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Jeff Watkins
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Sunday, January 26, 2003

Whats Your Fantasy?

I find it quite interesting that when I am trying to find a topic to post about that the solution to my problem suddenly presents itself. This is not me trying to defend my tastes or try and persuade anyone to see things my way, because I really don't care if people agree with me or not. This is basically my viewpoint on fantasy as a genre of entertainment, and why it is important and should not be overlooked.

Fantasy in it's most basic form is imagination. Imagination is something that we use to take us away from reality. When most people hear the term "fantasy" they often conjur up images of dragons, wizards, magic,and strange creatures. Which is actually true to a certian extent. Most people also seem to think that fantasy films and literature are under par when compared to other forms of media. The Oscars almost always ignore fantasy films when it comes to anything other than visual effects or sound, so than the few times that a fantasy movie would even be nominated for a Best Picture, it it almost destined to lose. Back in 1977 when Star Wars was released it was nominated for Best Picture but lost to Annie Hall, which no one really seems to remember anymore whereas Star Wars launched a phenomenon of moviemaking that has forever changed the way we look at cinema. The Lord of the Rings books are considered the best works of fantasy (and perhaps literature) ever written. It very well could be the greatest book ever written. So as Jerry Seinfeld would say........"Whats the deal with fantasy?"

Fantasy by nature are usually stories of underaverage people doing above average things. These characters, though in a fictional made up world, are easily related to us as humans. Their struggles become our struggles, and we begin to empathize with the characters. Every person in the world dreams of amounting to something and being successful, and yet we all know the odds that are thrown in our way. We get slowed and weighed down by our lives and we lose sight of what we really want to become. We sometimes feel like Frodo Baggins succumbing to the evil in the One Ring, and we may even give up on our dreams, and let the odds take us. Frodo can give us hope. He was a virtual nobody, just your average person (or Hobbit for the purists) who was minding his own business. His task to destroy the Ring was something beyond his ablity, and all the forces of evil was out to stop him. However he pressed on and overcame the odds. There is something special about a story like that, even though it sounds very simplistic. It's a story about all of us.
Right now with the amazing success of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, we can see that fantasy is again on the rise. People are wanting to hear and see stories like that, and I am not just talking about skinny white kids who sit in front of computers and play Dungeons and Dragons all day. I am talking about all kinds of people from every walk of life. When the first Lord of the Rings film came out in 2001, college professors from Oxford stepped out of their library and bought a ticket. Some of these guys had not watched a movie in the theater in 20 years! They went because they had a deep love for Tolkien's story.
It's very sad to me that people have disreguarded fantasy and written it off as something intellectually void, and without substance or depth. I actually think fantasy delves deeper than any other genre of media, because it takes us to places we have never been, but would like to go. There is so much truth in fantasy.In Lord of the Rings we see Gandalf the Wizard comforting Frodo when he is wrought with dispair and wishes he had never found the Ring. Gandalf says " So do all who live to see such times, but all you have to do is learn to use the time that is given to you". Or when Yoda the Jedi Master is chastisizing Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back, he says "do or do not, there is no try", trying to get Luke to understand the simple concept of pressing forward to accomplish goals. These ideas are simple, but sometimes it's the simple things that we forget and need to be reminded of.
I don't really expect my little rant to change to world, or anyones ideas, but this was just my thoughts on fantasy and how I look at fantasy-related films and books. So go home pop in Star Wars and go preorder the next Harry Potter book, and take your mind to a different place.

posted by Justin at 5:51 PM


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