Review: "A Kind of Magic: How Highlander Changed the Fantasy Genre Forever"

26 April 2023

Highlander is a film that has stood the test of time, captivating audiences for over three decades. The story of Connor MacLeod, a Scottish warrior who discovers he is one of a group of immortals who must fight each other to the death until only one remains, is a tale of epic proportions that combines historical elements with fantasy and science fiction. 

This blend of genres creates a unique and thrilling experience for viewers, one that is sure to appeal to anyone who loves an action-packed adventure. 

Highlander is not just a film, it's a journey through history and mythology that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

highlander film poster

The creative team behind Highlander was truly exceptional. Director Russell Mulcahy's artistic eye and skillful use of visual effects and cinematography created a distinctive and immersive atmosphere that transports viewers to different eras and locations throughout the film. 

The film's writer, Gregory Widen, crafted a complex and engaging story that weaves together historical events and supernatural mythology, making for a truly compelling narrative. 

The cast of Highlander is led by the charismatic Christopher Lambert, whose portrayal of Connor MacLeod captures the essence of the character's Scottish roots and immortality. Lambert's acting is complemented by the villainous turn of Clancy Brown as the Kurgen, an immortal who relishes in killing his fellow immortals. The chemistry between the two actors is palpable, adding depth and complexity to the film's central conflict. Additionally, Sean Connery's portrayal of Ramirez, Connor's mentor, adds a layer of mentorship and guidance to the story, as well as a touch of humor.

Highlander's plot is a complex but engaging tale of destiny and the struggle between good and evil. The film is a fascinating exploration of immortality, mortality, and the price of both. The immortals are seemingly predestined to fight each other until only one remains, and as the film progresses, it becomes clear that there is much more at stake than just the survival of the strongest. The film's use of flashbacks to various historical events adds an extra layer of depth to the story, making it a truly immersive experience.

kurgen highlander fight

One of the central themes of Highlander is the idea of fate and destiny. The film explores the idea that the immortals are seemingly predestined to fight each other until only one remains, and that their actions are guided by a greater force. Another theme is the importance of mentorship, as Connor is trained in sword-fighting and immortality by his mentor, Ramirez. 

Ramirez's guidance is not only crucial in helping Connor survive, but also in helping him understand the importance of living a meaningful life. Finally, the film explores the idea of mortality and the price of immortality. Connor grapples with the burden of outliving his loved ones and the price of living forever.

The Kurgen is one of the most memorable villains in film history. Clancy Brown's performance is terrifying and unforgettable, making him a standout among the film's memorable cast of characters. The Kurgen's immortality and love for killing make him a formidable opponent for Connor, and their climactic battle is one of the film's most iconic moments. The Kurgen is a true embodiment of evil, making him the perfect foil to Connor's heroism.

Queen's iconic soundtrack for Highlander is a major part of the film's legacy. The band's contributions to the film include the legendary "Who Wants to Live Forever" and the energetic "Princes of the Universe." The music perfectly complements the film's action and adds an extra layer of excitement and emotion. Queen's music has become so intertwined with the film that it is impossible to separate the two. 

In fact, "Who Wants to Live Forever" has become one of Queen's most beloved songs, and the band continued to perform it in concert even after the film's release. The soundtrack also features other great tracks like "A Kind of Magic" and "One Year of Love" that add to the film's already impressive atmosphere.

Interestingly, Queen was not the first choice to compose the film's music. According to reports, the director Russell Mulcahy initially approached David Bowie and Tangerine Dream to create the score, but they declined. It was only after a chance meeting with Queen's guitarist Brian May that the band became involved in the project. Queen's contribution to the film's soundtrack was so successful that it is often cited as one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.

The success of the film's soundtrack also helped to boost the popularity of the Highlander franchise. The film and its sequels have since inspired spin-offs, TV shows, comic books, and video games. The franchise's enduring popularity is a testament to the enduring legacy of Queen's music and the film's timeless story of immortals battling for supremacy.

Overall, the combination of the film's epic storytelling, iconic characters, and Queen's unforgettable soundtrack has left a lasting legacy in the world of cinema. The film's influence can be seen in countless other movies and TV shows that have explored similar themes of immortality, mythology, and epic battles. Highlander remains a classic film that continues to entertain and inspire new generations of fans.

Trivia about Highlander

  • The film's original script was titled "Shadow Clan" and was set in modern-day New York City.
  • Christopher Lambert, who played the lead role of Connor MacLeod, was actually French and spoke very little English at the time of filming.
  • Sean Connery, who played the role of Ramirez, was only on set for seven days of filming, but his character left a lasting impression on the film.
  • The film's soundtrack was composed by Queen, who were originally supposed to only provide one song but ended up writing and recording the entire soundtrack.
  • The film's signature weapon, the katana sword, was actually a Chinese-style weapon, but was chosen for its distinctive look and popularity in Hollywood at the time.
  • The film was shot in Scotland, England, and New York City.
  • Clancy Brown, who played the villainous Kurgen, had to shave his head and eyebrows for the role.
  • The film's iconic "There can be only one" catchphrase was actually added to the script during post-production.
  • The film's original ending was changed due to poor test screenings. The original ending had Connor throwing the Kurgen out of a window, but audiences found it unsatisfying.
  • The film's fight choreography was done by legendary swordmaster Bob Anderson, who also worked on the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings films.
  • The film's director, Russell Mulcahy, got his start directing music videos for bands like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet.
  • The film's tagline, "There can be only one," has since become a pop culture catchphrase and has been referenced in numerous films and TV shows.
  •  A reboot of the Highlander franchise has been in development for years, with numerous directors and actors attached at various points, but the project has yet to come to fruition.


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About the author Jimmy Jangles

My name is Jimmy Jangles, the founder of The Astromech. I have always been fascinated by the world of science fiction, especially the Star Wars universe, and I created this website to share my love for it with fellow fans.

At The Astromech, you can expect to find a variety of articles, reviews, and analysis related to science fiction, including books, movies, TV, and games.
From exploring the latest news and theories to discussing the classics, I aim to provide entertaining and informative content for all fans of the genre.

Whether you are a die-hard Star Trek fan or simply curious about the world of science fiction, The Astromech has something for everyone. So, sit back, relax, and join me on this journey through the stars!
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