He was to fantasy what Hitchcock was to suspense.
The passing of Alfred Hitchcock last April occasioned world-wide tributes to his cinematographic artistry, but the loss of Terence Fisher at about the same time went virtually ignored, which is a pity, because Fisher was to fantasy—particularly fantasy of the classic, Gothic style—what Hitchcock was to suspense. And ignorance of Fisher’s work is also unfortunate because an examination of the major theme of his films shows him to have been a strong ally of orthodox theology.
Fisher was a British creative artist in much the same tradition as C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Dorothy L. Sayers, but his name is not as familiar as those of his literary counterparts. This is principly because Fisher was an artist of the cinema, not the written word. For many who are interested in the cinematic genre of fantasy and the supernatural, however, Fisher’s name stands supreme.
Fisher’s great contribution was his reinterpretation of such classic British romantic fantasy as Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Evangelicals, even in Britain, generally have not given him his due and this is unfortunate since Fisher is on the side of Christian truth. Consider some of the main themes of his films, produced mostly in the ten-year period from 1957 to 1967. He was an uncompromising believer in the supernatural, an ardent skeptic regarding secular science and modernity, a believer in the inherent evil of human beings, and confident in the ultimate triumph of love and God over the forces of the demonic.
The basic scenario of a Fisher film runs as follows. A young person, usually in the late nineteenth century, is drawn unwittingly into a trap of sordid evil. But evil usually takes the ...1
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