Lists, lists, lists! *sings happy little tune*
This week for Wyrd and Wonder’s Fantastic Fives we’re invited to talk about our favourite forest fantasies, or favourite fantasy forests. Or perhaps our favourite forest creatures. I’m going for a double whammy of forest festivity today and am talking about my favourite fantasy forests in both books and film (I love all these Fs! So pleasing!)
Let’s wend our way amongst the trees, shall we? (OK, I say wend, but it’ll be more whistle-stop I think, as I’m running out of time to write this up if I want to post it this morning!)
Five favourite fantasy forests on the page …
The Aldheorte forest in Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series spans a large swathe of central Osten Ard and is one of my lasting memories from these books. This is one of those series I suspect will be a troublesome reread – but I did love it so very much at the time!
This was my introduction to de Lint’s Newford and it made me want to read everything else he’d ever written. I particularly love his blend of Irish, American Indian and Mexican mythologies and folk tales here, but I’ll be honest, I know that there’s woods in or near to Newford, but I don’t know which of de Lint’s books gave me the strongest sense of them. It seemed from the title that this might be the one, so I ran with it. Which kinda suggest a reread is in order.
The woods on the hill surrounding Whistling Tor are alive with unseen presences and while Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest might be a more logical choice for a great forest location, Heart’s Blood made the greater impression on me. So there.
The story of Henry Day and his changeling made a lasting impression on me too. I read this back in 2006, and it has remained with me – particularly Henry-now-Aniday’s experiences trying to fit into the world of faeries and hobgoblins in the forest bordering his old home.
The Hazel Wood of the title refers both to the estate of Alice’s author-grandmother and to the gateway into the Hinterland – a place where fairy tales exist, not in saccharine Disney style, but in a vicious, nightmare-inducing clarity that bleeds into our own world.
And five favourite fantasy forests on the screen…
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
I am too old now to remain ashamed of my love for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in all its hammy glory. And I will ever want to live in a tree-houses-and-rope-bridges home in the forest because of this film. As long as there’s still Wi-Fi and bathrooms…
My Neighbour Totoro (1988)
Then again, a beautiful Japanese house abutting a forest and presided over by a giant camphor tree, might be more my style. Floofy woodland spirits are a must.
Possibly the most theatrically magical forest ever caught on film, my eyes bleed from its concentratedly glittery, misty, magical loveliness, even as I cringe at Jack and Lili’s stupidity. (And I still shout at the screen every time Lili gets that look in her eye when she sees the unicorns. Because the rules apply to everyone Lili! Sheesh).
The Princess Bride (1987)
So, yeah, it’s called the Fire Swamp, but it’s definitely in a forest. There are trees. Lots of them. And it is in the Fire Swamp (forest) that our reunited lovers get a little time to get reacquainted, while dealing with fire spurts, lightning sand and Rodents of Unusual Size. I love everything about this section of the film, from the witty repartee to the non-CGI Rodents played by actors in 50lbs of rubber and latex.
And I recently reconsidered my opinion of Buttercup thanks to this Tor.com article by Rachel Ayers too.
The Last Unicorn (1982)
Last, but not least, The Last Unicorn is the film that ruined me for Disney. Produced by Rankin/Bass Productions, this melancholy, dark slice of animation haunted my childhood. I still can’t watch it now without sobbing my heart out and it’s one of my least watched but most beloved films. I will forever mourn that the Unicorn had to leave her woodland home to find the rest of her kind because, no matter what she says at the end, the cost is too great for me to bear.