Calista’s Cinema Conversations: Movies with fantastical settings

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Creating a setting that is not positioned in reality is a smart tactic for a director, as it gives an imaginative aspect to the film. Whether it be set in the past, future or present-day, the setting is vital to the magic of the plot. So this week, our conversation will be about films with fantastical or other-worldly settings. 

The most notable and fun setting might be that of the “Harry Potter” universe. Getting an acceptance letter to a magical castle with moving stairs and enchanted chocolate was everyone’s dream growing up. This series features places like Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Godric’s Hollow and even some new places in America found in the new Harry Potter inspired series “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” 

Another imaginative land full of magic and myth is Camelot from the animated film “The Sword in the Stone” and the recent live-action film “King Arthur.” The story of King Arthur, Merlin and the Knights of the Round Table has been the subject of countless adaptations and continues to fascinate people with its heroic story of battles and wizardry in an imaginary medieval land.  

The superhero film genre relies heavily on the existence of fictional settings. The DC comics universe has been known to use the iconic settings like Gotham in “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Metropolis in “Superman” and its newer adaptation “Man of Steel,” Themyscira from Greek mythology in “Wonder Woman” and the lost city of Atlantis in “Aquaman.”

The Marvel Cinematic Universe does the same with its famous settings from their own comic books. There are fictional countries like Sokovia from “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and Wakanda from “Black Panther,” as well as made-up planets like Asgard from the “Thor” movies, Sakaar from “Thor: Ragnarok,” Xandar from “Guardians of the Galaxy” and various planets in last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” Hopefully, there will be an introduction to even more planets and fictional countries in the upcoming “Avengers: Endgame” which comes to theaters in four days. 

In the fantasy film “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” the quixotic setting is made even more dreamlike by the fact that the characters enter another world through their wardrobe. This book-to-movie adaptation is a fun family film that shows there can be good and evil in a whimsical world with fauns and talking animals. 

A classic example of both a fanciful world and a battle between good and evil is “The Wizard of Oz.” Featuring witches, munchkins and musical numbers, Dorothy’s famous adventure to get back to Kansas does a wonderful job exploring this made-up setting. 

An imagined setting can make or break a film. If it is done well and believably, the film will usually do well, if not it can have disastrous consequences. Nevertheless, it is still a captivating experience to be able to see the imagined worlds of people’s minds brought to life on the big screen. 


Calista Giroux is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at calista.giroux@gmail.com.

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