Why I Write Fantasy: The Three Fours #4: Clearly I Have a Type

So while writing about Highlander, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and The Crow, I couldn’t help but notice the common elements that the movies shared.

In no particular order.

1) A narrated opening. All three start with someone speaking, telling you a story. Yes, apparently I’m five, and still like to be tucked up in bed and told a story. Who knew that a writer likes being told stories?

2) Doomed love Story. Connor and Heather, Vlad and Elisabetre(my spelling, it’s how he says it, to me)/Mina, Eric and Shelly. I’m an old school Romantic at heart.

3) Fantastic sound track. Each one works to enhance the plot, visuals and characterization. Each movie would be far weaker without those musical choices.

4) Arresting visual style. I would argue all three of these movies have this. Two, Highlander and Dracula also have the scene transitions as a motif too, most prominent in Highlander, but the eye of the peacock feather transforming into the railway tunnel immediately brought Highlander to mind on a recent viewing of BS’sD.

5) Strong and interesting villains. The villain is the star of one, steals the show in another, and there is a whole ecosystem of them in the third. A far better treatment of villains than in your run of the mill movie, in my opinion, is evident in these three films.

6) Self-contained story. None of these films require a sequel. Unfortunately two got them anyway.

7) Gothic or ornate settings. Highlander is a little of the odd one out here, but still has a very rich sense of setting, both in the past and the present. The 80s New York is at times very well evoked, but can seem a little weak too – the Silver Cup scene and the underground garage are a bit lifeless in comparison to the lushness of other parts of the film.

That’ll do for now – crazy eh? I’d like to add another couple of my favorite films also share many if not most of these characteristics: Blade Runner, and Hero. Narration or text crawls, doomed love, glorious soundtrack, visually arresting, all present in abundance. Fantastic villain – here Hero is the odd man out because the whole film *spoiler* is the story of the presumed villain being discovered not to be worth killing, and could indeed lay claim to being the Hero of the title – though of course I’d say it was Broken Sword, myself. A majestic film. Self-contained stories, yes – though 2049 is a great sequel, though mildly soporific for me despite my appreciation of it. Gothic/ornate setting – oh yes, both have that in spades. More ornate (and epic) for Hero than Gothic. But Chinese gothic exists in my mind at least!

So there you have it – I have a type for movies I’ll go and see four times, and for other movies I’ve watched far too many times at home! When you think about it, do your favourite films share a lot more in common that you’d think at first glance?

2 thoughts on “Why I Write Fantasy: The Three Fours #4: Clearly I Have a Type

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