Friday Fives: Magic Users

Prompted by Otis T Roofdog’s response to The Excalibur post yesterday (by the way, it was shown last night on ITV3, the official Dirk Malcolm channel) I have cobbled together an adhoc list of some of the better (and one worst) of magic users in cinema history.

Those of us who spent our formative years holed up in our bedrooms with nothing more than a collection of funny shaped dice, a dozen rule books and a farting dog to keep us company, will know that ‘magic users’ are not the punters indulging in the latest street narcotic, but a generic term for wizards from D&D.

Fantasy films have always been a bit coy when it comes to magic. If you have a wizard in the film it is going to pump up your effects budget, so prior to the advent of cgi, there was always more swords than sorcery. However, the wizards can often the most interesting characters in a role-playing game, why not in the movies?

COULD IT BE MAGIC?

1) Merlin in EXCALIBUR (1981) despite the reservations in my review, I still think that the performance is delightfully eccentric attempt to deal with the complexities of living with ‘The Dragon’ magical-force and the material plane. He has a great steel skull cap too.

2) Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledor in the Harry Potter films. I think Gambon’s sturdy version just about edges the frail, raspy version by Richard Harris. The central core of ‘goodness’ at the centre of the films.

3)  Xusia of Delos in The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) Albert Pyun pipped John Millius’s Conan by a couple of months and it has managed to gather a cult following. Its brilliantly bad. I watched it recently and realised that even though it has a simple plot, its impossible to understand what’s actually going on! Xusia provides a twist at the end.

4) The Queen in Snow White (1937) develops an elaborate plan to kill off the innocent Snow White, you’d have thought someone capable of magic would have a more straight forward assassination, but she is quite sexy, and makes an appearance in ANNIE HALL (1977).

COULD IT BE TRAGIC?

5) Gandalf the Grey or White in The Lord of The Rings trilogy and the forthcoming Hobbit. I know that its a controversial one, but lets face it, he’s a bit of a charlatan. He seems to have little to offer other than smoke rings and fireworks.

7 responses to “Friday Fives: Magic Users

  1. The thing that’s always made me suspicious of Gandalf is that all the events of LotR take place purely on his say-so. Where is the evidence that Sauron is evil when the Fellowship gets together and sets off to destroy him? Other than a couple of blokes in black cloaks riding round looking for their own property back they have nothing but Gandalf’s stories. It’s the Middle-earth equivalent of the 45 minute claim. He even defies his own boss rather than waiting for an all-important second White Council resolution.

    Also if there’s one thing LotR needs it’s more ropey political allegories.

  2. I think it was Stephen Merchant who pointed out that Gandalf rides them back on eagles – where were they at the start of the film – they could have saved alot of messing about.

    Clearly, Tim was a glaring omission!

  3. I think it’s only in the book but there is some throw-away line about how the eagles can’t interfere lest they are tempted by the ring themselves; the same excuse all the other lazy ar5es like Cate Blanchett use.

    Presumably if the eagles took the ring it would all turn into The Giant Claw.

  4. For some reason, this post is being attacked by spam and ping-bots, suggesting that we all follow Jesus. No offence, but for me, he’s up there with Gandalf when it comes to magic use: a few tested tricks and a dubious desire for people to follow him, based on very little evidence.

    The last thing that Lord of The Rings needs is a ropey religious allegory.

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