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The best fantasy films of all time

Wizards, elves, dragons, ghosts or angels - all kinds of magical and mysterious creatures cavort in the fantasy genre. But that is by no means exhausted, alongside science fiction and horror, the most important genre of the fantastic film.

Fantasy films take us into strange worlds (“The Wizard of Oz”) and amazing parallel universes (“Pan's Labyrinth”) or allow us to immerse ourselves in legends and myths from different cultures (“Spirited Away”).

As with all genres, the question of boundaries arises here as well. In the FILMSTARTS editorial team, when we were creating the list, we decided to clearly separate fantasy from science fiction, even if there are films that use motifs from both areas (such as the “Star Wars” series).

If the unearthly forces are explained technically or if there is at least a real scientific substructure, we have classified the films as science fiction. If, on the other hand, it is accepted that supernatural or magical powers exist in the world of film, the film is considered fantasy.

After the end of “Game Of Thrones”, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon are looking for the new potential fantasy hit and many well-known book series are (re) filmed, but mostly in series form. So since “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” we've been waiting for the next big fantasy blockbuster in the cinema - but that doesn't mean that there haven't been any great fantasy films in recent years.

The best fantasy films - place 50:
Conan: The Barbarian (1982)

Director:John Milius

With:Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max von Sydow

In 1982 an Austrian bodybuilder known only to insiders took the movie theaters by storm as the scantily clad barbarian Conan. Almost overnight, director John Milius helped the hitherto moderately successful actor to world fame with his barbaric knockout "Conan - The Barbarian". The role of the brute Conan seemed tailor-made for the former Mr. Universe, because there were no big speeches, at most big clubs. So it is hardly surprising that the Barbarian Odyssey manages almost completely without text in the first 20 minutes.

»" Conan - The Barbarian "on Amazon *

The simple revenge story doesn't need much explanation anyway: As a boy, Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has to watch his parents being killed by Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones). Sold into slavery, the young Conan develops over the years into a stately man who now goes in search of the murderer of his parents in order to get revenge on him.

It is precisely from this simplicity that John Milius' fantasy battle record draws its strength, because when Barbar Conan fights his way through hordes of opponents to the powerful soundtrack penned by the American composer Basil Poledouris, then this is masculine cinema art in its purest form.

The best fantasy films - # 49:
The Last Unicorn (1982)

Director:Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr.

With:Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury

With the cartoon "The Last Unicorn", Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr. created a real classic of the fantasy genre, which despite its high kitsch factor still knows how to enchant its viewers to this day. Although “The Last Unicorn” may seem a bit pale and lifeless in terms of tricks, along with similarly themed cartoons from this time (for example “Mrs. Brisby and the secret of NIMH”), the simple animation has a lot of charm due to its dark and sometimes grotesque drawing style .

»" The last unicorn "on Amazon *

But what gives the film a special position among the cartoons of this time is the fantastic soundtrack, which was composed by Jimmy Webb and wonderfully interpreted by the British-American rock band America in cooperation with the London Symphony Orchestra. Songs like “The Last Unicorn” or “Man's Road” not only have a catchy tune factor, but even today allow that 80s feeling to return to the living room at home within seconds.

The best fantasy films - 48th place:
Seven Minutes After Midnight (2016)

Director:YES. Bayona

With:Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones

In "Seven Minutes After Midnight", director J.A. Bayona is the incredibly touching story of 12-year-old Conor O'Malley (Lewis MacDougall), whose mother Elizabeth (Felicity Jones) is seriously ill and dying. As if that wasn't enough, he is also haunted by dreams and visions in which a gnarled tree monster (voice in the original: Liam Neeson) visits him ...

»" Seven minutes after midnight "on Amazon *

But the film based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness is not a horror tale. The supposed monster and the fantastic stories it tells the boy are always metaphors for the sad reality that Conor has to learn to face. So in “Seven Minutes After Midnight” you feel reminded of the magic of the Spielberg films from the 1980s in the best sense of the word, but at the same time the film is told in atmospheric, impressive images and with ultra-modern effects.

The best fantasy films - # 47:

Director:Terry Gilliam

With:Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, John Cleese

When six dwarfs, accompanied by a little boy, embark on a wild journey through time and meet well-known historical personalities such as Napoleon, Robin Hood or King Agamemnon, it sounds like a very strange mixture of “Bill & Ted's crazy journey through the world Time ”and the Disney classic“ Snow White ”.

»" Time Bandits "on Amazon *

In fact, this is the British fantasy classic "Time Bandits", the second self-directed feature film by former Monty Python cartoonist Terry Gilliam ("King of the Fishermen"). Gilliam mixes child-friendly fantasy entertainment with the typical anarcho-comedy elements of the Monty Pythons.

"Time Bandits" was not only Terry Gilliam's door opener to Hollywood, but also a timeless fantasy spectacle about the power of the imagination that tries to break the boundaries of the imaginable in almost every scene.

The best fantasy films - # 46:
The Dark Crystal (1982)

Director:Jim Henson & Frank Oz

With: Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Kathryn Mullen

The world of the dark crystal is ruled by the dark Skekse from their dark fortress. Since only a Gelfling can bring the light back into the crystal and thus free the suppressed Uru, the Skekse prey on all Gelflings.

»" The dark crystal "at Amazon *

"The dark crystal" is a dark and at the same time fascinating fantasy epic. The detailed landscapes of this incredibly imaginative world testify to the passion that the "puppeteers" Jim Henson ("The Muppets") and Frank Oz ("The Little Horror Shop") have invested. A child-friendly fantasy puppet film with captivating images and an extravagant design.

It continues on the next page with seats 45 to 41 ...

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Also working on this special were: Björn Becher, Christoph Petersen, Stefan Geisler, Lars-Christian Daniels, Gregor Torinus, Carsten Baumgardt, Andreas Staben, Matthias Börner, Michael Leutner, Sabrina Moya and Constantin von Harsdorf.