Fantasy film

From Academic Kids

In theory fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic or exotic fantasy worlds, as distinct from science fiction films or horror films. The category has as much to do with approach as with context and there is often a good deal of overlap between the genres.

More specifically, the requirements for a fantasy film can be considered to be:

  1. That magic be involved in some significant way.
  2. That a good deal of the film takes place in a setting apart from the ordinary and mundane world. Often, magic defines this setting. An historical setting (especially medieval) can also fulfill this requirement.

Even if these requirements are met, a film will often not be considered a true fantasy film if modern or futuristic technology is involved in a significant way. Thus, although there is magic in Star Wars (The Force), it is usually not considered to be a fantasy film because the technology of space travel and combat is much more important to the plot.

Films featuring superheroes also seem to fufil the requirements of the fantasy genre, but they are widely considered to be a genre all their own.

Animated films are not always classified as fantasy. Many are not considered fantasy films because they lack magic. The toys of Toy Story are not brought to life by magic, as in Pinocchio, but move and talk like humans because that is how the movie operates. However, The Secret of NIMH is a fantasy film, not because it features talking animals, but because there is actual magic involved with the plot.

Surrealist film also describes the fantastic, but it dispenses with genre narrative conventions, and commercial and financial aims, and is usually considered a separate category.



There are many sub-categories of fantasy films that can be identified. The most prevalent of these is High Fantasy and Sword and sorcery. These are the films that are likely to feature medieval-like settings, wizards, magical creatures and the like. Some people consider only such films to "true" fantasy. These films are heavily indebted to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings books.

Another important genre of fantasy films, more popular in recent years, is Contemporary fantasy. Such films feature magic (often figured as the supernatural) in the real world. The most prominent recent example would be the Harry Potter series.


Fantasy as a genre in film has existed since the beginning of films, although the offerings were sporadic until the 1980's, which saw a flourishing of the genre. This trend died off in the 90's, but has been reborn in the new millennium.


Examples of fantasy films include:

  • and many more...

Many fantasy films are considered to be among the ranks of the classics:

Others have become cult favourites:

See also



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