1980s BBC Narnia

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1980s BBC Narnia

Postby Princess Frances » Jan 30, 2016 6:51 am

What are peoples' views on the BBC Narnia since the movies came out?
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby DiGoRyKiRkE » Jan 30, 2016 1:32 pm

I think this topic would be better suited for the general movie discussion forum. I've moved it there. ;)
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby King_Erlian » Feb 01, 2016 7:30 am

I saw the BBC LWW when it was first transmitted in the late '80s. I hated it. It was slow, it was boring, it wasn't well-cast, and the effects were dreadful even by the BBC's standards at that time.(Narnia '88 = Doctor Who '72.) I actually thought they had made it so bad on purpose in order to mock the material.

PC being cut down to just under two 25-minute episodes was practically non-existent, though at least they had a Caspian of the right age. Having an adult Caspian in the Walden film changed the whole story into a Twilight-esque teen thing, which I didn't like.

VDT was four episodes and still a bit rushed, but was better. I liked Eustace, but I liked Will Poulter's Eustace even more as he was very funny.

I didn't see SC until a year or two ago when I got the DVD and thought it was the best of the BBC series. Tom Baker was superb as Puddleglum and I liked the children playing Eustace and Jill. Rilian was good, too. But the special effects were still awful - when they "shrank" Eustace, Jill and Puddleglum to make them look small compared to the giants of Harfang, people's feet and hands kept disappearing and reappearing.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby Skilletdude » Feb 02, 2016 4:20 pm

I am blinded by nostalgia regarding these, but let me defend them a bit. My parents bought me the LWW VHS in the early 90's. I found the other two at our church library and checked them out many times.

No, they are not technically well-crafted films, but there is much I still like about them.

Barbara Kellerman's White Witch, she acts like a maniac, which I think is much closer to Lewis' version (her rampage in London from MN, for instance). Swinton's take on her is fine, but too composed for my liking.

And it captures many great scenes from the book; Rumblebuffin helping the captured Narnian's escape the castle, Cornelius and Caspian's stargazing at the tower, Governor Gumpas being put in his rightful place, and the spiritual battle with words in Underland between the travelers, Rilian and the Lady of the Green Kirtle.

The music is also a big highlight. It's simple yet majestic, capturing the spirit of the books very well.

And okay, the BBC LWW inspired me to read the books for the first time when I was six. That's why they still remain proudly in my DVD collection.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Feb 02, 2016 6:00 pm

I loved the BBC Narnia before the movies and I love them even more now. I prefer the BBC's Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the Walden versions. I love how much of the dialog is taken directly from the book.

King_Erlian wrote:I actually thought they had made it so bad on purpose in order to mock the material.
I was asked not too long ago why I like the BBC Narnia so much. I've thought about it on and off since then. One of the reasons I came up was that they respect the material.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby Glumpuddle » Feb 03, 2016 9:25 am

I think people often forget to look at these as a series. LWW, for example, is not a 2h40m movie. It's 6 episodes. I think it's only fair to judge them that way.

My opinion of these has softened over the years. They are not unwatchable, but I still find them rather bland and not very well directed.

I love the way LWW opens with setting up the spooky house, and Lucy meeting Tumnus mostly works though Sophie is too old for the role. And I like the episode breaks for the first couple. It's cool how Episode 2 starts with Edmund telling the Witch about Tumnus and ending with them reading the note at Tumnus' house.
But most everything else is... not terrible I guess, but pretty dull and uninspiring. Barbara Kellerman's White Witch is intolerably annoying and Aslan's dialogue is sleep-inducing. The kids performances are a mixed bag.

PC is comically bad, imo. It's clear that they just wanted to get that story over with so they could do VDT. The whole story feels like a montage and there is little sense of a real threat.

It's just the direction I think, for me. There's not much excitment. People just kinda say things and do things...blah blah.

As for adaptation: Again, pretty dull and not very inspiring. Part of what makes the books magical is Lewis' astonishing ability to give you only a few details that suggest so much more in your mind. Or giving just the faint suggestion of an interesting idea that grows and grows there more I ponder it. The BBC versions don't do this, so what we're left with is just the surface. Little of the depth from the books is retained in the BBC versions. I get the sense that the producers were just blindly copying the book without really understanding what Lewis was trying to do. My favorite scene in all the books, Jill meeting Aslan, is horribly done.

Again, they are not unwatchable and some of the magic of visiting another world is there. But I'm not a fan overall.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 05, 2016 3:52 am

I was interested when the TV series was first made and shown of an afternoon. As Glumpuddle mentions above, the entire series was made to be divided into episodes which worked especially badly in PC and VDT. So when it came out on videotapes, and especially on DVD, I kept thinking something was being left out. You really have to watch the combined PC and VDT DVD to realise that the end of the PC disc includes the beginning of the VDT DVD episodes. I, too, got the feeling that BBC, with an increasingly anti-Christianity bias, only did things on the cheap, with sloppy casting etc. Listening to BBC's Audio tapes and later CD's was much better, and in some ways I prefer these to any of the TV productions. These did come out by 1989 and they covered the whole series, including Last Battle.

King_Erlian wrote:PC being cut down to just under two 25-minute episodes was practically non-existent, though at least they had a Caspian of the right age. Having an adult Caspian in the Walden film changed the whole story into a Twilight-esque teen thing, which I didn't like.


