Many, many years ago in a sad, faraway land...
February 1, 2017 3:33 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend some melancholy, beautiful fantasy to hibernate with this winter.

One of my favorite movies to repeatedly escape to is Pan's Labyrinth (though my husband always wonders why I do it to myself). I've always been drawn to very visual yet often bitttersweet and wistful fantasy and often sad fantasy and sci-fi. Other favorites include Legend, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Last Unicorn, The Dark Crystal, Jim Henson's The Storyteller and Spirited Away. Scifi like Moon, Blade Runner, and Donny Darko (Investigating this thread on "ambient" scifi.) I consider horror that has a touch of tenderness to fit, like The Devil's Backbone, Mama, Crimson Peak, and The Awakening. Also The City of Lost Children, Coraline, Edward Scissorhands, Only Lovers Left Alive, and The Fountain.

Common creators here are Neil Gaiman, Studio Ghibli, The Jim Henson Company, Guillermo Del Toro, and Tim Burton, but there might be works by them that I've missed.

I was recently shown MirrorMask and this totally fits and is a great example of movies I'm looking for. Through it I recently discovered the blog Girls Underground and am enjoying the book recommendations there, but my interest is not limited to that archetype, though it certainly pops up a lot in the above list.

Can you recommend more films and tv for the goth little girl in me to escape to this winter and/or Presidency?

Also I just read that Neil Gaiman helped adapt the English dub of Princess Mononoke and holy crap I had no idea.
posted by Sayuri. to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Have you seen Silent Running?
posted by parki at 3:48 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Have you ever seen the 1987 Beauty & the Beast TV show with Ron Perlman? It is extremely 80s and I love it truly, for the reasons you described. Also, George RR Martin worked on it and ramped up the sadness, as he does.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:52 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I like all of yours, and I also like Little Otik (Greedy Guts) by Svankmajer.
I thought The Triplets of Belleville had this quality, somewhat.
posted by xo at 3:53 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Winter's Tale is a movie that is sad but uplifting too.
posted by just asking at 3:59 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's neither horror nor sci-fi, but the movie "In America" is very melancholic yet optimistic.
posted by hydra77 at 4:07 PM on February 1, 2017

I think you would enjoy the 2006 movie The Fall, which is visually stunning with some unsettling creepy bits. Have you seen anything directed by Julie Taymor? It might be tough to find, but she did an adaptation of Poe's short story Hop Frog called Fool's Fire that I think you would love. Also the anime series Mu Shi Shi is dark and bittersweet and excellent.
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:14 PM on February 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

The book Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is fantastic and highly recommended, but the TV series (you can get it on Amazon Prime too) really does an amazing job translating it to the screen and I don't think you'd ruin anything by watching it before reading if you haven't already. It really captures the world created in the book and lets you inhabit it. Extremely moody, kind of slow moving but witty, something excellent to lose yourself in right now. "Bittersweet" is perhaps the best word I would use to describe it.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 4:18 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Two recent novellas are good fits:
Seanan McGuire, Every Heart A Doorway
Kij Johnson, The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:29 PM on February 1, 2017

For books: Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente is a book I wanted to love, but didn't quite. Nevertheless I think it's a beautifully weird world to get lost in. Cloud & Ashes by Greer Gilman is another dark fantasy told in lyrical prose. Rando obscure YA rec: Behind the Attic Wall by Sylvia Cassidy. For a visual treat, East of the Sun and West of the Moon is a collection of fairy tales illustrated by Kay Nielsen. The book itself is such a beautiful object that it's transporting just to hold and flip through.
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:32 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Kubo And The Two Strings
If you enjoyed MirrorMask, Gaiman's Neverwhere was made into a TV series.
Trollhunter (Norwegian: Trolljegeren) might fit? It had a hint of sadness in that the troll hunter seemed sad he had to go round killing trolls.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:37 PM on February 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

Also, these two animation recommendations are probably a touch more uplifting than you might be looking for, but still have some surprising darkness at their hearts. Also, they are visually gorgeous and wonderfully told: Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea.
posted by prewar lemonade at 4:47 PM on February 1, 2017 [5 favorites]

Caitlin kiernan, ellen klages, if you like poetry, goblin fruit is a poetry online magazine that might work. Maybe Charles de Lint. Theodora Goss.
posted by azalea_chant at 4:48 PM on February 1, 2017

You might like Spirit of the Beehive. It's kind of a tone-poem of a movie, set at the end of the Spanish Civil War, about a young girl and, among other things, her obsession with Frankenstein's monster. It's not fantasy per se, but very weird, hypnotic, and haunting.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:52 PM on February 1, 2017

Ooh, a chance to recommend the film "Ink"!
posted by The otter lady at 4:52 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, for films, I'd suggest The Tale of the Princess Kaguya and A Letter to Momo.
posted by Wobbuffet at 4:53 PM on February 1, 2017

The Seal Maiden. It's an audio with music and a story. I suspect that someone on mefi recommended it but I can't for the life of me remember who to give credit.
Secret of Roan Inish. Both are Selkie tales.
posted by BoscosMom at 5:53 PM on February 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

