The emergence of fantasy film

Rachel Hoerman

The emergence of fantasy film
by Rachel HoermanIt’s been a turbulent, albeit blockbuster year for Hollywood. After a slow start and a disappointing summer of teen flicks, where the likes of ****************The Fast and the Furious**************** (2001) raked in a ridiculously undeserving $144,512,310*, 2001 still managed to produce some of the most top-grossing films that tinsel town has ever known-largely due to the pioneering and exploration of a genre whose marginal existence has been a constant struggle between popularity and ruin.
The world of fantasy film is a paradoxical one at best, which has produced, over the years, some of most scathingly criticized films and best-loved movies of countless childhoods, and some adulthoods as well. Movies like **************Conan the Barbarian**************** (1982), **************The Dark Crystal************** (1982), ***************The Never-ending Story ***************(1984), ****************The Princess Bride*************** (1987), and *****************Willow****************** (1988) have led double lives in the film industry. Their harsh receptions by certain critics made their underground popularity and overall brilliant reception amongst the common populace no big surprise. People, especially children, always love a good story, and all the better if it’s outrageous, unorthodox, and at first, rather unusual. We have no farther to look than the success of the ****************Harry Potter************* books to tell us as much.
The success of J.K. Rowling’s masterful tales prior to Sept. 11, and the state of the nation afterwards allowed this once largely ignored and most certainly under appreciated genre to step into the limelight of big money, unhindered success, and the open exploitation that accompanies it.
This past year, fantasy films stepped up to the plate in an industry and a country where sex and violence sell. Films like ************Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone*********** (2001) and **************The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring************** (2001), provided an alternative to the longstanding hallmarks of American film: blood, skin, and guns. These films offered the same thing fantasy films have always done: an escape-a three-hour grace period between redundant and wearying headlines about war, blood, and devastation. A place fantasy film has always occupied.
Fantasy film saved the year in movies, and did much more. It resurrected itself from a shadowy half-existence beside the typical Hollywood movie fare through the tragedy of current events, the lasting appeal of one author’s work-J.R.R. Tolkien’s ***********The Lord of the Rings************* trilogy, and the mass appeal of another-J.K. Rowling’s **************Harry Potter************* series. The year in entertainment has, if nothing else, proved a claim made by ************Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring************** director Peter Jackson, who recognized fantasy film as the last, and perhaps the greatest, unexplored frontier.