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PostPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2016 10:50 pm 
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I was looking at some older books and picked up a compendium from my shelf.
The Best From Fantasy and Science Fiction - 22nd Series. (1978)
Of interest here is a piece by their film reviewer, Baird Searles, who in his time was very highly respected. He listed his ten best SF or Fantasy films of all time.
His limits were that he only listed sound movies as he classed silents as essentially a different genre.
Why this is of interest, to me anyway, is to see what a quite respected critic picked 28 years ago and to compare it with what would be there now - and what has been forgotten.
Searles seems to be balancing somewhat, deliberately picking films of different types for his list.
That list is, in no particular order, Frankenstein, Things to Come, The Thing, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Forbidden Planet, 2001, La Belle et la Bete, Fantasia, & Carnival of Souls.
Of a little more interest to me is his runners up. Again in no particular order: The Innocents (made from the Turn of the Screw), The Time Machine, King Kong, Dracula, Dr. Phibes Rises Again(Searles says better than its prequels), Jason and the Argonauts, Blood On Satan's Claw, Village of the Damned, & Zardoz. Three Czech films, The Emperor's Nightingale, The Tales of Hoffman & A Midsummers' Night Dream.

Searles also could not resist doing a list of the ten worst, although he points out that there are a lot more than ten. So he lists exemplars of types of bad. Alphville (trying the TELL US SOMETHING degenerates into boring nonsense) , The Giant Claw (A cheapo stupid that is so bad that it isn't even funny) , Planet of the Apes (errant nonsense passing itself off as SF), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (one bit of inconsistent plotting ruins a beautifully built concept) and The Jungle Book (exemplifying what the Disney treatment can do to a classic.)
Remember it came from a reviewer with the bias of writing in a print Fantasy and SF Mag. If you're interested you can read the article by signing up for a free one month trial at http://books.mx.tl/read-the-best-from-fantasy-and-science-fiction-l4472086.html

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 9:44 am 
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Those are some interesting picks.

I find the inclusion of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Planet of the Apes on his "worst" list to be almost instantly disqualifying though.

Putting The Jungle Book on his worst list is baffling to me. It's a Disney animated film. It's not even making an attempt to pass itself off as science-fiction, and even calling it fantasy seems to be a stretch.

And it really breaks my brain that he includes Zardoz and Dr. Phibes Rises Again on his runner's-up list. While certainly interesting, Zardoz is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination. And Dr. Phibes Rises Again, while fun enough in its own way, is clearly inferior to the original The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

It also seems bizarre to me to include Fantasia in the best of list. I love that movie, and consider it a masterpiece of animation and sound design. I'll watch it over and over, and my favorite attractions at Walt Disney World are the ones that incorporate elements of the movie. But for all that includes the word in it's title, I don't really include it in the genre of "Fantasy" films. If you're going to include a pre-1978 Disney Animated Classic in the list of best or worst, I would submit that Sleeping Beauty is one of the most purely fantasy of all the Disney movies, and includes one of the single most iconic villains in film history in the form of Maleficent. And the animation more than holds up.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 3:48 pm 
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I'm endlessly fascinated by how opinions of film and other art changes over time; how something can be so poorly received in its time and go on to be regarded as a classic, and vice versa. It makes me wonder what movies of the last few years which were disliked/underappreciated will go on to have a critical redemption years down the line...anyone have any candidates?


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:19 pm 
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agentstinky wrote:
I'm endlessly fascinated by how opinions of film and other art changes over time; how something can be so poorly received in its time and go on to be regarded as a classic, and vice versa. It makes me wonder what movies of the last few years which were disliked/underappreciated will go on to have a critical redemption years down the line...anyone have any candidates?


After Earth :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2016 5:59 pm 
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Thanks for responding.
Searles does give a strong justification for Fantasia.
And that is the beauty of the animal sequences, unicorns et al in his Rite of Spring sequence. As well as the clarity of the other pieces, combining them with the classical score. In essence his arguments are beauty and originality. And he was clearly writing about it as Fantasy, part of his beat.

