The Fantasy Film provides a clear and compelling overview of this revitalized and explosively popular film genre. Often overlooked by scholars who feel it unworthy of serious consideration, the fantasy genre is also troubled by the difficulty of classifying films that often bear little resemblance to one another and that straddle related genres like horror and science fiction. The recent success of Hollywood blockbuster and independent films alike has sparked critical interest in the fantasy film and re-invigorated discussions of its unique generic qualities.
Providing in-depth historical and critical overviews, The Fantasy Film explores the boundaries of fantasy throughout history and the expansion of this important genre in contemporary film. Covering early classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Harvey, recent entries like Spider-Man and Shrek, and blockbuster series such as The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, this clear and definitive introduction is the ideal companion for film students and scholars alike.
About the Author
Katherine A. Fowkes is Professor of Media and Popular Culture Studies in the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication at High Point University. She is the author of Giving up the Ghost: Spirits, Ghosts, and Angels in Mainstream Comedy Films (1998).
Table of Contents
List of Plates ix
1 What's in a Name: Defining the Elusive Fantasy Genre 1
2 Once upon a Time: A Brief Historical Overview 15
3 A Brief Critical Overview: Literary and Film Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror 38
4 The Wizard of Oz (1939): Over the Rainbow 55
5 Harvey (1950): A Happy Hallucination? 68
6 Always (1989): Spielberg's Ghost from the Past 81
7 Groundhog Day (1993): No Time Like the Present 92
8 Big (1988): Body and Soul/"Hearts and Souls" 104
9 Shrek (2001): Like an Onion 114
10 Spider-Man (2002): The Karmic Web 124
11 The Lord of the Rings (2001-3): Tolkien's Trilogy or Jackson's Thrillogy? 134
12 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005): A Joyful Spell 145
13 Harry Potter I-VI (2001-9): Words are Mightier than the Sword 156
14 Conclusion: Imagine That! 171
What People are Saying About This
“With celebratory spirit, wicked scholarship and impish wit,Katherine Fowkes mines the labyrinth of cult classics and boxoffice hits, striking Fantasy’s mother lode right wheretimeless stories meet popular culture – and where fans andtheorists collide.Readers will find this book as illuminating andentertaining as the great films of the genre.” Catherine Warren, President, FanTrust Entertainment Strategies& FanTrust.com
"A lively, informative, and much needed work on contemporarycinema’s most lucrative genre. Fowkes’sdiscussion of fantasy films and their constitutiveelements—from rabbits to reincarnation and homes toHogwarts—is a thought-provoking and invigorating read."Harry Benshoff, University of North Texas
"This is a terrific, well-written survey of the fantasy filmgenre. Theoretically sophisticated and well-groundedhistorically, it provides illuminating readings of the most popularrecent examples of a genre that’s never been morerobust." Peter Brunette, Reynolds Professor of FilmStudies, Wake Forest University, and Film Critic, The HollywoodReporter.
"The Fantasy Film is an exciting and readable adventureinto the formulas and pleasures of films unjustly neglected infavor of their genre kin. This book will help remedythat." Janet Staiger, University of Texas
"Fowkes’s book provides a lively, informed and accessibleintroduction to the important area of Fantasy Film. Theauthor’s enthusiasm for her subject is unmistakeable as shemoves from classics such as The Wizard of Oz to contemporaryfantasy blockbusters such as the Lord of the Rings trilogyand the Harry Potter movies." Peter Hutchings, NorthumbriaUniversity
“An illuminating analysis of key American fantasy films,from The Wizard of Oz to The Lord of the Rings. Thisstudy has a keen eye for the literary antecedents and the manyguises of fantasy, including comics and animation film." ErnestMathijs, University of British Columbia
"Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and filled withinsight, this is a graceful tribute to an important but elusivegenre that is often overlooked. Katherine Fowkes has a deepand wise appreciation for these films that will enlighten those whoknow them well and inspire those who have not seen them to fire uptheir Netflix queue and start watching." Nell Minow, BeliefnetMovie Critic