I'm 47, and so have lived through some few eras of film. Loving fantasy as a genre, particularly sword and sorcery, I recalled some of the films of my youth recently, as well as some that came before me, and realized that, while the genre has been underrepresented among genres for many years, there have been a fair share of them, with mixed quality. I'm not really talking of fantasy in the vein of The Wizard of Oz
here--I'm talking high fantasy of The Lord of the Rings
sort, with the tropes of wizards, dragons, and the like.
I think, for the most part, that the technology of special effects prevented the realization of many novels in the fantasy genre that would make excellent films. Just recently, Terry Brooks' Shannara series was brought to television, and it joins a growing list of novels that have been brought to the silver screen more recently. But let's not forget the long list of fantasy films that came before. Some were from fairy tales or myth, and some were created strictly for film. Perhaps you're a fan of fantasy films, and have not seen some of these. Even if not all of them are of the quality of Peter Jackson's Rings
trilogy, some are well worth watching, for various reasons.The Beastmaster
-- An 80s film, with a character who resembles a World of Warcraft hunter in many aspects. Rip Torn plays the vilain...Fire & Ice
-- One of those rotoscoped 80s cartoon fantasy films, this one was based on the artwork of Frank Frazetta. If you like Conan-style stories and plot, this one will do it for you.Ladyhawke
-- Knight, princess, and rogue, played by Rutger Hauer, Michele Pfeiffer, and Matthew Broderick, with a unique twist on lycanthropy as a curse laid on the knight and princess. Did I mention that I got my teen crush on Michele Pfeiffer from this film?The Thief of Baghdad
-- Based on one of the 1001 tales of Scheherezade (like Ali Baba and Sinbad), this 1940 version was one of the first films to use bluescreen for special effects. Lots of swashbuckling-style fun. I saw this when I was 22 or so, and loved it. Jaffar is in it as the evil vizier sorceror, but no Aladdin--there is a prince trying to marry the princess, and a thief named Abu that Jaffar at one point turns into a dog, not a monkey. Abu kinda steals the show, and for a 1940s film it was nice to see they actually cast a non-white guy as the djinn.Dragonslayer
-- The first film to use George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic that wasn't made by George Lucas. Ralph Richardson plays a wizard, and Peter MacNicol, his apprentice, who are sent for to kill a dragon named Vermithrax Pejorative...yeah, dragons always seem to get the cool names. In Latin, that comes out to 'The Worm of Thrace who makes things worse'. And he does. A young Ian McDiarmid plays a good village priest in this, but doesn't end much differently than the Emperor he plays in Return of the Jedi
. For the time, the dragon animation was awesome.The Dark Crystal
-- This is a surprisingly good fantasy film made by Jim Henson, using only puppets for characters. Sort of hard to explain, it has to be seen to be believed.Wizards
-- A 70s animated post-apocalyptic science fantasy animated film by Ralph Bakshi. Yeah, it has his usual weirdness and rotoscoping in parts, but it is a good weird.
These are only a handful, and I wanted others to post fantasy films of the past they enjoyed. I left out popular and/or cult films like Willow
, and Princess Bride
...I also left out films I haven't seen, like Stardust
and Flight of Dragons
. What have you seen that you'd recommend?