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The 10 Best Fantasy Movies of the 1970s, Ranked – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

The 10 Best Fantasy Movies of the 1970s, Ranked



The 1970s was a remarkable era for cinema, encompassing all genres and types of media. It served as a testing ground for filmmakers to experiment with novel storytelling techniques and gauge audience preferences, thereby shaping the future of the film industry. The decade witnessed the release of several classic horror movies, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloween, and Alien, introducing new narratives that continue to inspire modern-day reboots.

The fantasy genre gained significant momentum in the 1970s, with several major blockbusters released during the decade, such as The Hobbit and Superman. These movies have played a crucial role in shaping the modern-day film industry, and therefore, it’s worth taking a look at the top 10 fantasy movies that reigned supreme in the 1970s.

10. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) – Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the stop-motion classic Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is still a fan favorite. Its nostalgic properties and cheesy yet over-the-top action sequences are still fondly remembered by its viewers.

9. Fantastic Planet (1973) – This animated film explores the themes of animal rights, racism, and human rights through the eyes of two groups – the Traags and the Oms. Its unique animation style and thought-provoking storyline make it a must-watch for fans of the genre.

8. Pete’s Dragon (1977) – Combining live-action with funky animation style, Pete’s Dragon is a musical fantasy that tells the story of a young boy and his invisible dragon as they search for a new life. The original 1970s version is far more whimsical and fun than the 2016 remake.

7. Superman (1978) – The first major blockbuster film about a superhero, Superman is a classic that paved the way for future superhero movies. Its incredible budget of $55 million and iconic status make it a must-watch for fans of the genre.

6. The Wiz (1978) – The Wiz is a fantastic remake that retells the story of Dorothy and Toto through an entirely African American cast. It’s filled with perfectly timed callbacks to the original and fresh twists on certain scenes, making it a great movie for all audiences.

5. Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) – This hilarious movie, filled with bizarre situations, follows King Arthur’s journey to gather men to make up his Knights of the Round Table. It’s a must-watch for fans of period pieces who want something not entirely serious.

4. The Hobbit (1977) – Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who leads a group of dwarves on a quest to retrieve their treasure from the dragon, Smaug. Its animation style is different from the Lord of the Rings, but it’s still just as great.

3. The Lord of the Rings (1978) – Before the epic live-action movies, there were animated installments. The Lord of the Rings was released in 1978 and follows Frodo’s journey to Mordor to destroy the Ring. Its animation style is comforting and warm, with silly moments that aren’t included in the live-action versions.

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2. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Gene Wilder stars in this classic movie that takes you on a dream-like journey through a candy factory run by an eccentric man. The 2005 remake didn’t do it justice, and fans are eagerly waiting to see how Timothée Chalamet’s prequel will stand up to the original.

1. Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) – No fantasy movie list from the 1970s would be complete without the iconic Star Wars franchise. A New Hope introduced us to a galaxy far, far away, with unforgettable characters like Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo. Its influence on modern-day sci-fi movies is unparalleled, making it the ultimate must-watch fantasy movie from the 1970s.

In conclusion, the 1970s was a groundbreaking decade for cinema, paving the way for the future of the film industry. The fantasy genre played a significant role in shaping modern-day movies, and these top 10 fantasy movies from the era continue to inspire filmmakers worldwide.

The 1970s were a fantastic time for cinema, all genres, and all types of media. It was a testing ground for what audiences liked and what movies could develop into when it came to the future of film. There were so many great horror movies released in the 1970s, such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Halloweenand Alien.


New stories were being introduced, and since we’re in the time of reboots, the 1970s are a refreshing take on what we know and love today. A big thing for the film world was the fantasy genreand some major knockouts were released in this memorable decade, ranging from The Hobbit to Superman. Without these movies, film wouldn’t be nearly as great as it is today, so with that being said, let’s take a look at the top 10 fantasy movies that came out of the 1970s, ranked.

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10 Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

sinbad and the eye of the tiger
Columbia Pictures

Although highly anticipated after the first two Sinbad movies, the third installment is said to have fallen flat on its face and received not-so-great reviews by critics. However, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is still a classic and deserves to be on this list due to the nostalgic properties it carries and the stop-motion aspect. It’s certainly a bit cheesy and over the top at points, such as the very long scene in which the tiger fights the troglodyte and the camera keeps cutting to Sinbad’s shocked expression.

Related: 10 Movies That Perfectly Encompassed 1970s Aesthetic

9 Fantastic Planet (1973)

The Slow leaders
Argos Films & New World Pictures

Fantastic Planet might look like a fun animated movie that takes you on a playful ride of good vs. evil, but it’s in fact a bigger deal than that. There are two groups: Traags, who almost resemble humans but are huge and blue, as well as actual humans known as Oms. Fantastic Planet is set in a rather distant future, and the plot follows the Traags, who take the Oms to their planet of Ygam, where the blue beings keep the humans as if they were pets.

It’s a really great story of animal rights, racism, and human rights once you look past the neat animation style. The movie was adapted from the 1957 French novel whos in series.

