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Nature Spirits of the World

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~ Faery Movies To See ~

Yorinda and Yoringel in the Witches Wood

John Duncan, 1909, Yorinda and Yoringel in the Witches Wood

     When a fantasy movie is really well done it can truly transport you to the Realm of Faerie. There are many excellent movies that take place in the Realm of Faerie or have Faery themes. I have selected some of my favorites and have listed them below:


    I have to start my list with J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings Trilogy. J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the first modern authors to write about elves and nature spirits in a manner that is closer to the ancient tradition. They had awesome powers, were beautiful, and somewhat taller than humans. They also were held in awe and somewhat feared by humans. His portrayal of Galadriel is closer to this tradition. The Victorians prior to this had transformed fairies merely into cute little fairies that flew around the flowers. This might be an aspect of the Faerie Realm but not the whole vision.

    Peter Jackson does a great job throughout the three movies of staying fairly close to Tolkien's original vision.


Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003) DVD

    With The Return of the King, the greatest fantasy epic in film history draws to a grand and glorious conclusion. Director Peter Jackson's awe-inspiring adaptation of the Tolkien classic The Lord of the Rings could never fully satisfy those who remain exclusively loyal to Tolkien's expansive literature, but as a showcase for physical and technical craftsmanship it is unsurpassed in pure scale and ambition, setting milestone after cinematic milestone as the brave yet charmingly innocent Hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood) continues his mission to Mordor, where he is destined to destroy the soul-corrupting One Ring of Power in the molten lava of Mount Doom. While the heir to the kingdom of Men, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), endures the massive battle at Minas Tirith with the allegiance of the elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), the dwarf Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) and the great wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), Frodo and stalwart companion Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) must survive the schizoid deceptions of Gollum, who remains utterly convincing as a hybrid of performance (by Andy Serkis) and subtly nuanced computer animation.

    Jackson and cowriters Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens have much ground to cover; that they do so with intense pacing and epic sweep is impressive enough, but by investing greater depth and consequence in the actions of fellow Hobbits Merry (Dominic Monaghan) and Pippin (Billy Boyd), they ensure that The Return of the King maintains the trilogy's emphasis on intimate fellowship. While several major characters appear only briefly, and one (Christopher Lee's evil wizard, Saruman) was relegated entirely to the extended-version DVD, Jackson is to be commended for his editorial acumen; like Legolas the archer, his aim as a filmmaker is consistently true, and he remains faithful to Tolkien's overall vision. If Return suffers from too many endings, as some critic suggested, it's only because the epic's conclusion is so loyally inclusive of the actors--most notably Astin--who gave it such strength to begin with. By ending the LOTR trilogy with noble integrity and faith in the power of imaginative storytelling, The Return of the King, like its predecessors, will stand as an adventure for the ages. --Jeff Shannon


two towers

Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) DVD

The Lord of the Rings:

    The Two Towers is a seamless continuation of Peter Jackson's epic fantasy based on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. After the breaking of the Fellowship, Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring of Power with the creature Gollum as their guide. Meanwhile, Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom), and Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) join in the defense of the people of Rohan, who are the first target in the eradication of the race of Men by the renegade wizard Saruman (Christopher Lee) and the dark lord Sauron. Fantastic creatures, astounding visual effects, and a climactic battle at the fortress of Helm's Deep make The Two Towers a worthy successor to The Fellowship of the Ring, grander in scale but retaining the story's emotional intimacy. These two films are perhaps the greatest fantasy films ever made, but they're merely a prelude to the cataclysmic events of The Return of the King. --David Horiuchi


The Fellowship of the Ring

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) VHS
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) DVD essential video:

    As the triumphant start of a trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring leaves you begging for more. By necessity, Peter Jackson's ambitious epic compresses J.R.R. Tolkien's classic The Lord of the Rings, but this robust adaptation maintains reverent allegiance to Tolkien's creation, instantly qualifying as one of the greatest fantasy films ever made. At 178 minutes, it's long enough to establish the myriad inhabitants of Middle-earth, the legendary Rings of Power, and the fellowship of hobbits, elves, dwarves, and humans--led by the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the brave hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood)--who must battle terrifying forces of evil on their perilous journey to destroy the One Ring in the land of Mordor. Superbly paced, the film is both epic and intimate, offering astonishing special effects and production design while emphasizing the emotional intensity of Frodo's adventure. Ending on a perfect note of heroic loyalty and rich anticipation, this wondrous fantasy continues in The Two Towers (2002). --Jeff Shannon



Dreams (1990) VHS

Dreams (1990) DVD

    This movie is by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa and has English subtitles. It is especially relevant today because it deals with humanity's relationship over time with nature. This is done through eight separate short films. It also covers the Japanese interpretations of nature spirits which is fascinating for an audience unfamiliar with them. For example in the beginning we see a boy secretly watching a wedding among fox spirits which are powerful Japanese nature spirits. This has severe consequences for him. Later we see the Peach tree spirits of trees men have thoughtlessly cut down. This is an especially visually beautifully part of the film. Later we meet a snow spirit who saves the lives of hikers stranded on her mountain during a snow storm. He even includes a short film featuring Van Gogh and how nature fueled his creativity. Later he shows the extreme negative effects of humanity not living in harmony with nature. He shows the dangers of nuclear radiation and how there is no escape from it and how it deforms nature and people. The last story shows a village that lives in harmony with nature and shows the benefits they reap. It is a thought provoking film.

