Truly imaginative worlds

  • Way out there:
  • The Dark Crystal - everything about this world is impressively original. The amount of thought that must have gone into creating every single one of those creatures must have been amazing.
  • The Labyrinth - like the Dark Crystal, but not quite as impressive. The Escher-inspired room made for a memorable movie scene.
  • Beetljuice - Tim Burton's unique brand of weird reaches fever pitch in this movie. Even the hallways of the office for the recently deceased are demented. Truly bizarre genius.
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas - another quirky Tim Burton film. Highly worthy of this list. Claymation lends itself very well to Tim Burton's style. A very engaging world to get lost in for 2 hours.
  • _________________________________
  • Less so, but still really cool:
  • Dark City - a really neat idea in a really cool and atmospheric setting.
  • Alice in Wonderland - (thanks UncRoger) the original bizarre world...I can't believe I forgot this one to begin with! I would put this on the upper section, but I still really think of this one as a book.
  • Legend - I will have to see this one again to remember what is so special about this world. It may get moved up after I see it again. (Thanks to pbrice.)
  • Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - Same reasons as Alice. (thanks UncRoger)
  • Batman - Tim Burton, the master. Not as impressive as some of his other work, but the absolute best of every Batman attempt. (thanks snoozer)
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit (& Cool World) - Neat juxtaposition of real and cartoons worlds. (Thanks UncRoger)
  • Wizard of Oz - One of the originals. (thanks UncRoger)
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari - (Thanks Snoozer)
Author Comments: 

The criteria for this list is that the world itself be the product of an imaginitive mind. Worlds that are replicas of this one, with only a few strange elements thrown in do not qualify. Hence, the 7 1/2th floor in Being John Malkovich does not make the list, although that space was quite original. By this criteria, I suppose that The Labyrinth and Beetlejuice don't exactly qualify, since they both partially take place in a real world setting. However, there is a world separate from the real one, with different rules, etc. In Tim Burton's case, though, even the real world is a little warped (the designer of the house post-Delia is pretty original).

Here are some that I am suprised did not make your list:

Blade Runner - Although we're fast approaching the dating of this one, and Los Angeles doesn't look a thing like the movie, it is one of the most imaginatively designed futures ever filmed.

Legend - Another beautiful Riddly Scott film that just takes the cake for most imaginative 'fantasy' world.

A Clockwork Orange - Unusually subtle picture of the future. And did anyone around in 1972 (when this film sparked contraversy for it's violence) ever expect that we would see the middle-class violence it predicted.

A Nightmare Before Christmas - another Tim Burton classic, this time in claymation, that allows his morbid humour come to full light.

Thanks for the suggestions. Although I have seen all of these, most of them I saw too long ago to remember clearly - particularly to remember if they meet my criteria. Legend I remember probably the most clearly, and you're should belong on my list. The Nightmare Before Christmas actually had occurred to me in the car on the way to a party, and I promptly forgot about it. Another Tim Burton masterpiece. The other two I'm afraid I will have to leave off the list for the moment, until I can see them again. Again, thanks for the suggestions.

right on about a clockwork orange. if that isn't spine chillingly surreal, i don't know what is.

I'm not sure if this is too castle-y for the criteria, but I have often thought the best part of the movie Dune was the sets and the costumes. I remember the floating light bars and the flying, rotting head of House Harkonan (sp?) as impressively original. Other examples of technology were often far removed from the typical shiny silver cliche as well.

Dune is something I haven't seen since I was too young to remember it. Thank you for the suggestion - I was trying to think of more science kind of movies (as well as animation), rather than just fantasy. I will have to rewatch it sometime.

The City of Lost Children
Delicatessen (perhaps)
Stalker (definitely)

Ah, well, there's at least two good candidates.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I haven't seen any of these movies. I've heard much discussion about Delicatessen, though, and it seems to come up often in a number of different contexts so I think I'll put it near the top of my "to watch" list.

If Stalker fits so well into this list I will definitely have to watch it; thanks for the tip.

I agree -- I'm sure there are a number that belong here that I just can't come up with (stupid senility!). How about Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach? Life inside an oversize fruit with insects... Does Alice in Wonderland count? How about Mary Poppins (partially, anyway) for the animated sequence?

I have never seen James and the Giant Peach, and Alice in Wonderland certainly does count (though I really tend to think of that one more in terms of the book). If you read my comments to ender22d, these are the lines along which I was trying to think to come up with more entries. I think animation is probably the best arena for this topic, though my mind draws a blank when I try to think of any.

