Sunday, January 02, 2005

Fantasy Is Where You Find It 

Actually I'm not quite as caught up on the website as I said the previous post; I'm overdue on the 'classic reprints' page for December, I still haven't done the couple end-December magazines seen, the January issue pages are yet to be done (usually I try to post them the date the issue is mailed, but not this time), and of course the SF Awards index is still to be updated. I've compiled all the data for the awards index; now it's a matter of synch'ing data, checking biblio info on sources, etc., and then executing all the steps to generate the updated site, fixing a couple reported bugs along the way.

Ironically, it will be easier to get back up to speed on the website once normal work schedule resumes, on Tuesday, and the so-called holiday break, which one might naively suppose consists entirely of free time, is over.

Saw two excellent movies the past couple days: Hero and House of Flying Daggers, both directed by Zhang Yimou. From reviews I'd gathered the first was excellent and the second even better; despite which, I prefer Hero, for its more epic theme, or perhaps just because we've now seen it twice (today again with Yeong's son Michael) and the other only once.

Of this 'genre' of Chinese martial arts art films I've only seen one previous, the acclaimed Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and so I have only a vague idea of what the genre 'means'. That is, with their surrealist battle sequences -- filmed with actors suspended by cables, performing beautiful acrobatic maneuvers impossible in 'real life' -- are these films fantasy?? If so, they're certainly as exciting and beautiful and epic as...say...The Lord of the Rings. Have genre reviewers noticed?

Or are they to be understood as extreme examples of the way all movies idealize real life, enhancing it and fictionalizing it for the sake of the story and its emotional effect--the way any of dozens of standard Hollywood flicks exaggerate gun shots and car explosions and never let the hero be hit by gunfire or swordplay, while dozens of bad guys are easily mowed down.

Or both?
They're Wuxia. It's a genre of Chinese Fantasy. There are plenty of Wuxia books (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is based on a series of books), and they're Fantasy.
How odd... I just saw Hero last night.
Great drama, great action, great story.
The story struck me more of a "folk tale" retelling, which may make it fantasy...

Michael Walsh
Fantasy by me. I keep saying that the best explanation of wuxia is
the discussion of chi in Hughart's _The Story of the Stone_. Nobody
believes me yet.

Andrew Plotkin
'Hero' is based on real history, but its presentation was typical Wuxia (so, er...would that make it historical fantasy?). 'Crouching Tiger' etc. is not based on historical events, as far as I know, so I guess it can be called 'fantasy'.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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