    It is really unfortunate that western civilization has lost its connection with the natural world. In Japan the indigenous religions coexisted with Buddhism. People still follow Shinto practices in Japan today. I think this is part of the reason they have more respect for nature. Western indigenous religions were mostly wiped out by Christianity. Faeries are what is left of our nature religions.



Willow (1988) VHS
Willow (1988) DVD

    This epic Lucasfilm fantasy serves up enough magical adventure to satisfy fans of the genre, though it treads familiar territory. With abundant parallels to Star Wars, the story (by George Lucas) follows the exploits of the little farmer Willow (Warwick Davis), an aspiring sorcerer appointed to deliver an infant princess from the evil queen (Jean Marsh) to whom the child is a crucial threat. Val Kilmer plays the warrior who joins Willow's campaign with the evil queen's daughter (Joanne Whalley, who later married Kilmer). Impressive production values, stunning locations (in England, Wales, and New Zealand) and dazzling special effects energize the routine fantasy plot, which alternates between rousing action and cute sentiment while failing to engage the viewer's emotions. A parental warning is appropriate: director Ron Howard has a light touch aimed at younger viewers, but doesn't shy away from grisly swordplay and at least one monster (a wicked two-headed dragon) that could induce nightmares. --Jeff Shannon


Fairy Faith

The Fairy Faith 2001 VHS

The Fairy Faith 2001 DVD

    From the Back Cover A fairy is a tiny being with wings that looks like a person but possesses powers of magic and enchantment. According to legend, fairies can change the weather, alter aspects of nature and bestow magical gifts such as intelligence and plenty. They can also lure humans to their islands where all is happiness and no one ages or gets sick...however, once brought to these mystical places, there is no escape. Join filmmaker John Walker on a quirky and compelling journey through Ireland, England, Scotland and Cape Breton in search of the child's imagination in a rational world. This unique look into the realm of fantasy traces the popular fascination with fairies and is vividly brought to life with gorgeous cinematography and an enchanting soundtrack.


The Magic Legend of the Leprechauns

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999) VHS

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999) DVD

    There's a war goin' on in this bit o' blarney, but it's more than the feud between the fairies and the leprechauns, upon which most of the overwrought tale hangs. It's also a struggle between competing, derivative story lines in this bloated, plodding film that can't decide what it wants to be. It's part Romeo and Juliet, via the seemingly doomed romance of the princess fairy and teenage leprechaun; part contemporary romance, with an uncomfortable-looking Randy Quaid in the romantic lead; and a large part unfocused fable that fills out its Irish stew with a feud reminiscent of Ireland's Catholic-Protestant conflict while throwing in fantastical Braveheart-style battle scenes and Riverdance-like interludes. The most stunning scenes are the fairy sequences that take place in a futuristic castle in the sky (think Wizard of Oz meets Star Wars) and the epic battles with innovative leprechaun bark-and-stick armor. It all makes for a jumble of a long movie, which originally aired as a miniseries on NBC. --Valerie J. Nelson



Legend (1986) VHS
Legend(1986) DVD essential video:

    This strange, 1985 experiment by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) starred the up-and-coming Tom Cruise in a fairy-tale world of dwarfs and unicorns and demons. After the horn of a unicorn is broken, darkness and winter descend upon the world. Cruise's character, helped along by a magic sprite played by David Bennent (The Tin Drum), descends into hell to save paradise. This movie is almost a classic case of art direction gone amok. The somewhat amorphous Cruise doesn't lend much dramatic focus or artistic definition, but the drama between Tim Curry's satanic majesty and Mia Sara's character, who becomes a sort of princess of the netherworld, is pretty captivating. A mixed experience all around that makes one wish it had been more successful. --Tom Keogh




Excalibur (1981) VHS
Excalibur (1981) DVD

    I feel that this is the best depiction so far of the legend of King Arthur. This story follows Malory's Le Morte De Arthur pretty closely. It shows the role Merlin played in Arthur's kingdom and also his half-sister Morgan Le Fay. In addition in a very mystical scene it shows how Arthur gained the exalted sword excalibur from the Lady of the Lake, a member of the Realm of Faerie.



Guinevere (1993) VHS.
Guinevere (1993) DVD.

