Lately, I’ve realised that movies and TV seem to be forgetting that fantasy is a thing that exists! I mean, yeah GOT, and the Hobbit movies, but that’s about it! With all the superheros out, and a lot of sci-fi (really good sci-fi by the way) it seems that fantasy has been relegated to a second place. Unfortunately, the fact that a few fantasy themed movies in the last 20 years have been absolutely awful probably doesn’t help – did you guys saw Seventh Son? Well…Don’t! Therefore, I have decided to dedicate this post to some of my favourite classic 80s fantasy movies that actually make a lovely marathon if you are up for it. It only occurred to me when my friend Fergus hadn’t seen them that it is likely many young people these days aren’t even aware of their existence! And that breaks my heart! I was brought up on these movies – in fact, I believe one of them may have even something to do with my name. So, seat back, grab some popcorn and tune in to my old school 80s fantasy selection:
Labyrinth (1986) – If you have not seen this, you’ve immediately lost cool points. Sadly Mr Bowie left this world earlier on this year, for which he is sorely missed. But that makes this film even more worth while. It is a classic fantasy story, silly teenager makes a careless wish – and we all know to be careful with what you wish…Jareth, the Goblin King takes “The Babe with Power” away from Sarah, and we all are transported to a beautiful movie set, full of oubliettes, and interesting little creatures. I mean, if there is a Ludo plush, I want it. Everyone should have a friend like Sir Didymus, and it would be foolish not to believe we all have a Hoggle in our lives. You’d think a movie from the 80s would now look silly – but it really doesn’t. It has aged with grace and charisma. The soundtrack couldn’t be more fun but epic, the puppets are just wonderful and heartwarming, full of detail and characterisation. And Bowie is made for the role, simple as that. Watching Labyrinth always puts me in a good mood.
Willow (1988) – dare I say Val Kilmer’s best film. It is a classic story about how the unlikely hero rises against the challenge, once again to protect a baby. Willow is a very relatable character, he has self confidence issues, he is a happy yet worried fellow, just really trying to get by with his tasks when he gets tangled in this tricky situation. Brownies, fairies, magic and nomad like bandits make the narrative move forward and challenge Willow in his role of protector of Elora. But the dwarf won’t be helpless for long, because Val Kilmer steps in the form of Madmartigan, although he carries his own bagage…Once again, for an 80s movie, Willow still rocks with its lightheartedness, and some pretty amazing acting from Warwick Davis.
The Dark Crystal (1982) – I think I cannot help but cry every time I watch this film! The puppets are so stunning and brilliant. The plot is so much deeper than you’d think at first – environmental messages, social issues: lands and people dying, the old ways being left behind or corrupted, the little wisdom left in the world disappearing without most giving much notice or caring… The role of the Mystics reminds me of that of the Mondoshawans in The Fifth Element – and thinking about it the plot has many similarities – Dark sources of energy/magic that could destroy or fix everything, and that looks to be possess by a classic super villain (applicable to both Skeksis and Zorg). Poor Jen and Kira break away from their isolation and naivety to find our the world is a much more complex place than they thought, and their choices would have a deep impact in the events to follow. Just great – remarkable production values, thoughtful plot, interesting characters, nicely paced, what else you want!?
*Also, if you havent seen them already: check out the POP figurines that are coming out in July for this! They are beyond Awesome!!*
Legend (1985) – Ridley Scott made this, that is all you need to know. A very decent performance from Tom Cruise who otherwise I usually detest, and Tim Curry being evil. Plot. Set. A lot of people seem to have missed this one though…But I adore it. The narrative combines a lot of old mythologies and folklore, the struggle of the forces of light and darkness. And the erratic, reckless nature of faeries is so very well depicted with Princess Lily. I think the unicorns from Legend are to date still some of the most beautifully done I’ve seen on-screen (perhaps topped by Stardust, but I reserve my judgement). In a way, Legend is a classic story of hero saves princess, which is at first what seems to be the aim of the movie – but it is much more than that. Particularly if we consider that for great portion of the movie Jack isn’t even aware Lily is in serious trouble. Legend is about the perpetuation of a myth, beyond the hero’s journey. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions and exceeding your expectations.
And that is all for now. If you’re not watching these classic 80s films…I suggest you hurry up! Popcorn don’t hang around long with someone else eating them! 😉