Skip to main content


By Noelle Buffam · March 26, 2011

Fantasy film is a genre that incorporates imaginative and fantastic themes. These themes usually involve magic, supernatural events, or fantasy worlds. Although it is its own distinct genre, these films can overlap into the horror and science fiction genres. Unlike science fiction, a fantasy film does not need to be rooted in fact. This element allows the audience to be transported into a new and unique world. Often, these films center on an ordinary hero in an extraordinary situation.

Examples of Fantasy Film:

The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring:When a young hobbit is trusted with an ancient ring, he must travel to fires of Mount Doom in order to destroy it.

Star Wars: Episode IV- A New Hope – Luke Skywalker joins the Rebel Alliance and tries to save Princess Leia from the sinister Darth Vader.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone – After discovering his true identity as a wizard, Harry Potter takes on adventures at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Fantasy Film Sub-genres:

Bangsian Fantasy

Bangsian Fantasy is a sub-genre of film that includes a plot that revolves around the afterlife. These films explore the concepts of Heaven and Hell, through different religious sects. Often, Bangsian Fantasy will incorporate Greek themes. Many films in this sub-genre base characters off of living beings.

Examples: The Lovely Bones, What Dreams May Come, A Matter of Life and Death.

High Fantasy

High Fantasy is a sub-genre that emphasizes a developed fantasy world. These films tend to be more complex than regular fantasy films. The complexity shows itself through highly woven story lines and intense character development. High Fantasy films can be based on novels and therefore have a cult following of fans. Many of these films will have sequels and prequels.

Examples: The Chronicles of Narnia, The NeverEnding Story, Eragon.

Sword and Sorcery

Unlike High Fantasy film, Sword and Sorcery films tend to be more plot-driven. These films rely on heavy action and battle scenes. Common themes in Sword and Sorcery films include a rescue mission, saving a princess, and battling a fantastical monster. The worlds and characters in these films are often much less developed than in other fantasy sub-genres. Of all the Fantasy sub-genres, Sword and Sorcery is most likely to be geared towards a younger audience, as many of these films are animated.

Examples: Conan the Barbarian, The Sword in the Stone, Legend.