This was my very first book, published 15 years ago by McFarland and now reprinted in paperback. This thing took me around two years to research. I wrote it in between night shifts splicing together ad reels for movie theatres. My models were the film books that had really expanded my mind in terms of what the genres of the fantastic can do (namely Paul Nicholls's Fantastic Cinema and Kim Newman's Nightmare Movies).
Though Empires never reaches the impossibly high watermark of those books, it was still one of the very first to offer a serious critical survey of fantasy as a genre distinct from horror and science-fiction.
Remember, kids, this was written long before the internet and Stranger Things made Dungeons & Dragons cool. Back then, this sort of thing was the love that dare not speak its name!
A lot of water has passed under the bridge of fantasy cinema since the genre hit the mainstream, but I'm still really proud of this book and stand by pretty much everything it says - not sure I should have been quite so harsh about The Never-ending Story though...
The warlocks and ghosts of fantasy film haunt our popular culture, but the genre has too long been ignored by critics. This comprehensive critical survey of fantasy cinema demonstrates that the fantasy genre amounts to more than escapism. Through a meticulously researched analysis of more than a century of fantasy pictures—from the seminal work of Georges Méliès to Peter Jackson’s recent tours of Middle–earth—the work identifies narrative strategies and their recurring components and studies patterns of challenge and return, setting and character.
First addressing the difficult task of defining the genre, the work examines fantasy as a cultural force in both film and literature and explores its relation to science fiction, horror, and fairy tales. Fantasy’s development is traced from the first days of film, with emphasis on how the evolving genre reflected such events as economic depression and war. Also considered is fantasy’s expression of politics, as either the subject of satire or fuel for the fires of propaganda. Discussion ventures into the subgenres, from stories of invented lands inhabited by fantastic creatures to magical adventures set in the familiar world, and addresses clashes between fantasy and faith, such as the religious opposition to the Harry Potter phenomenon. From the money-making classics to little-known arthouse films, this richly illustrated work covers every aspect of fantasy film.
Available from McFarland Books, Amazon UK, Amazon US, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, Blackwells and Waterstones.