Watching it on TV with intervals for the many commercials which give us free-to-air TV pads a 25 minute episode into something more like an hour. Unlike yourself, I really disliked that little boy's acting in PC, though he tried well enough. If they had chosen a boy more the same age and height as even the boy who played Edmund in that movie I'd have been happier. After all, both Caspian and Peter were supposed to be the same age, and not a teenaged Peter with a Caspian even younger and smaller than Lucy.

King_Erlian wrote:VDT was four episodes and still a bit rushed, but was better. I liked Eustace, but I liked Will Poulter's Eustace even more as he was very funny.


Yes VDT was a bit better, though the boat they had on the BBC couldn't hold a candle to the Dawn Treader in the Walden film. If you saw it up close, you'd see just how lovingly the details were made on the Walden boat. I'm not sure that Samuel West was any better than Ben Barnes as King Caspian, though I preferred him to the little boy Prince, who so bizaarely turned up at the end of SC. By the way, did you know the hag in the BBC PC was also another role played by Barbara Kellerman? Funnily enough I remember the BBC wanting to pull the series at the end of VDT but reluctantly agreeing to do Silver Chair as well.

King_Erlian wrote:I didn't see SC until a year or two ago when I got the DVD and thought it was the best of the BBC series. Tom Baker was superb as Puddleglum and I liked the children playing Eustace and Jill. Rilian was good, too.


On DVD it truly is the best of the series. Especially as so far we've had nothing else to compare it with. Even Barbara Kellerman's Lady of the Green Kirtle was better than her earlier performance as Jadis the White Witch. And I agree with you about Rilian, Puddleglum, Eustace and Jill. Likes include the scenes in the Underground Palace, the escape from Underworld and Eustace's little encounter with a dragon on Ettinsmoor.

Dislikes include the LOTGK's turning into such a fake snake it might have come from one of those sorts of stores which sell practical joke equipment, such as balls and chains for bucks' parties. And why oh why didn't they use Samuel West as Caspian at the end of that TV film instead of the boy who played Caspian in PC?
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby King_Erlian » Feb 10, 2016 2:22 am

One thing I forgot to mention before was the animatronic Aslan. At first I was glad that they didn't just have an actor in a lion costume walking around on two legs, as I've seen in some stage productions of LWW (I've never seen any stage productions of any of the others). (I know there's a Pauline Baynes illustration in the book of Aslan walking on two legs, conferring with the White Witch, but I'm not sure whether that was Lewis' idea or hers.)

But after a while, I found it tiresome, because it was quite literally such a wooden performance. Very little of the animatronic lion moved apart from the mouth, and that only flapped up and down without any attempt to make the mouth shape match the words. Miniscule budget again. That was one area were the Walden films were definitely better, in that they could have a realistic lion that could speak without actually putting the cast at risk from being eaten.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby narnia fan 7 » Mar 02, 2016 7:25 pm

I first saw them when I was four or five years old and in fact I think they were my first exposure to Narnia and I remember thinking they were really cool at the time but I didn't remember much about them until I watch them again a few years ago.

A having seen them again I find them almost unbearably dull lifeless and sleep inducing, The acting is pretty bad for the most part and the production values are poor even by 80's tv standard's.

LWW is I think the dullest of them the Pevensie actors are hit and miss, the white witch completely over the top, Aslan sound like he needs a nap all the time , I do like the actor for Tumnus and they did a okay job making the professor's house a bit creepy and mysterious.

PC I always have trouble remembering about it they fast forward though it too get too Dawn Treader the only thing I do remember is that Trufflehunter was a women for some reason, Then VDT is some what okay the actor for Eustace is good for the most part the older Caspian isn't bad either and the Dawn Treader look' s okay for the budget but the way they did the Dufflpuds is hilarious.

SC is the best by default Tom Baker is pretty good as Puddleglumm, The underland scenes look some what decent and I think it was kind of a neat idea too have a mask on Rilian but it suffers from the same dullness as the rest of them.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Mar 02, 2016 7:43 pm

Narnia fan 7 wrote:LWW is I think the dullest of them...., Aslan sound like he needs a nap all the time.


I understand that Aslan was an early version of animatronics. Apparently there is to be a display of Animatronic dinosaurs in the Melbourne Museum, in the near future. I hope they aren't too sleepy to be very interesting. /:) Or, have they improved the technology since then?
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby NarnianArcher » Jul 04, 2016 6:51 am

I loved the BBC movies. I saw them when I was young, and at the time, I didn't have high technical standards. Though I must say I hated that the "beavers" were taller than the children. But I loved them because despite all their (many) imperfections, they really captured the spirit of the books.

Perhaps it's not possible to enjoy them if you're watching for the first time today, given the quality we expect now. If that's so, that's a shame, because though the new movies are SO so much better in terms of production, I think they missed the heart and spirit of the books. I still enjoy watching the BBC version, and I actually like the slower pace. There's a beauty in it to me.

Soon, I'll introduce my children to the BBC movies. I hope they love them too.
I own the new LWW and VoDT, but I confess I couldn't watch the new PC more than once! I really hope that the next movie version captures more of the essence of the books, and not just major plot points.
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Re: 1980s BBC Narnia

Postby jewel » Dec 12, 2016 4:25 pm

I liked them. They are generally closer to the books then the new ones. The effects may not be the best, but the acting and stories are good.
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