in its own right. Playing on fears of nuclear holocaust and anxiety associated with space travel , most science fiction films used special effects to create frightening aliens from outer space or monsters created by atomic radiation. Japanese filmmakers introduced their own infamous monster in Gojira Godzilla, King of the Monsters , The confluence of sound, special effects and Technicolor could also yield a more light-hearted type of fantasy, as evidenced by the perennially popular musical, The Wizard of Oz Combining song and dance within a fairy-tale narrative, the film drew on the conventions and sensibilities of the musical, a genre known for creating its own particular versions of utopian and romantic fantasy.

The combination of music and fantasy has long been a hallmark of Disney films. Perhaps best known for its work in animation, Disney has specialized in fantasy stories since its inception, with a heavy emphasis on musicals and children's fare.

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Classics such as Pinocchio and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs , hailed as the first full-length animated film, were precursors to the recent trend in animated musicals like The Little Mermaid While many fantasy films are intended for youthful audiences and are derived directly or indirectly from children's books or fairy tales, some successfully operate on the adult level as well. The term "family film" often denotes films like Shrek that appeal to all ages by combining fantasy worlds with clever animation and more sophisticated humor.

Children's stories, fairy tales, and myths have influenced many American fantasy films, yet other cinematic strands of fantasy could be found in the "art" films of Europe, which often featured innovative, complex, and sometimes disturbing fantasies. Eschewing narrative coherence, the Surrealists used vivid set pieces, special effects, and montage to explore the possibilities of cinema as an expression of subversive and subconscious impulses.

In , the two applied their artistic sensibility to the politically explosive feature L'age d'or The Golden Age. Avant-garde and experimental filmmakers pushed the boundaries of cinematic expression, but fantasy also continued to flourish in more traditional forms. Current audiences are familiar with Disney's animated version of the story, but for many, Cocteau's black-and-white, live-action fantasy remains the quintessential version. The multi-talented Cocteau was a painter, poet, and dramatist who is also remembered for his experiments in surrealist and avant-garde techniques.

Founded in the early s, the Surrealist movement concerned itself with the connection between reality and fantasy, rationality and the unconscious. By harnessing and combining these opposing spheres, the Surrealists attempted to create a kind of "super-reality" characterized by disturbing, irrational, and dream-like images. While many employed shocking images in order to critique the status quo, Cocteau devoted himself to the aesthetic ramifications of the movement.

Inspired by the myth of Orpheus, this short experimental film used dream-like images to suggest the sacrifices that the artist makes in the service of art. In Beauty and the Beast , Cocteau created a more traditional, full-length narrative. Beauty is frightened by the growling Beast and by the enchanted manor he inhabits.

Bodiless human hands usher Beauty into the castle and magically serve her dinner, while lifeless statues periodically awaken to observe her actions. Cocteau used simple but clever mechanical effects to create these and other celebrated moments of cinematic fantasy.

Ultimately, Beauty and the Beast come to love one another, and when the Beast is killed at the end of the film, he turns into a prince as he and Beauty fly into the sky in a romantic embrace. Jean Marais plays three characters here: the Beast, the Prince, and Beauty's original suitor Avenant , who simultaneously changes into the Beast just as the Beast is transformed into the Prince. Set in modern-day France and once again starring Jean Marais, the film tells the story of Orpheus and his lover Eurydice as he follows her into the underworld following her death. Here and in other films, Cocteau employed a mirror motif to connote either a window into a distant place or a portal into another world.

Cocteau was elected to the French Academy in Cocteau, Jean. Beauty and the Beast: Diary of a Film. New York : Dover, Evans, Arthur B. Philadelphia: Arts Alliance Press, Fraigneau, Andre. Cocteau on the Film: Conversations with Jean Cocteau. Elsewhere, Sweden's Ingmar Bergman b. And in Japan, Kenji Mizoguchi — produced the ghostly Ugetsu monogatari Beginning in the late s, Hollywood experienced a renewed interest in science fiction and fantasy, stoked in part by the films of George Lucas b. Star Wars and E. Star Wars drew inspiration from Kakushi-toride no san-akunin The Hidden Fortress , , directed by the well-known Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa.

