Films often draw inspiration from the wonderful worlds authors create on paper, and fantasy is no different. Watching elaborate and stunning worlds on screen provides a lovely sense of wonder. Fantasy’s only limit is imagination; everything is possible, offering a world perfect for escapism into a different realm full of elves, vampires, and other mythical creatures.
From the Harry Potter series to His Dark Materials, fantasy offers many subgenres for you to enjoy.
Sword and Sorcery
Sword-wielding heroes and violent conflicts are aplenty in this subgenre, filled with personal battles and a touch of romance. In 1961, American author Fritz Leiber suggested the term “sword-and-sorcery as a good popular catchphrase for the field” after British author Michael Moorcock demanded in a letter to fanzine Amra Robert R. Howard’s story be placed under another term.
Robert E. Howard’s Conan books and subsequent film adaptations are great examples of sword and sorcery. Die Nibelungen (1924) is a sword and sorcery series of two films adapted from the epic poem Nibelungenlied dating from around AD 1200, and perhaps one of the first known examples of this subgenre.
This subgenre is also known as “traditional” and epic fantasy, and it’s characterised by an imaginary world setting. The plot and the characters are often connected to epic themes, all ruled by consistent rules. Coined in 1971, high fantasy is attributed to an essay by Lloyd Alexander called High Fantasy and Heroic Romance.
High fantasy is typically set in an alternate world and not in the primary world, or the world as we know it. Examples of this subgenre are J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, often considered one of the first ever examples of high fantasy, and A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin.
In a battle of good versus evil, the heroes tell the story as they discover they’re mysterious and often magical heritage. Their knowing and mystical mentors are often imposing wizards, helping the heroes face the imposing forces of evil.
Also called modern fantasy or urban fantasy, contemporary fantasy is a very popular subgenre. Set in the contemporary world, it is typically composed of both magic and magical creatures not integrated into society. They can either be hidden from human eyes or arriving from alternate worlds.
The Harry Potter series, Supernatural, and Buffy: The Vampire Slayer are great examples of contemporary fantasy. As contemporary fantasy relates to our world as we know it with added magical elements, it easily crosses itself with other genres like detective stories. This subgenre of fantasy lowers your feelings of safety as you watch it, as the action happens in the world we live in.