Guest Author - Michelle Taylor
A familiar theme in many (if not most) fantasy films is The Quest. Simply put, the quest is a journey to reach a goal. Sounds simple, right? However, in the hands of the right producer, director, and writer the quest becomes a legendary tale.
The quest takes on many guises throughout fantasy movies.
Consider Clash of the Titans (the 1981 version). Zeus’ son, Perseus, must find a way to save the woman he loves, Andromeda, from a curse set upon her by Thetis. Andromeda’s mother compared Andromeda’s beauty to that of the goddess, and the goddess extracted her revenge by demanding the girl be given as a sacrifice to the Kraken. Perseus must take on the Stygian witches, Medusa, and Calibos (Thetis’ own son). With the help of the flying Pegasus, and a little mechanical owl, Perseus cuts off Medusa’s head and uses that to freeze the Kraken; thereby releasing the princess.
Another example of a quest is found in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Instead of rescuing someone, this quest is to save the world – a very classic quest. Our hero, Frodo Baggins, must take the ring of power to the Cracks of Doom so that it might be thrown into the fiery pit and forever destroyed. Frodo has many companions along the way, the wizard Gandalf, the ranger Aragorn, the elf Legolas, and several others. It is quite common in quests that there be a Fellowship or group to protect and empower the hero throughout. Frodo faces many obstacle, including an increasing amount of evil within himself, but with the help of this Fellowship (especially his best friend Sam) he is able to fulfill his quest.
In the Harry Potter series we see the type of quest where the heroes must retrieve an item. This is especially true in the “Deathly Hallows” portion of the franchise. Harry, along with Ron and Hermione must collect several Horcruxes and 3 Deathly Hallows in order to defeat Lord Voldemort. The Horcruxes house pieces of Voldemort’s soul, and he cannot be killed until after those are destroyed. The Hallows are items of great power that could render him all powerful, so the heroes must get to them first. The three are tested (all heroes on quests go through some sort of test) individually and as friends.
Stardust is the type of quest where the hero must bring an item home in order to woo or wed the woman of his dreams. Sometimes this is a test the Father has imposed, sometimes it is a test the woman herself has issued to see if he is worthy. In this case the (undeserving) Victoria, has told Tristan that she will marry him if he brings her a star within one week’s time (a time limit is often a quality of a good quest). Since one has just fallen from the sky, he is in luck. Tristan starts out on a journey across the Wall that separates his mundane town from that of the magical town of Stormhold. There he finds himself in a race for the fallen star, against a witch, and 3 brothers who wish to be King. He soon learns that the star is a lovely young lady whose name is Yvaine. He soon falls in love with her, and forgets about his original quest. OK, this one is not so typical, but it does have the beginnings of a classic quest.
So a classic quest has many parts to it. There must be a hero or heroine; sometimes there is more than one. There is always a goal to be achieved or a test to be passed. Often there is an item that is to be brought back or taken care of in some fashion. Traveling companions are a good thing to have. The hero must pass some kind of test, usually one that makes him discover something about himself. Love is quite likely to be the driving factor behind the quest.
Pay attention to the next Fantasy movie you watch, and see if it fits into the qualifications of a quest.