The s also saw a spate of medieval sword and sorcery films, spurred by the popularity of the role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons. While films such as Dragonslayer and Ladyhawke were not widely popular, they paved the way for the hugely successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, the first of which premiered in That same year, the runaway success of the Harry Potter children's books spawned the franchise for another film series about magic and heroism with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone In the s, Ghost emerged as the most popular among a series of supernatural melodramas that eschewed horror for comic or dramatic stories.

Many supernatural melodramas drew inspiration from earlier films.

Fantasy Magical Adventure Films- Best Adventure Movie

The Preacher's Wife , Michael , and Meet Joe Black provided variations on a type of non-horror, supernatural film that had experienced popularity in the s and s—for example, The Bishop's Wife , Here Comes Mr. Jordan , and Death Takes a Holiday In the United States and elsewhere, it was computer-generated imagery CGI that most affected the look and feel of cinematic fantasy in the s and s.

The technology didn't truly come of age until the underwater fantasy The Abyss and later Toy Story , an "animated" film made completely with computer imagery. The Matrix introduced a striking new approach to the choreography of action and fight sequences.

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The Matrix also drew inspiration from Japanese anime films such as Mamoru Oshii's b. The book will be invaluable to students and fans of the fantasy genre. Introduction 1. Approaching Fantasy Film 2.

Original Format

One of the first filmmakers associated with. Fantasy films have a history almost as old as the medium itself. However, fantasy films were relatively few and far between until the.

Fantasy, History and Cinema 3. Fantasy, Authorship and Genre 4. Fantasy, Childhood and Entertainment 5. Fantasy, Imagination and Interiority 6. You can unsubscribe from newsletters at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in any newsletter.

Best historical/fantasy epic Movies

Some of the earliest were Georges Melies' fantasy silent film about a trip to the Moon, Voyage Dans La Lune , Fritz Lang's expressionistic Metropolis , German with a nightmarish view of toiling urban workers, and producer Alexander Korda's Things to Come Director Merian C. O'Brien's marvelous stop-motion animation.

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Blade forms an uneasy alliance with the vampire council in order to combat the Reapers, who are feeding on vampires. Director — Louis Leterrier. Published: 27 Nov If only there were more HAL and less gorilla suits. Sunday 17 November

Frank Capra's wonderful philosophical romantic fantasy Lost Horizon brought a group of plane crash survivors to the fabled and idyllic Shangri-La hidden within a snowy Tibetan mountain pass. Producer Alexander Korda's dazzling Technicolor, costume fantasy adventure, the multi-Oscar winning The Thief of Bagdad , UK - masterfully retold the Arabian Nights tale of the land of magic carpets featuring a giant genie and an evil vizier. The frightening story of a man who wished for eternal youth, another type of fantasy film, was The Picture of Dorian Gray - a stylishly-sophisticated twist to the Dr.

Jekyll and Mr. Hyde tale. Jean Cocteau's lyrical and romantic French film La Belle et la Bete aka Beauty and the Beast , adapted from an 18th century fairy tale, featured a repellent Beast and a beautiful woman. The whimsical, comical film Harvey also starred James Stewart as an inebriated man who has an imaginary over-six-foot-tall rabbit as his companion. And Vincente Minnelli's lyrical musical fantasy Brigadoon told the fanciful legendary tale of a Scottish village of the same name where the inhabitants awakened only once every years.

A Critical Introduction

Both George Pal and Ray Harryhausen created and designed some of the best stop-motion animation and special effects in many great fantasy films that combined animation with live action. Finally, Pal succeeded with MGM's musical fantasy of the Grimm's fairy tale Tom Thumb , his first directed film, winning his fourth effects Oscar. Pal's next directorial effort was for an adaptation of H. Wells' book, the visual effects Oscar-winning fantasy adventure The Time Machine , with Rod Taylor as the curious time traveler to the year , - a world populated by gentle Elois and hideous Morlocks.

In his later career, Pal was also involved in the three-panel "Cinerama" feature fairy tale The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm with a dancing princess, elves and a fire-breathing dragon, and 7 Faces of Dr. Lao a fantasy comedy-western about a mysterious, traveling medicine-show showman Tony Randall who changes himself into such varied 'faces' as Medusa, Merlin the Magician, the Abominable Snowman, and a Talking Serpent. Mainstream live-action adventure fantasies, highlighted by special effects from Ray Harryhausen a protege of early stop-motion animator Willis O'Brien - the creator of King Kong , featured grotesque giant monsters, fabulous Greek mythological, or medieval Arabian figures.