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Memorable Fantasy Villains

BY SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE

Some fantasy villains have provided little cause for complaint. They are thoroughly cinematic and faithful to the spirit. Such antagonists are presented in feature films that provide an immersive experience, and their characterization are picture-perfect in which every aspect is realized in minute detail. The filmmakers make the impossible believable, and without draining the magical happenings, fantastical locations, and uncanny creatures, the flicks also never abandon a sense of dramatic and thematic weight. And the list begins:

Lord Voldemort
Harry Potter [film series] (2001-11)

Tom Riddle first actively began his championship of the beliefs of Salazar Slytherin in the year 1942 [Y-38], with the first opening of the Chamber of Secrets. Voldemort’s personality, though it seems repellant to most of us, must actually be somewhat likeable. He knows how to charm, cajole, and create false bonds of familiarity with people. There can be few more unsympathetic figures in the world of celluloid than mean old Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter films. Ralph Fiennes plays the noseless warlock with the unhealthy cruciatus curse habit and gets under the skin of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and delivers a memorable performance.

Smaug
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013)

Smaug is a fearsomely realistic CGI-masterwork of visual effects artistry that is truly dazzling. The orange-eyed beast is voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, who, through a sludge of voice-altering electronics, seethes and preens between fiery exhalations. The best of the scenes is saved for the last act, when Bilbo goes to steal from the massive fire-breathing dragon. The ethical dilemmas of the antagonist-beast are treated with sensitivity and seriousness. Incredibly persuasive Smaug shows us the obvious dragon qualities of greed, murderousness, and cruelty.

Sauron
The Lord of the Rings [film series] (2001-03)

Sauron seems to have underestimated the Elves’ powers of perception and understanding. He did not anticipate the Elven-smiths’ awareness of his actions, when he created the One Ring and placed it upon his finger. At first glance Sauron does not appear to have much depth as a character although he works rather well as a villain; but we are rarely given a reason to think of him as more than that. Sala Baker’s voice-portrayal of Sauron as a burning Eye in the sky of his tower was terrific. Sauron is evil in a society of wizards, elves, dwarves, and hobbits. His evil heraldry leaves a lasting impression in the The Lord of the Rings film series.

Queen Bavmorda
Willow (1988)

It is Jean Marsh that steals every scene as Queen Bavmorda, the center of evil and corruption in the otherwise peaceful world. She is more frightening than any of the disfigured monsters that roam around her wretched kingdom.  In her home realm of Nockmaar, with plenty of spare time to cultivate her hobbies (dark magic), Bavmorda’s sorcery allowed her to animate immobile objects, throw fireballs and hurl people in the air. She had incredible polymorphic skills and her powers of transmutation also enabled her to turn living things into lifeless inanimate objects and back into their original forms with minimal effort.

Darkness
Legend (1985)

The film is built around the premise that Darkness (Tim Curry) wants to stop the sun from rising, which involves sending his goblin minions to steal the horn of a unicorn. A vile and creepy villain with humongous black horns, and large fans, who thrives on evil and violence, Tim Curry gives us an indelible performance as the Darkness.

The White Witch
The Chronicles of Narnia [film series] (2005-2010)

The self-proclaimed queen of Narnia, Queen Jadis believed to have been the White Witch in a previous life as symbols of evil is convincing and telling of how evil can take on the most attractive form.  Jadis’ “devilish temper” is emphasized time and time again in the story, as she at one point even mimics Milton’s Satan in the temptation scene of Paradise Lost. Tilda Swinton through her performance, gives us a pristine picture of evil.

Xerxes
300 (2006)

A gargantuan and somewhat androgynous antagonist, Xerxes the ambitious Persian ruler (Rodrigo Santoro), only shows mercy to those who bow to his sweeping authority without resisting what is to come. Somehow this actually inspires a rousing good time, and our instinctual desire to sneer at the implausibility of the character is stalled by a sense of ambition that seems unmatched. Xerxes, an overly ambitious despot treats all of his subjects as slaves. The 9 foot tall villain clad in silver and gold piercings along with his army of slaves was pure evil.

It’s due the villains, the pace of the storytelling never flags.  Bestowing vices such as loyalty and trust on the dark powers along with the evils of greed, deceit and soaring pride, the stories have a subterranean depths. In the end, however, the director pays off the time viewers invested in with a climax that places equal emphasis on both the protagonist’s personal struggle and the antagonist’s army-of-millions battle, with a denouement that gives a proper sendoff to the main characters.

Honorouble Mentions:

The Wicked Witch of the West
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)

The Nothing
“The NeverEnding Story” (1984)

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1 Response

  1. July 11, 2016

    […] folks…for those seeking to quench some more thirst for the fantasy evils, we bring you some more. Like any fiction, everyone has a unique view on what is and is not […]

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