    This is a non-traditional view of Guinevere. In this movie she followed the old Celtic religion and worshipped the Goddess and the God. She was taught by priestesses. She also was like the ancient warrior queens of Great Britain. It showed how she loved Lancelot long before she ever married Arthur. This is a really interesting take on the legend and a worthy addition to anyone's collection. People into the Arthurian tradition or interested in the Goddess will especially love this film.


The Secret of Roan Inish

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) VHS

The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) DVD

    This is an excellent movie, it is simply enchanting. It was filmed on the West Coast of Ireland and the scenery alone is gorgeous. The tale is about a young girl, Fiona who never gives up the hope of finding her lost little brother. She is sent back to the coast to live with her grandparents and there she discovers that her family is descended from a selkie (seals who can take a human form) and that her brother has been living with them because they left the coast. When the family returns to their roots and lives by the sea once again the little boy cautiously returns home. It is very magical and sweet. It is a perfectly fine movie for both children and adults.

Fairy Tale

Fairy Tale: A True Story (1997)

    This is the story of Elsie and her cousin Frances who took the Cottingley photographs of faeries as little girls. It tells their story and how they became involved with the theosophical society. The special effects in this movie are incredible when the faeries are around them it looks incredibly realistic.

Photographing Fairies

Photographing Fairies (1998)

    This is a more adult version of the above film, which deals with the Cottingley photographs. sums it up as:
The film follows not the children, but Charles Castle (Toby Stephens), a young photographer who loses his beloved wife on their honeymoon. A shell of a man through World War I, Castle rediscovers faith when he is convinced the fairy photographs have not been faked (in a superb sequence reminiscent of Blowup). Castle makes a pilgrimage to the site where he discovers--in anot her vast departure from the other movie--narcotic flowers and erotic fairies that dazzle his spirit. Ben Kingsley costars as the down-to-earth preacher set to make his town right again.

The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal (1982) VHS
The Dark Crystal (1982) DVD says:
    Recalling the worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien, Henson tells the story of a race of grotesque birdlike lizards called the Skeksis, gnomish dragons who rule their fantastic planet with an iron claw. A prophecy tells of a Gelfling (a small elfin being) who will topple their empire, so in their reign of terror they have exterminated the race, or so they think. The orphan Jen, raised in solitude by a race of peace-loving wizards called the Mystics, embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of the Dark Crystal (which gives the Skeksis their power) and restore the balance of the universe. Henson and codirector Frank Oz have pushed puppetry into a new direction: traditional puppets, marionettes, giant bodysuits, and mechanical constructions are mixed seamlessly in a fantasy world of towering castles, simple huts, dank caves, a giant clockwork observatory, and a magnificent landscape that seem to have leaped off the pages of a storybook.


Labyrinth (1986) VHS
Labyrinth (1986) DVD

    This film is still one of my favorites, it stars Jennifer Connelly and David Bowie. It is magical and the sets are incredible. says:
Sarah (a teenage Jennifer Connelly) rehearses the role of a fairy-tale queen, performing for her stuffed animals. She is about to discover that the time has come to leave her childhood behind. In real life she has to baby-sit her brother and contend with parents who don't understand her at all. Her petulance leads her to call the goblins to take the baby away, but when they actually do, she realizes her responsibility to rescue him. Sarah negotiates the Labyrinth to reach the City of the Goblins and the castle of their king. The king is the only other human in the film and is played by a glam-rocking David Bowie, who performs five of his songs. The rest of the cast are puppets, a wonderful array of Jim Henson's imaginative masterpieces. Henson gives credit to children's author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, and the creatures in the movie will remind Sendak fans of his drawings. The castle of the king is a living M.C. Escher set that adults will enjoy. The film combines the highest standards of art, costume, and set decoration. Like executive producer George Lucas's other fantasies, Labyrinth mixes adventure with lessons about growing up. --Lloyd Chesley


Ladyhawke (1985) VHS
Ladyhawke (1985) DVD

This is the tale of two lovers who were put under a magical spell that made it impossible for them to be together even when they were together. During the day the lady is a hawk (Michelle Pfeiffer) as the title indicates, and during the night the knight is a wolf (Rutger Hauer). Therefore they are never able to see each other in their human forms. This is the tale of how an escaped prisoner (Mathew Broderick) helps them to free themselves from this bondage. It is a beautiful love story sprinkled with magic.

The Never Ending Story

The Neverending Story (1984) VHS says:
    The imagined tale involves another boy, a warrior (Noah Hathaway), and his efforts to save the empire of Fantasia from a nemesis called the Nothing. Whether or not the scenario sticks in the memory, what does linger are the unique effects, which are not quite like anything else. Plenty of good fairy-tale characters and memorable scenes, and the film even encourages kids to read. --Tom Keogh

The Clash of the Titans

Clash of the Titans (1981) VHS

     This movie brings the ancient Greek myths to life. It is very well done and is a classic. It is also the classic tale of the hero's journey and the trials and tribulations that he/she must go through to achieve his/her goals and gain self-realization. It should be a part of anyone's collection.

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