So this week in at AMC I take a look at the evil queens of Fantasy.
One of the biggest draws to fantasy is the nobility — the Kings and Queens who exert dominion over magical lands. But there’s an interesting trend with Queens: They have a striking tendency to be evil. Forget “Who’s the Fairest.” Let’s talk body count.
Of all the landscapes in cinema, there’s one over which fantasy has almost exclusive domain: Death. What happens after we die is a subject we find ourselves eternally fascinated with, and it’s a question only a bit of surreality can hope to answer. Not surprisingly, each fantasy movie has its own theories about the afterlife. In presenting them, fantasy allows us to examine the darker and lighter sides of the human condition.
Confession: I’m a hopeless romantic, but I’ve never had that much interest in Valentine’s Day. My husband and I celebrate the day after Valentine’s because that’s when we met, but that’s the closest the day ever comes to having any significance for me. In a lot of ways, Valentine’s Day resembles a romantic fantasy in structure: People cram all the trappings of a romance into a single day, and typically disregard any resemblance to real life in the process. I know a lot of people who base their ideas on true love from what they see in fantasy — and for that reason love the holiday. The problem is that what makes for good romance in a fantasy flick isn’t necessarily what you should look for in real life, on Valentine’s Day or any other.
My new column is up at AMC. This week I take a look at ethnic diversity in fantasy films, or the lack thereof.
One of the draws to fantasy for me has always been the rich worlds and strange cultures inherent in the genre. Give me the wide world of Middle Earth and I’m a happy girl: Elves and hobbits and humans, oh my. And I was happy in that fantasy world, until a friend of mine asked, “Where are the brown elves?” It’s funny how just one question will make you see things through a different lens: Can it be that the only characters in The Lord of the Rings who are black are the orcs? Sadly, yes.
I’ll be interested to hear your responses so stop by and comment.
My new column is up at AMC on real world locations for fantasy.
Location, location, location. That’s the one piece of advice every real estate agent will give you when talking about where to live or start a business. It’s also an important component in fantasy movies set in the real world. As we’ve discussed before, fantasy requires an escape from the laws of the natural world, so when a movie borrows from a real metropolis it has to in some way transform that city into something fantastic. Each location lends its distinct flavor to the fantasy, becoming a player as integral to the story as the actors. Let’s leave the mundane world behind and tour of some of these fantastic, real cities.
With all the computer woes on Friday, I forgot to let you know that my new column is up at AMC.
Welcome to the New Year! Around this time, people are probably going to start asking you, “What’s your resolution?” Personally, I always have trouble coming up with a good one, and by that, I mean one I’ll actually keep. A couple of years ago it was, “No dirty dishes in the sink,” which isn’t glamorous but does get the dishes done. This year I decided to turn to fantasy movies for inspiration. After all, much of fantasy is driven by oaths, promises and wishes which, let’s face it, are at the core of resolutions. Here are a sampling of fantasy flicks and the resolutions they might inspire.
My AMC column on Fantasy Fashion in 2008 went live this morning, but I was busy hanging out with my mom and my niece in pursuit of fashion. Granted, it was in one of Dante’s unnamed concentric circles of hell — the mall the day after Christmas — so these fashions from Fantasy films might be a little more palatable.
I’m a fashion hound any day, so one of the things I love most about fantasy is the clothing. You see, fantasy heroes’ wardrobes are as integral to their characters as the weapons they wield and the spells they cast. After all, where would Gandalf be without his pointed Wizard’s cap and long flowing robes? He’d probably look like a homeless person. 2008 was a strong year for fantasy flicks to be sure, with characters battling undead mummies, journeying to the center of the earth and visiting magical lands where Lions rule — but how did they look while doing it? Let’s find out.
I am a total sucker for Christmas. Complete. To my very core, sucker for Christmas. Every year, my extended family descends on the house my grandfather built for a Norman Rockwell affair: We’ve got third-cousins twice-removed, there’s caroling, dinner for thirty-four people and a talent show. So it should come as no surprise that I have a soft spot for Christmas movies, so many of which by their very nature fall into the fantasy category. Christmas is, after all, a time for magic, so here are my favorite Christmas movies that celebrate the season with a healthy dose of magic and wonder.