On his worst list, he seems, as I suggested, to have again picked exemplars. JUNGLE BOOK as mangling literature. APES as boring nonsense.
And Searles seems to have been an early objector to mangles of literature, in this case by Disney. I am sure that you are very well aware of the hate expressed by many at the evisceration of Grimm committed by Walt. As the most watched fantasy through 1978 Disney does seem to be fair game.
Personally I would exclude it as an almost separate genre, speaking mostly to a non-adult audience, not judgeable by adult criteria.
He does not say what the plot fault was in INVASION, but again I assume that he was looking at the movie through the prism of literature, in this case the original Jack Finney novel.

The inclusion of horror and animation was what made the list interesting to me. Not being a huge fan of either I thought that Searles was being inclusive in ways that were intriguing. And again, as the critic for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, the publication that was instrumental in bringing a literate quality to both of its fields, not surprising.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2016 10:00 am 
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Looking at it in terms of how faithful (or not) it was to the original literature does provide some insight into the lens that Searles may have used. That said, I think that would be what I most quibble with.

Unless you're specifically making a list about "the best Adaptations of literature within Science-Fiction and Fantasy," it seems to me that the criteria for what makes a good film should be limited to what is on the celluloid (or digital file), not where it came from. I would posit that there are a great many good films that are horribly unfaithful to the work of literature they were drawn from.

I don't automatically think that "Animated" takes a movie out of consideration for science-fiction/fantasy. Akira is very much a science fiction film, as is A Scanner Darkly. And as advances in CGI/motion capture continue, the line between animated and live-action are becoming very much blurred. Is Who Framed Roger Rabbit? an animated movie? What about Mary Poppins? What about a movie like King Kong, where Kong is almost 100% CGI/motion capture? Or The Avengers? And consider this year's remake of The Jungle Book, where the only live-action element was the boy playing Mowgli.

That said, I would still separate out the Disney animated canon from most traditional looks at sci-fi/fantasy as being it's own genre. Especially the musicals. I can see a much stronger argument for including Lilo & Stitch or Atlantis in a list of science fiction films than it feels right for me to include Snow White or Aladdin.

The inclusion of horror films is interesting, but in some senses it's understandable. While there are movies that are very easy to classify as "pure" science fiction or "pure" horror, the overlap between the categories puts a lot of movies into the realm of asking which side of the line they belong on.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 08, 2017 1:51 pm 
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Aaron et al,
I would repeat that Searles employer and beat was FANTASY (and SF).
And for those not familiar with the mag it also published(s) Horror of a particularly literate (and grisly) nature. Particularly in its early days, when I read it regularly.
It published quite a few Stephen Kings before (and after) he was well known. Horror was right there for Searles' consideration on any list. Overlap with Fantasy or SF was not required.
I agree with your point re animation films. But with the exception of Disney & a few oddballs like Gulliver's Travels it had not shown up as a genre when he wrote his piece. Disney was as popular as anything being shown at the time. So he felt that it should be included both positively and negatively.
It's only my 20 20 hindsight (& yours) that puts early Disney as too dissimilar and directed at a different audience to be useful on an overall list.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2018 2:56 pm 
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I was glancing at the posting board in what I expected to be a vain search for something new or interesting.
The world, including fans of the Columbus Thon, has gone elsewhere.

Still, I glanced at some old threads, including this one.
I was a sufficiently annoyed at myself in reading my original post re the ten "Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Films - as of 1978?"
and noticing that I had only listed nine, to go back to my original source. The film I left off was "THX-1138".

No reason to rehash the original discussion, even if there were anyone interested, but I do have a two part question.

Is there any list or commentary on SF and or Fantasy films that anyone has seen that they would recommend?

Or perhaps a new film or three that they would include on a best ever list?

There was a somewhat interesting chat based on a best 100 list that I posted as part of the countdown three+ years ago.

Any list or titles or thoughts that anyone has seen since that they might want to post? Here's the old thread.http://www.scifimarathon.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=1850

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