Before super fans of obscure sword and sorcery pics get their hopes up at the blog title, this project failed to launch.
Most people talking off the cuff think of the 1982 Conan the Barbarian film as the one that started the 80s fantasy movie boom. They may be right in terms of the film’s success creating the cash-in factor, but the style and scope of films like The Sword and the Sorcerer (also 1982) come from the low budget British film Hawk the Slayer. It was released in 1980. Most people like me, who were around ten when Hawk hit home video and were D&D playing teens as all these films came out, also saw the Ralph Bakshi rotoscoped Lord of the Rings (1978). It was a good time. The ’78 Rings film did not create the spark though, that was for sword and sorcery to do with Hawk the Slayer.
Side note, if you say ‘Aragorn’ to me, I think he looks like he does in the Baskhi film. And he sounds like John Hurt.
Although inevitably blended, sword and sorcery books became refined into a distinct modern genre through opposition to Lord of the Rings’ conservatism and old British Empire values. However, there’s almost nothing of the progressive values and experimentation in the films, just a sheen of playing more wild and loose with the setting and elements, and a sometimes playful tone. But, when you think of how a film like Hawk came to be, you have to remember that in the 70s, authors like Michael Moorcock and experimental values in art were well known and revered. It was the same in early video games, think Jeff Minter in the U.K. I guess Krull is pretty out there, mind you. chalk up one for experimentation.
In July it was announced that the makers of Hawk the Slayer had successfully pitched a sequel “Hawk the Hunter.” It was reported here in the Guardian that they had put together a Kickstarter package: the funding and plan from the studio was dependent on part of the money coming from Kickstarter, to show that there was still an audience out there for a niche film such as this. However, the campaign failed, quite badly, and it’s all off for now. There is a detailed write up of the whole process, with great analysis of other funding projects, here at Hero Press.
I think we probably do need a new sword and sorcery film. Not a CGI propped homage, no matter how cool it would be for me personally. We need one that harks back to Moorcock, that is progressive and experimental, that is an antidote to committee film making and all the conservatism. Surely the success of Game of Thrones will go some way to get fantasy pitches listened to. Also, in a bizarre repeat of history, we’ve just had some Lord of the Rings films, and they also seem strangely detached from the rest of the genre. Anyway, I don’t suggest devouring books for films, it’s time to get an original project, that writes for the screen, unbound.
And no, it’s not going to be either the WoW movie or the recently greenlighted D&D movie. Pity.