Well….when I say a more “mature” audience, I’m being fairly liberal with that definition (Thor wasn’t a PG so it’s technically not a family film). Although very different from the original Norse mythology, this adaptation from the Marvel comics nevertheless captures its essence very well. We have the brave Thor, the wise and powerful Odin and of course the trickster Loki all dwelling in the fantastic realm of Asgard and who must fight of the threat of the Frost Giants. Who cares if it adds a Superhero / Sci-Fi / comedy slant to it all? This movie, like the comic, has inspired a generation of young people with an interest in Norse mythology and Heathenism. I think the Vikings would have approved.
A story of conservatism verses liberalism, of Catholicism verses Paganism, all surrounding the life of a chocolatier who moves to a quiet and oppressive village. She combines her skills of chocolate-making with mysticism and more than a little witchcraft (although this comes through more strongly in the book). It’s essentially a feel-good fairy-tale for adults (but once again it’s a 12-rating and apart from the light sexual content is pretty family-friendly).
8. The Mists of Avalon (mini-series)
Adapted from Marion Zimmer-Bradley’s epic book, The Mists of Avalon is the story of King Arthur told from the perspective of the female characters – Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, Igraine and Gwenhwyfar. The Pagan themes in this movie are strong – there are many references to the Old Religion of the three-fold goddess, in addition to witchcraft (of course). The Mists of Avalon is considered one of the most important works of fiction in this history of modern Paganism, and this mini-series/movie is a nice adaptation (if rather pared-down).
This is actually a PG so I could have included it in my Family Movies list…I suppose I didn’t consider it because I always the Discworld series was pretty adult. Nevermind! The premise is wonderful – on the night before Hogswatch (the Discworld equivalent of Christmas), the Hogfather (Father Christmas) goes missing and Death himself must stand in for him. Funny, fantastic and silly, it’s also a fantastic commentary on religion and particularly the Pagan aspects of all faiths, with a wonderful message at the end that explains why believing in the abstract is so important in human culture.
One of the most important movie trilogies of our generation, and with a Pagan heart without even mentioning religion! The story is very much based on Norse and Celtic mythology, and this is also reflected in the designs of both the costume and set designs. Filmed in beautiful New Zealand, nature also plays an important part of the magical and epic atmosphere in these movies. There’s even a bit of a “technology verses nature” message with the woodwose-like Ents attacking Saruman’s army! I know that after watching this movie, I wanted to go and live in the forests and be at one with the powers of nature like the elves…
One of Miyazaki’s most adult works, with liberal amounts of blood, violence and death – I’m not sure how it got that PG rating. It has a theme common to Miyazaki films – that of the human world and the natural world in conflict – but in this movie, the power of nature to fight back is strongly emphasised. Pagans will certainly recognise the concept of the “Kodama” nature spirits, resembling tree sprites of Western mythology, and the great Forest Spirit who takes the form of a mysterious deer who is also a spirit of death – not unlike the Horned God / Herne figure from Western Paganism. It’s a brilliant film full of creativity, stunning visuals and complex characters.
Dan Brown books are a guilty pleasure of mine, and I think he deserves a bit more credit for bringing alternative interpretations to religion into the public mind, and perhaps sparking a little more interest both in Christianity and Paganism. It’s the story of a quest to find the Holy Grail – but it’s full of twists and turns, right down to the nature of the Grail itself. Although the movie isn’t quite as good as the book, it’s still a pretty good interpretation and retains the themes of re-discovering the Sacred Feminine, Pagan imagery in Christian iconography and other Pagan-friendly ideas. The fact that Hans Zimmer wrote the score is also a huge plus in my book.
I’m cheating here as this really is a long-spanning TV series and not a movie in any way, but I think it’s been such an influential work that I had to include it. The series consists of re-interpretations of the legend of Robin Hood, giving them a Pagan spin with the shadowy Shamanic figure of Herne the Hunter appointing Robin as the guardian of the greenwood. Featuring magic, spirits and lots of references to British folklore, as well as the haunting music of folk band Clannad, it’s a real Pagan treat.
One of my all-time favourite films and a must-see for all Pagans! The epic of King Arthur beautifully told in this artistic and amazingly filmed movie. With its eerie atmosphere, stylised script and incredible sets and costume, Excalibur brings all the magic and mystery of the legend to life. The characters of Merlin and his nemesis Morgana emphasise the Pagan origins of the legend with their knowledge of the “old ways,” and there’s even a reference to the “many gods” being driven away by the “one god” of Christianity (although in this re-telling Christianity and the old Pagan beliefs are clearly intertwined). You will finish watching wishing that you too could learn the Charm of Making!
Of course. This 1973 movie is still perhaps the best cinematic interpretation of neopaganism ever made, having taking so many of its ideas from historical and anthropological sources used by Pagans themselves – many of the symbols and rituals shown are straight out of The Golden Bough. Even though it turns out that the Pagan islanders of the movie are actually the bad guys, I’ve yet to meet a Pagan who didn’t like this movie – probably because (up until the ending at least) it features fairly accurate interpretations of the Pagan religion and because its combination of bizarre comedy, unique folk songs and genuine terror all make for an incredibly compelling movie. Because this movie did so much in itself to inspire a new generation of Pagans, I felt that it had to be #1 on this list.
As for the 2006 remake? Well, you can either view it as a ghastly travesty of what was once a brilliant movie, or a piece of hilarious unintentional comedy. That’s full of bees.