Sword and Sorcery Films have been around for a long time with varying degrees of quality. With Warcraft coming out this year, I would like to give a brief history of the greatest examples of Sword and Sorcery films that we have ever laid our eyes on. To be fair I will condense series, like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy as one film. So lets begin shall we.
The Sword in the Stone is an animated film adaptation of the book of the same name. The movie is an early Disney film that didn't focus on a princess, but more to the point, it is the story of King Arthur as child learning who he is from a time traveling wizard Merlin. Merlin teaches Arthur the lessons that he will need for when he becomes king. Along the way Arthur pulls the legendary Sword from the Stone, which by divine right made him king. The movie has a lot of classic Disney antics and comedy especially the fight between Merlin and Madam Mim. The movie also shows classic sword and sorcery concepts in the form of jousting, magic, and The Sword respectively.
The eighties had a large number of Sword and Sorcery Films, and some of them were pretty bad, but there were some exceptions among the bunch. One in particular was Conan The Barbarian series starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. These films were adaptations of the books. The film follows Conan and his adventures through the Hyborian Age. The first film, Conan The Barbarian was highly successful and became so iconic that it inspired many other films and cheap knockoffs. The sequel was relatively successful but no where near as successful as the first and eventually the third film was cancelled. The film has classic elements of sword fighting, a great and mighty hero, a damsel in distress, evil wizards and magic. It is a film that should be seen at least once.
When I said there were a large number of Sword and Sorcery Films in the Eighties, I meant it. From Clash of the Titans, The Beastmaster, Excalibur, Ladyhawke, Legend, and Red Sonja, there were many good films, but one that stood out was Highlander. The film stars Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod and Sean Connery as Juan Sanchez. The film follows MacLeod through time as he is gifted with immortality, which he views as a curse. He is one of the few immortals in existence, and as such he must encounter other immortals to kill or be killed. His fight eventually leads him to fight The Kurgan (Clancy Brown) in 1980's New York City. The film is quite good with a lot of excitement and mysterious lore. It also has a fantastic soundtrack performed by the rock band Queen. The film was considered very successful leading to a sequel and a television series. The film has classic motifs of sword and sorcery including: sword fights on and off horseback, magic, and a tragic love story for the main character.
Before entering a new decade, one more Sword and Sorcery Film should be mentioned. The Neverending Story is a story about a boy going on an adventure to a mysterious place. The film is very iconic, especially the flying dog dragon Falkor with whom the young boy rides. The films setting involving magic is very important as it is the backdrop of the entire story. Where the involvement of sword fighting isn't as big as others, sorcery certainly makes up for the loss.
The Nineties didn't have too many powerful Sword and Sorcery Films. Some of the more notable ones were Kull the Conqueror, and The 13th Warrior, both relatively poor films.
The 2000's didn't have too much of an improvement either, but I would say there were a few exceptions:
The Scorpion King was a film that became a reality partly due to The Mummy series starring Brendan Fraser. The character Scorpion King was mentioned and shown in The Mummy Returns. The Scorpion King is an origin story of the character starring Dwayne Johnson as the namesake of the film. The film shows how Johnson's character Mathayus becomes the Scorpion King, by stopping an evil tyrant with the help of the tyrant's witch and various other characters. The film is a standard action film, but knowing that it is connected to The Mummy series made the film far more interesting, plus Dwayne Johnson proved himself capable as an action hero and later a decent actor.
Of all the Sword and Sorcery Films, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy became the one of the greatest of all time. It defined how these types of films were made. It became iconic. Iconic like how Conan The Barbarian became iconic. Whats more is that this was an epic. Like others this too was an adaptation, of J.R.R Tolkien's Masterpiece. The Middle Earth trilogy is the tale of how the One Ring was destroyed and how peace came to be on Middle Earth. The film series launched and relaunched actors that we still see in today's cinema. Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom, Viggo Mortensen, Andy Serkis, Sean Bean, Karl Urban, Christopher Lee and plenty of others. The movie not only made a lot of money but won an Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as a few others. The film series even inspired the director Peter Jackson to do the movie The Hobbit and turn that into a trilogy, a decision, not received well as much as Lord of the Rings. The series also inspired many games like Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
There weren't too many other Sword and Sorcery Films, but one Pan's Labyrinth is a great fantasy tale directed by Guillermo Del Toro who would eventually consult for The Hobbit Trilogy
The 2010's haven't had too many Sword and Sorcery films worth noting. But there are some that are. Clash of Titans, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and The Hobbit Trilogy. As mentioned we also have Warcraft coming this year, but another that hasn't been talked about a lot is Knights of the Round Table: King Arthur which is coming out in 2017.
Finally, I would like to mention that Game of Thrones the highly successful HBO television series currently has five full seasons with a sixth about to premiere later this year. Game of Thrones is a very well written Sword and Sorcery television series that if you have not watched it yet but you like the genre, well then what are you waiting for, start binge watching before the sixth season starts.