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Fantasy Genre Codes & Conventions

Rob Miller | Friday June 26, 2015

Categories: A Level, Eduqas (WJEC) A Level, WJEC A2, WJEC A2 Media Studies, WJEC AS, WJEC AS Media Studies, Film, Fantasy, Key Concepts, Genre, Legacy


  • Lord of the Rings (Peter Jackson, 2001-2003)
  • Harry Potter (Chris Columbus, 2001-11)
  • Chronicles of Narnia (Andrew Adamson, 2005)
  • Tron (Kenneth Branagh, 2011)
  • Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo del Toro, 2006)

Codes and Conventions

  • High production values
  • Younger target audience although significant older appeal
  • Wide/saturated distribution (normally by an American Studio e.g. Warners or Disney). Mainstreamers and Aspirers
  • Dedicated, sometimes obsessive fan base
  • Convergence and Synergy – computer games, merchandising, forums and blogs, fan sites…
  • Emotive, often ‘romanticised’ narratives
  • Hyper real, idealised representations
  • Saturated primary colours
  • High key lighting
  • Significant CGI and FX e.g. green screen technology
  • Aspirational, escapist characters, often undertaking a quest
  • Occasional political narrative themes only understood by an older target audience with significant cultural capital (e.g. about minority groups)
  • Reputation for being ideologically traditional e.g. Disney ‘teaching’ gender roles to young target audiences
  • Positive narrative outcomes (happy endings)
  • Simplistic, linear narrative (e.g. a Hobbit travels across middle earth encountering danger)
  • Propps character roles can often apply
  • Iconography includes magic, mystical creatures e.g. Elves and Fairies
  • Often set in the past (King Arthur) or in an imagined time
  • High production value costume design
  • Exhibited mainly in multiplex cinemas
  • Escapism as key audience appeal

The Fantasy Genre can be the subject of hybridisation often with Science Fiction e.g. Spiderman.

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