James and the Giant Peach is definitely worth watching. For some reason, I thought Burton directed it, though it doesn't have Burton's trademarked Oh-sh*t-the-movie's-over-now-what-do-I-do ending (deus ex sandworm, for example). Very Burton-esque. Kind of like Nightmare before christmas and Babe 2 in feeling, but with a Roald Dahl "dying baby" story. (Roald Dahl also did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Mathilda -- he likes stories of kids in not so great situations who get out of them in extraordinary ways.) Anyway, a fun movie. It's (mostly) claymation (or something like that.)

My wife suggested (she's a back-seat-listologist) the Wizard of Oz, which certainly fits, but I have to add that the atrocity of Judy Garland's lack of talent kind of ruins it.

I think that while ani/clay/etc.mation may make it easier to film other worlds, children's stories (Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, etc.) and Fantasy (Labyrinth, Legend, etc.) are the genres that really lend themselves to the creation of alternate realities.

WOZ is one of my all-time favourite rewatchables. I think I've seen it too many times & become too familiar with it to recall it in an "imaginitive worlds" context. Thank you for reminding me.

I dunno if this is different enough... but what about Toon Town in Roger Rabbit?

Thank you -I can't believe I didn't think of that one! Cartoon-y animation is one of my favourite things to watch, and that one was particularly fun. I've always wanted a car with a face on it that has a honk that say "AAAHHHOOOOGA". Anyway, enough of my rambling. That is different enough, and qualifies because it's a world separate from the real one. I think in this case it counts more than, say, an entirely animated movie, because the fact the cartoon world exists within the real one makes it fantastic and absurd. If I'm putting this one on the list, I should also include Cool World.

I was trying to think of Cool World today in another context; thanks for the reminder.

"the cabinet of dr. calagari" (an invention of an entirely new world, outrageous particularly in its time.)
"the true adventures of tom thumb" (hands down, the most incredible animation i've ever experienced to date.)
"brazil" (you know, i couldn't stand watching this, but it was no doubt a sensual experience of everything real life isn't.)

and of course.
"willy wonka and the chocolate factory" (i'd be ignoring dreams i had ages 8-16 if i didn't include this one.)

oh yeah, and "this is spinal tap!" is that not absolutely an invention of sorts?

also burton's rendition of "batman"...pretty impressive. i hear danny devito (penguin)'s eye popped out in the middle of the filming, and he just calmly popped it back in. okay, okay. i won't reply to myself anymore. sorry.

Whew! Whatta list.

Willy Wonka: very imaginative, truly worthy of this list.
Brazil: never seen
Tom Thumb: never seen
This is Spinal Tap: never seen
Batman: Burton, again, is amazing. Batman is a classic and no matter how hard they try, they can never make one as good. Though Batman Returns bit hard, the atmosphere was pretty cool.

you've never seen these films? go getcha before i flog!

about "who framed roger rabbit" and "cool world"- i really don't think they invented that medium of juxtaposition. i mean, you could take something like "yellow submarine" and juxtapose it with the beatles' actual appearance in it in the closing and i think that's a lot more unique than the experimentation that was going on in animation in the eighties. if i'm right, the aha "take on me" video did it better than either of the two above, and precedented...

i don't know. i'm a bit out of it tonight. i actually don't feel that strongly about this anymore. but you really should see those films i listed. esp. "the true adventures of tom thumb" and "the cabinet of dr. calagari"... if you haven't seen this is spinal tap, then yr just missing out on a whole new kind of laughter your belly has yet to experience.

I highly second the vote for Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and am utterly ashamed that I did not think of it before.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

I've never even heard of Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I suppose I should check that one out too.

It is a German film and easily one of the best silent films ever. This definitely should be on your list, as it meets your qualifications to a tee.

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

are we allowed to high five at

Five fingers your way!

Shalom, y'all!

L. Bangs

Finally saw this one in my History of Film class. You're right, it was pretty original. I think, though that much of the atmosphere and exaggeration of elements in the world of the film is typical of German Expressionism of that time. I am certainly no expert on the subject, but this is what I heard from my professor.

Anyway, having seen it, it absolutely fits my qualifications and is hence added to my list. Thank you both for recommendation of this film. It really is amazing.

Oops! It was probably obvious but I still should have mentioned that the film in question is The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Would the 5000 Fingers of Dr. T be different enough?

I'm afraid I've not seen this one, but if I recall correctly, it's Dr. Seuss, no? If it is, then yes, he is one of the kings of strange worlds.

Yep, it's Dr. Seuss, and he was definitely imaginative! 8^)

two more for ye list.

"TRON" (i was so thrilled to remember this one)

Alice in Wonderland - (thanks UncRoger) the original bizarre world...I can't believe I forgot this one to begin with! I would put this on the upper section, but I still really think of this one as a book.
---- ALICE IN WONDERLAND is a book.....