BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

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BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Cleander » Feb 26, 2019 7:50 pm

This past month I watched the BBC version of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" for the first time! I had seen all the other BBC Narnia movies, but I finally got around to watching the first one last! :-\
So here's my review:
First, I would like to make allowances for the lower level of technology these people had to work with (who doesn't?). BUUUT.... for the 1980's even, I think this was totally corny. The animal costumes were not as realistic as they could have been, the acting (especially Barbara Kellerman as the White Witch) was overdone and awkward, the animated creatures were both stupid AND unnecessary, and the battle... oh boy. They didn't even look like they were fighting! And the music didn't fit and blah blah blah blah....
OK, I know that's probably a common shpiel among many Narnia fans. So now, what aspects of the BBC LWW were admirable? What did they get right that other versions should (have) pay(ed) attention to?
There were a lot of things that did stand out to me, actually here's a few of them:
1. The White Witch's Castle was made of stone. True to the book, with a very creepy interior, though not a very big one. And it doesn't run the obvious risk of melting. ;)
2. Slower pace. There's more time to meet the characters (though I may not have liked all of them) and enjoy the atmosphere of the world (which for the most part is pretty enjoyable. Especially because it's REAL.)
3. More real stuff! There's just no need for CGI backdrops and excessive use of studio sets! The real world has enough beauty in it to have inspired Narnia; let it represent it!
These are just a few on my list; I'm hoping to further discuss this with ya'll later!
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Col Klink » Feb 26, 2019 8:22 pm

It's been a while since I watched that adaptation but I remember not liking the casting of Peter. Or maybe there was a problem with the writing.

He was always chastising Edmund for being a brat which I theoretically like; it definitely makes sense for the characters. But the way it played out, it made Peter come across as really self righteous compared to the other kids. I found it hard to like him. (When Susan objects to being "it" when they play hide-and-seek, he says she has to because he's the oldest and he says so.)

I know some people are throwing up their hands at me saying that about the BBC series when the Walden Media adaptation of Peter made him way more full of himself and hard to like. But...I can think of other things to say, both good and bad, about that Narnia adaptation. There's not a lot about the BBC LWW that stands out me so I focus on what I can.

I kind of wish there was a transcript of online for me to read. Then I could give more thoughts on the adaptation without having to actually watch the bland thing. ;))
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Narnian78 » Mar 05, 2019 8:34 am

There was one thing that I liked about the BBC production that hasn't been mentioned here before was the location of filming in Wales and other parts of Britain. I think Narnia (as C. S. Lewis portrayed it) was much like medieval England. The outdoor locations made the setting feel more like Britain (where much of it was actually filmed), and although they didn't have much money, I think that part of it worked. As for the sets, they were simple and maybe even a bit plain according to the small budget, but I think they did the job. The Beaver's house and dam were actually quite good. If they had more expensive equipment the artwork of the sets and the outdoor locations (e.g. of Scotland where I think the White Witch came to Edmund) would have shown up better.

Of the actors I loved Tom Baker as Puddleglum in The Silver Chair. In fact I think he was as about as good as he was as Dr. Who. It doesn't really matter that much to me if some people believe the series was corny. The actors playing the four children were not professionals and performed as well as most children would. The animal costumes probably could have been better, but maybe the people that made them thought they were making the best ones possible.

If you visit The Lamp-post Listener podcast you will find a generally positive review of the old BBC series. Here is a link to the podcast:

http://narniapodcast.libsyn.com/wardrobe-bbc-adaptation


I think it is the best and most fair review that I have found of the BBC version because it discusses both the positive qualities and limitations (imperfections) that the old series had. It's also well worth checking out their other podcasts.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Narnian78 » Jan 15, 2020 3:26 am

I wonder if the BBC will ever become involved with Narnia again. They stopped at the end of the Silver Chair and that was the end of it. But it would be nice if there were a biography series similar to the one on Charles Dickens, which was made in the 1970’s. It explored the life of that author, and C.S. Lewis’ lifetime would be just as interesting to portray. :)
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Glenwit » Jan 21, 2020 6:57 pm

Cleander wrote: and the battle... oh boy. They didn't even look like they were fighting!


