Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sword And Sorcery Movies

While I don't believe it's exhaustive, a relatively comprehensive list of Sword and Sorcery movies can be found at Jesse Acosta's Sword and Sorcery Guide website. In addition to his listing, he also provides an overall rating (out of four stars) as well as sub-ratings for how much "sword" and how much "sorcery" are in each of those movies. Here is a list of what Jesse Acosta considers to be the three and four-star Sword and Sorcery movies, along with his ratings.

**** 13th Warrior

**** Army Of Darkness

**** Beastmaster

**** Conan The Barbarian

**** Dragonslayer

**** Jason And The Argonauts (Harryhausen)

**** Lord Of The Rings (Peter Jackson version)

**** The Hobbit (Rankin+Bass version)

*** Black Cauldron

*** Clash Of The Titans (Harryhausen)

*** Conan The Destroyer

*** Dark Crystal

*** Excalibur

*** Highlander

*** Labyrinth

*** Ladyhawke

*** Princess Bride

*** Red Sonya (Schwarzenegger version)

*** Sword and the Sorcerer

*** Willow

I could quibble about his ratings, or the fact that Highlander is included while Sword In The Stone, Heavy Metal, Fire And Ice and Sleeping Beauty are excluded, but it is a good start if you are looking for Sword and Sorcery movies nevertheless. Of the 20 movies listed, I have not seen four of them, a deficiency I intend to correct.

I would have a difficult time chosing my favorite from among these movies, but if pressed, might pick 13th Warrior. Lord Of The Rings is a close second.

How many have you seen? How many do you own? And what's your favorite?


David J. West said...

I have seen all of these, and own most of them. I keep meaning to see "Fire and Ice" but never have yet.

I will also strongly argue that "Brotherhood of the Wolf" should be included in listing of the very best S&S movies.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I've heard good things about brotherhood of the wolf. There's another, Russian, movie whose name escapes me at the moment, but several bloggers have trumpetted its virtues from the temple mount.

Trey said...

Yeah, I'd say his rating were off, and there are others I see that are missing, but they probably aren't 3 star or more films.

Lord Gwydion said...

I've seen all of them except for The Sword and the Sorcerer, and own 9 on DVD.

I guess I'll need to check out his site to see how he's really rating them. As a film, for example, Conan the Destroyer is shite, but as inspiration for D&D, it's awesome.

Jetmaniac said...

Wolfhound (Volkodav) (Russian)
The Witcher / The Hexer (Polish)
Deathstalker 1-4
Ator, the Fighting Eagle
Hawk the Slayer
The Archer and the Sorceress
Barbarian Queen 1-2
The Warrior and the Sorceress

trollsmyth said...

Wolfhound is the Russian one, and it's far better than it has any right to be. ;) The ending's a bit anticlimactic, being a special-effects finale that kinda undercuts a lot of the action up to that point.

Brotherhood of the Wolf is great, but if you're including that one, you need to toss in the Pirates films.

Bakshi did a version of The Hobbit? I know he did the (first two books of) Lord of the Rings, but I don't remember him doing the Hobbit.

I'd include Legend on this list, and leaving Krull off this list is a crime. ;p

Dave Cesarano said...

I'd actually suggest that The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson doesn't fit--it's high fantasy, which is very different in tone and feel from S&S as much as hardboiled noir by Raymond Chandler or James Ellroy is from Agatha Christie or Conan Doyle. I'd say the same for The Dark Crystal.

Interesting that The 13th Warrior is listed, which has no virtually no sorcery (unless you consider the casting of the bones and such). Regardless, it has lots of S&S trappings. It's great for showing how an experienced party of adventurers can (and perhaps should) work together as a team.

Heavy Metal had a few S&S sequences, but lots of it was more SF than S&S.

Loved many of the films listed.

For D&D inspiration, I'd also include Flesh and Blood (with Rutger Hauer!) on the list. Heavy on sword, sorcery being absent (it's a more historical flick).

anarchist said...

I was surprised to see The Princess Bride on there, since it has a 'fairy tale' look rather than a Conan-like one. But it sort of fits his definition he uses.

Tedankhamen said...

What about all those great Italian barbarian films?? Sabrina Siani was the queen of sword and sorcery during my youth - if you haven't seen her films, do yourself a favour and google them!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

trollsmyth said...
Bakshi did a version of The Hobbit? I know he did the (first two books of) Lord of the Rings, but I don't remember him doing the Hobbit.

Sorry, that was Rankin+Bass.

JB said...

I've seen all of these, and I own several. I've also seen Fire & Ice, and the other films listed here.

Krull should be on the list in the 4 star rating. I'd change Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans for 13th Warrior. And if you're going to consider "The Hobbit" as S&S, you should also include the Rankin/Bass version of Peter S. Beagle's "The Last Unicorn."

Oh...and if you're going to include Army of Darkness (?), I'd include the Russian Daywatch and Nightwatch. But again, are these S&S? Or just fantasy?

faustusnotes said...

what about Shrek?

I agree Brotherhood of the Wolf, though great, is not S&W. As well include The Hound of the Baskervilles. I think kung fu-fighting French 18th century peasants deserve a genre of their own.

Regamer said...

I've seen all these films, the listed ones at least; not necessarily all the ones in the comments. What's weird is that I was rewatching the Black Cauldron and Fire and Ice last night.

As for Lord of the Rings not being S&S enough, for some reason the animated versions scene in Bree always gave me a sword and sorcery vibe.

Does "Flight or Dragons" count at all, or is it to fairy tale? And what about "The Barbarians" with the body building twins (I re-watched that one recently too....ouch).

steelcaress said...

What's the most amusing part of this list is, even though the author seems to know what S&S is traditionally, many of these films don't fit into that mold.

There is, however, in the film biz, a genre called "Sword & Sorcery," and it includes such titles as "Conan" (traditional S&S) and "Legend" (more fairy-tale-ish). Anything that has dudes in armor or wizards casting spells is what Hollywood thinks of as "Sword & Sorcery." It used to be called "Sword & Sandals" when the gladiator and bible movies dominated.

Quite a few of these make my list as fun movies, however, regardless of the S&S tag. Except Conan the Destroyer (everything, even the music, was watered down in that movie), Willow (hobbits again, *yawn*), and Legend (if you put any more gauze in that film every cast and crewmember would have suffocated).

I liked the animated version of LotR better, in some ways, because it was truer to the story. They just needed some serious help with the visuals -- Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit was better by comparison.

And where are Viking Queen and any of the Beowulf movies (particularly the Christopher Lambert version)? Or Krull and Le Pacte des loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf)?

Jay said...

I've seen most of these, though not all. Looks like it's missing the Sinbad and Hercules flicks.

Excalibur, Argonauts, and Titans are among my personal favorites. Guilty pleasures include Beastmaster, Willow and Labyrinth (the latter of which I think fits more in the Fairy Tale genre).

Princess Bride is a great film all around, though I wouldn't necessarily consider it S&S. Miracle Max's magic while impressive, isn't all that showy. By it's inclusion though, then shouldn't Holy Grail qualify as well?

R.R. Hunsinger said...

Sorry I am late to the conversation and it looks like it was a great one. I tend to agree with many of the observations concerning rating, omissions, and that some films do not fit into the S&S mold, such as Lord of the Rings. I have seen all the above films and own ten of them, I think. Fire and Ice should be on this list. 13th Warrior is very S&S, with its trappings. Thanks for the great post!