You might like the first three seasons of the Dead Zone TV show, followed by the Hollywood movie (for the sake of a resolution), and topped off by King's original novel of the same name -- though there are certain aspects of all those that may give them the feel of a progressive knotting into rather than an escape, these post-election days.
posted by jamjam at 6:05 PM on February 1, 2017

Netflix's Series of Unfortunate Events is quite lovely and might scratch that itch. It's akin to goth Wed Anderson.
posted by Grandysaur at 6:10 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Rappaccini's Daughter. It's a short story by Nathanial Hawthorne from the1800's. The link should take you to the full text.
posted by BoscosMom at 6:13 PM on February 1, 2017

Let Me In, you might like.
posted by fshgrl at 6:31 PM on February 1, 2017

Song of the Sea.
posted by celestine at 6:35 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Watership Down might quallify too.
posted by fshgrl at 6:36 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I know fshgrl recommended Let Me In, but I think Let the Right One In (the Swedish original) very much scratches the same itch as Pan's Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies too.
posted by xenization at 6:39 PM on February 1, 2017 [3 favorites]

That's what I meant! Oops. Definitely the Swedish one, its much more visual
posted by fshgrl at 6:44 PM on February 1, 2017

Ursula K. LeGuinn's fantasy and also earlier plot driven sf (City of Illusions or Word for World is Forest) would fall into this category I think.
posted by mark k at 6:55 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

"Little, Big", a novel by John Crowley, might fill the bill. I read it every few years.
posted by Agave at 6:59 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you're open to anime, Natsume Yuujinchou has some sweet and melancholy episodes.
posted by betweenthebars at 7:16 PM on February 1, 2017

2nding The Fall. Orlando.

Chinese films? Crouching Tiger; Farewell My Concubine (this one is not fantasy but it is unforgettable).
posted by TWinbrook8 at 7:59 PM on February 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Ooh Ong Bak 2 sometimes gives me the feeling of Pan's Labyrinth (PL being my favorite movie). You don't need to have seen Ong Bak and Ong Bak 3 added nothing for me. Ong Bak is set in modern day and Ong Bak 2 is a story in the past of Thailand. I think they're unrelated storylines? But I've generally watched Ong Bak 2 as a stand-alone.
posted by azalea_chant at 8:52 PM on February 1, 2017

Moby Dick.
posted by Fister Roboto at 8:54 PM on February 1, 2017

I also think you'd like Ted Chiang's short stories collected in Story of Your Life and Others. The titular Story of Your Life is what the movie Arrival (which I also recommend) is based on.
posted by azalea_chant at 9:14 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

I just saw A Monster Calls, which I thought had a lot of the same feel as Pan's Labyrinth. It's sooo sad and so lovely, despite Liam Neeson. You might like the book it's based on too. I have no idea why it did so poorly, because I loved it.
posted by gemmy at 9:27 PM on February 1, 2017

You might also like the Secret of Nimh. I feel like the late 80s, early 90s is a goldmine of this kind of thing. The Crow, Labyrinth etc
posted by fshgrl at 9:32 PM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Oh. And you might like Astrid Lindgren's two fantasy stories: Mio in the Land of Faraway or The Brothers Lionheart the book (the 1977 Swedish movie is awesome, but I don't know if it's available in translation).
posted by gemmy at 9:32 PM on February 1, 2017

These might not hold up; I haven't seen them in a long while: Somewhere in Time (1980) with Christopher Reeve, and Elvira Madigan (1967), in the original language with subtitles, not the English dubbed version.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 10:14 PM on February 1, 2017

Your list has many of my favorite movies.

A Scanner Darkly
The Orphanage (co-produced by Guillermo del Toro)
The Others
The Fall
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:09 AM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Additionally to the already suggested options is the sorta kinda not but ish but still awesome; Big Fish. The cell is quite surreal and dark, not whimsical but visually interesting. I want to second Sound of the Sea (Irish movie, for reference, because I found it hard to find when first recommended) because it is insane levels of great. Super 8 is possibly up your street. Never Ending Story. Labrynth (too light-hearted perhaps). Hellboy (maybe).

TV Show; Stranger Things (don't miss this)

Book wise please consider The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.
posted by TheGarden at 7:19 AM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by RedEmma at 9:14 AM on February 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Secoding "Ink", so sad, beautiful and also triumphant. Very emotional movie. Also, by the same director, "The Frame". Finally, have you seen "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". That gets me crying every time.
posted by pushing paper and bottoming chairs at 11:03 AM on February 2, 2017

Vampire Hunter D
The Hunger
Until the End of the World
posted by exquisite_deluxe at 4:18 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by plep at 8:33 AM on February 9, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thought of another to try; Sin City.
posted by TheGarden at 11:02 PM on February 11, 2017

Thought of another, TV show called Penny Dreadful. Definitely worth a watch, creepy for sure, pensive.
posted by TheGarden at 3:01 AM on February 18, 2017

The Red Turtle.
posted by Sayuri. at 6:25 AM on February 28, 2017

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