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The Fantasy Film

ISBN: 978-1-4051-6878-6
216 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
The Fantasy Film (1405168781) cover image
The Fantasy Film provides a clear and compelling overview of this revitalized and explosively popular film genre.
  • Includes analyses of a wide range of films, from early classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Harvey to Spiderman and Shrek, and blockbuster series such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Harry Potter films
  • Provides in-depth historical and critical overviews of the genre
  • Fully illustrated with screen shots from key films
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List of Plates ix

Acknowledgements xi

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

References 175

Index 186

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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).
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  • Includes analyses of a wide range of films, from early classics such as The Wizard of Oz and Harvey to Spiderman and Shrek, and blockbuster series such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Harry Potter films
  • Provides in-depth historical and critical overviews of the genre
  • Fully illustrated with screen shots from key films
See More

"In true reflection of its straightforward—if generic—title, The Fantasy Film presents a useful foundation for deeper reflection on the complexities of the fantastic in film."  (Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, 1 February 2014)

"Written in prose that is careful and cogent, the book provides a defence of what Fowkes calls the "orphan" genre (unloved; neglected even, perhaps, of questionable legitimacy), one which she argues has long been excluded from serious analysis by "dogmas of realism" that privilege "codes of. . . mimesis." (The Times Literary Supplement, 18 February 2011)

“With celebratory spirit, wicked scholarship and impish wit, Katherine Fowkes mines the labyrinth of cult classics and box office hits, striking Fantasy’s mother lode right where timeless stories meet popular culture – and where fans and theorists collide.Readers will find this book as illuminating and entertaining as the great films of the genre.”  Catherine Warren, President, FanTrust Entertainment Strategies & FanTrust.com

"A lively, informative, and much needed work on contemporary cinema’s most lucrative genre.  Fowkes’s discussion of fantasy films and their constitutive elements—from rabbits to reincarnation and homes to Hogwarts—is a thought-provoking and invigorating read." Harry Benshoff, University of North Texas

"This is a terrific, well-written survey of the fantasy film genre.  Theoretically sophisticated and well-grounded historically, it provides illuminating readings of the most popular recent examples of a genre that’s never been more robust." Peter Brunette, Reynolds Professor of Film Studies, Wake Forest University, and Film Critic, The Hollywood Reporter.

"The Fantasy Film is an exciting and readable adventure into the formulas and pleasures of films unjustly neglected in favor of their genre kin.   This book will help remedy that."  Janet Staiger, University of Texas

"Fowkes’s book provides a lively, informed and accessible introduction to the important area of Fantasy Film.  The author’s enthusiasm for her subject is unmistakeable as she moves from classics such as The Wizard of Oz to contemporary fantasy blockbusters such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter movies."  Peter Hutchings, Northumbria University

“An illuminating analysis of key American fantasy films, from The Wizard of Oz to The Lord of the Rings. This study has a keen eye for the literary antecedents and the many guises of fantasy, including comics and animation film." Ernest Mathijs, University of British Columbia

"Meticulously researched, elegantly written, and filled with insight, this is a graceful tribute to an important but elusive genre that is often overlooked.  Katherine Fowkes has a deep and wise appreciation for these films that will enlighten those who know them well and inspire those who have not seen them to fire up their Netflix queue and start watching." Nell Minow, Beliefnet Movie Critic

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