Thursday, February 3, 2011

What is a Sword & Sorcery Film?

Sword Cinema is composed a several subgenres: Samurai, Ninja, Gladiator, and Crusade films come instantly to mind... but perhaps my favorite Sword Cinema subgenere of all time is the Sword & Sorcery film.  Back in 2006, I presented research on Sword & Sorcery films at the The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts and used the following rationale to guide my inquiry:
Sword and Sorcery became a distinguishable film genre in the early 1980s with such films as John Boorman’s Excalibur (1981), Matthew Robbins’ Dragonslayer (1981), John Milius’ Conan the Barbarian (1982), and Don Coscarelli’s The Beastmaster (1982). In an article intended to define Sword and Sorcery, Howard Andrew Jones writes that:
[w]e call a story sword and sorcery when it is an action tale, derived from the traditions of the pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land, age, or world of the author’s invention – a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real – a story, moreover which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil.
The most important element in this definition is the conflict between the “stalwart warrior” and “supernatural evil,” a characteristic that ties together everything that falls under the Sword and Sorcery classification.

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