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 What is a Fantasy Film

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Renediw
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PostSubject: What is a Fantasy Film   Mon May 12, 2008 11:51 pm

The boundaries of the fantasy literary genre are not well-defined, and the same is therefore true for the film genre as well. Categorizing a movie as fantasy may thus require an examination of the themes, narrative approach and other structural elements of the film.

For example, much about the Star Wars saga suggests fantasy, yet it has the feel of science fiction, whereas much about Time Bandits (1981) suggests science fiction, yet it has the feel of fantasy. Some film critics borrow the literary term Science Fantasy to describe such hybrids of the two genres.

Animated films featuring fantastic elements are not always classified as fantasy, particularly when they are intended for children. Bambi, for example, is not fantasy, nor is 1995's Toy Story, though the latter is probably closer to fantasy than the former. The Secret of NIMH from 1982, however, may be considered to be a fantasy film because there is actual magic involved.

Other children's movies, such as Walt Disney's 1937 classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are also difficult to categorize. Snow White features a medieval setting, dwarven characters, the use of sorcery, and other tropes common to fantasy. Yet many fans of the genre do not believe such movies qualify as fantasy, placing them in instead in a separate fairy tale genre.

Superhero films also fulfill the requirements of the fantasy or science fiction genres but are often considered to be a separate genre. Some critics, however, classify superhero literature and film as a subgenre of fantasy (Superhero Fantasy) rather than as an entirely separate category.

Films that rely on magic primarily as a gimmick, such the 1976 film Freaky Friday and its 2003 re-make in which a mother and daughter magically switch bodies, may technically qualify as fantasy but are nevertheless not generally considered part of the genre.

Surrealist film also describes the fantastic, but it dispenses with genre narrative conventions and is usually thought of as a separate category. Finally, many Martial arts films feature medieval settings and incorporate elements of the fantastic (see for example Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), but fans of such films do not agree if they should also be considered examples of the fantasy genre.
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