8 Pete’s Dragon (1977)

Pete's Dragon
Buena Vista Distribution

The ’70s really had a knack for combining live-action and a funky animation style, and in Pete’s Dragonit’s truly something special. This fantasy takes a slightly different spin from the other films on this list and involves a musical aspect, making it that much more fantasy-driven. Pete is a young boy who, after being orphaned, runs away with his invisible dragon in search of a new life.

He comes across a small town with interesting people filling it, and Elliot, the dragon that can turn invisible sometimes, causes him some trouble. Pete’s Dragon was remade in 2016 but lacked the musical numbers and took a far more serious approach than the original film in the 1970s.

7 Superman (1978)

Marc McClure & Christopher-Reeve in Superman
Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s no secret that Superman is one of the most well-known superheroes in the world; everyone knows his name and everyone knows his symbol. There have been several adaptations and various movies and shows that have centered around this iconic character, but the 1978 movie was iconic and memorable for several reasons. Superman was the first major blockbuster film about a superhero, with an incredible budget of $55 million.

Critics and film lovers often mention how this film paved the way for future superhero movies and how well-loved they would become. Without Superman, the DC universe, as well as other superhero affiliates, would be very different.

6 The Wiz (1978)

The Wiz img
New York Public Library

Everyone knows the story of Dorothy and Toto getting transported from Kansas to the wonderful city of Oz, but they are less likely to know the retelling of the story in The Wiz. The Wiz is a fantastic remake of sorts that features an entirely African American cast—even the main characters, which was a very great switch from the original version.

Michael Jackson stars as Scarecrow, and the lovely Diana Ross plays this version of Dorothy, and as you might expect, critics and audiences didn’t particularly enjoy what was in front of them. You can blame it on a number of things, but in the 1970s, people weren’t ready to experience The Wizard of Oz told through a black lens. It’s a great movie, filled with perfectly timed callbacks to the original and fresh twists on certain scenes.

5 Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail
EMI Films

How can you not think of the iconic quote, “‘Tis but a flesh wound,” when you see Monty Python and the Holy Grail? This movie will have you cracking up the entire time, and it’s perfect if you love period pieces but want something not entirely serious. It follows King Arthur’s journey in gathering men to make up his Knights of the Round Table, and the adventure is quite a wild one as Arthur leads his men into weird and bizarre situations.

One of the best scenes, as mentioned before, is when Arthur has just started his journey and comes across the Black Knight, whom he’s meant to challenge in order to pass. Arthur ends up cutting off all the knight’s limbs before promptly walking away like nothing has happened, and it’s truly great cinema.

4 The Hobbit (1977)

Bilbo Baggins at his home
NBC

Released a year before The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit’s animation style is extremely different from the next installment, but is still just as great. Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who lives in a cave when one day his home is taken over by 13 dwarves sent to him by Gandalf, and for quite a bit of time they eat, sleep, and play music.

That is, until a quest is formed and Bilbo leads the group on a journey to get their treasure back from Smaug, a dragon that lives in the Lonely Mountain. At the end of the movie, it’s a great set-up for what’s to come with future movies and adaptations, with Gandalf telling Bilbo that the adventure is only beginning.

Related: The Best Animated Movies from the 1970s

3 The Lord of the Rings (1978)

Bakshi-Lord-of-the-Rings-Orcs-Pippin-Merry (1)

United Artists

Before the epic live-action movies that make up The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, there were animated installments. If you’ve never seen them, please give them a chance, because you’ll quickly see what you’ve been missing out on with these animated films. The Lord of the Rings was released in 1978, and if you know the story well, then you know what happens in the journey to Mordor in order for Frodo to destroy the Ring.

The animation style is very comforting and warm, and there are silly moments that aren’t included in the live action or wouldn’t have translated well. Such as when Gandalf, voiced by William Squire, tells Frodo to be careful on his journey and then jumps at Sam to spook him.

2 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka hugging Peter Ostrum's Charlie Bucket in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
Paramount Pictures

Gene Wilder stars in one of his most memorable movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factoryand this film is so special and nostalgic that the remake in 2005 didn’t do it nearly enough justice. It’ll be interesting to see how Timothée Chalamet’s Wonka stands up to the original, since it’s a prequel to such a memorable story. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory takes you on a dream-like journey through a candy factory that’s run by an eccentric man who makes it his mission to weed out the good kids from the bad ones.

Many of the scenes are hinted to be much darker than expected, such as the boat ride that Wonka takes his guests on through the creepy, dark tunnel. As you watch this 1971 film, you might acquire a sweet tooth and find yourself in the mood for a river made of chocolate.

1 Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977)

Star Wars a New Hope
20th Century Fox

In the early summer of 1977, the movie theaters were packed with people who all came out to see one movie; Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. This single film launched one of the biggest movie franchises to ever exist, creating such a legacy for all the actors and actresses involved and the Star Wars reputation as a whole. Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Harrison Ford as Han Solo, and the beloved Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia are such a stacked cast that not much could have gone wrong for this film.

A New Hope sets up the prequels greatly, putting you right into the madness of it all, and it’s always a great time to see how Luke learned the force from Obi-Wan, as well as seeing the Millennium Falcon for the first time in all its glory.

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