Magical Realism in Film

Magical Realism

The term magical realism may seem self-contradictory at first. It combines two words that exist on the opposite ends of a spectrum: magical evoking a sense of fantasy and impossibility, and realism representing the grounded, everyday world. In film, magical realism is a storytelling method where magic elements are a natural part in an otherwise mundane, realistic environment. Unlike pure fantasy, magical realism does not create a new universe but introduces extraordinary happenings into our own world.

This genre blurs the line between reality and fantasy so seamlessly that viewers accept supernatural occurrences without question. It often addresses complex human emotions and experiences, using the extraordinary to reveal a deeper truth about reality. This narrative technique has roots in Latin American literature, with authors like Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende popularising it through their writing.

Literary History of Magical Realism

Magical realism originated in literature, particularly in Latin American literature, before making its way into film. The genre emerged in the mid-20th century, with writers like Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Isabel Allende embracing this narrative style.

One of the earliest examples of magical realism in literature is García Márquez’s novel One Hundred Years of Solitude. Set in the fictional town of Macondo, the story weaves together generations of the Buendía family and incorporates fantastical elements such as levitation, telekinesis, and a plague of yellow butterflies. These magical occurrences are seamlessly integrated into everyday life, blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

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