Like with anything else, if you watch enough fantasy movies over a long enough period of time, you’ll start to notice certain trends emerging. Today we’re going to take a look at one of those trends: The evolution of women in fantasy from game pieces to players — or to use a chess metaphor, from pawns to queens. Since we’ll be looking at one of the most traditional female archetypes in all of fantasy — the romantic lead — I am deliberately restricting the movies we discuss to more traditional fantasy, or as they say in the biz, “high fantasy.”
My column at AMC is up and this time we cover the question of pets in fantasy. Also I’m happy to announce that my column now has a title — Reel Fantasy. Many thanks to Berry who suggested it when I asked for help. Drop me a line with your mailing address and I’ll send a treat over.
Meanwhile, here’s a teaser from Reel Fantasy.
This holiday season children in countless homes across the country are begging for their first pet (Barack Obama, I’m looking at you). Parents, you know the drill — you might have even been through it before, once upon a time. Sure you could go the puppy, kitten, goldfish route. But if you suspect your child is destined for fantastic, heroic things, perhaps you’d rather pick a pet with a little more pizazz. You see, the pets in fantasy films are more than just low-IQ companions; they play a vital role in the lives of the heroes. So if you want your child to survive his or her epic adventure, you might just want to consult this buyer’s guide for fantasy pets.
Rob and I have been watching Torchwood and trying to figure out the appeal. Last night as we were heading out to Fabulous Girl’s birthday celebration, I finally realized what the appeal is and why it wasn’t hitting me as strongly as other people. Behold, I present a pictorial demonstration.
Please note that this is the way Rob normally dresses when he’s not working at the winery. Witness the period correct suspenders.
So, I can understand, now, the appeal that Torchwood has to other people.
My column at AMCtv.com is up and this week I’m asking the question, “Why do fantasy films always kill the parents?”
If you’re like most Americans, you spent yesterday saturated in turkey and surrounded by family. This is the season for family, and as much as we might love our families, there are will be times over the next month when we’ll think that life would be so much easier if we didn’t have to deal with them. But think about what would happen if they actually weren’t around. There’s a curious tendency for heroes in fantasy movies to be orphaned, or at least separated from their parents by some great calamity. Why is it so hard for fantasy heroes to hold onto their parents? Well, there are actually several different benefits to orphaning the young lad or lady. Today we’ll take a look at what happens in fantasy when you take the parents out of the picture.
Swing by and add your take on the tragic role of parents in fantasy films.
Two weeks ago we talked about movies you might not think of as fantasy that do in fact fall into the category. That got me thinking about movies that look like fantasy, but really aren’t. In broad definition, a fantasy evokes a sense of wonder by moving you out of the natural world. Sometimes it breaks only one rule, sometimes it establishes a whole new set of rules, but it’s always at least a step outside the realm of reality. At the other end of the spectrum, there are some beautiful productions that have all of the trappings of fantasy without breaking any rules at all. For us fantasy geeks, that means a wider range of movies to watch and enjoy; for those still timid about diving into the genre, these flicks are the perfect gateway drug. So today, let’s take a look at films that aren’t by definition fantasies, but are chock full of the things we love.
I’m going to turn off the comments here, but I’d love to hear what you think about the subject over at AMC. I’ve already got one person who disagrees with me on one of my picks. What are your thoughts?
Once upon a time, my brother called to ask if I’d seen Pan’s Labyrinth. I had, and I raved about it, carefully avoiding spoilers. Later I found out that he’d taken a girl to see the movie as a first date. Bad move! As brilliant as that film is, it’s also profoundly not a good first-date flick; taking a date to see something that leaves you distressed, grossed out and sad is not the best plan. A good date movie shapes the subsequent emotional responses so it needs to be chosen with thought. With that in mind, allow me to guide you through the steps of a relationship, movie by movie.
Stop by the AMC site and let us know what films led you to happily ever after.
Edited to add: Since the AMC folks can tell the success of a column in part by the number of comments, if you all wouldn’t mind making any new comments over there instead of here… It would help ensure that I stay hired. Many thanks!
(Tor Books – July 14 2020) Mary Robinette Kowal continues her Hugo and Nebula award-winning Lady Astronaut series, following The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky, with The Relentless Moon. The Earth is coming to the boiling point as the climate disaster of the Meteor strike becomes more and more clear, but the political situation is already overheated. Riots and […]