While I mainly found the BBC LWW to be an adaptation that was not fantastic but not horrible either, I do have to agree about the battle scene.

Kind of an epic fail.

To put it in perspective...
About 10 years ago, a Christian K-8 school in my city put on a stage play of LWW (I went to one of the shows because a bunch of my friends were in it). Youngest member of the cast was 5, oldest was 14, varying levels of acting ability. And their battle scene was literally better than this one.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby coracle » Jan 21, 2020 10:35 pm

Narnian78 wrote:I wonder if the BBC will ever become involved with Narnia again. They stopped at the end of the Silver Chair and that was the end of it.


I note that since the BBC TV serials, the BBC has been casting the child characters much too old for the role. I'd only be happy if they were to use younger actors, and were very true to the books, while making good TV.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Cleander » Jan 22, 2020 7:42 pm

Glenwit wrote:To put it in perspective...
About 10 years ago, a Christian K-8 school in my city put on a stage play of LWW (I went to one of the shows because a bunch of my friends were in it). Youngest member of the cast was 5, oldest was 14, varying levels of acting ability. And their battle scene was literally better than this one.


Why am I not surprised? Just give a crowd of kids some safe prop swords and shields, they'll figure it out themselves and make it more realistic than this every time.
I suspect the "battle" in the BBC show was being deliberately toned down to make it as non-scary to little kids as possible.... but I think even the little kids might expect more out of a movie battle than a man in a beaver suit repeatedly poking a spear at a monster that's not there. =))
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Glenwit » Jan 23, 2020 8:56 am

Cleander wrote: PS- love your new avatar btw!


Aha thanks, brother!

I figured it was about time I got one :D

One thing I really liked about the BBC version was the professor. Michael Aldridge was just amazing in the role - especially in the beginning when he mocked Mrs. McCready straight to her face and she just had to go with it. Also, when he was, quoting Peter, "trying to be military". =))

That was one thing that they did better than the Walden film - which kinda ruined the professor for me. He only got 4 minutes of screentime, and he's in pajamas for 3 of them.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Col Klink » Jan 23, 2020 10:50 am

I didn't get the impression from the professor's performance that he was being sarcastic in response to Mrs. Macready. It came across to me like he was unaware how silly he sounded.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Ryadian » Jan 23, 2020 1:31 pm

Glenwit wrote:That was one thing that they did better than the Walden film - which kinda ruined the professor for me. He only got 4 minutes of screentime, and he's in pajamas for 3 of them.


In so much agreement here. I still haven't forgiven the Walden professor for not taking Peter and Susan seriously until they mentioned that Lucy's adventure started "in the upstairs wardrobe". I believe that book-professor would have taken them seriously even if they had never mentioned the wardrobe. Plus I loved Michael Aldridge's read on "Oh, logic! What do they teach children in these schools?!" Maybe because that was an overly repeated quote in our house. ;))

Cleander wrote:...And the music didn't fit and blah blah blah blah....


Huh, the music is actually one of the things I really liked about the BBC Narnia. Granted, not all of the music is entirely memorable, but the opening theme is probably my favorite bit of Narnian music anywhere - it instantly transports me to Narnia whenever I hear it. I wish other adaptations could use it!

Then again, I also remembered the music when Edmund is crossing the courtyard full of statues being sufficiently eerie. I re-watched that scene, and in hindsight, I think the music itself was perfect, it just... didn't fit with Edmund casually walking across the courtyard. (Not helped by the fact that that scene starts by continuing the weird "Edmund's conscience is literally speaking to him" thing. I'd completely forgotten about that!) So maybe that's what you meant. ;))
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Col Klink » Jan 23, 2020 10:02 pm

Then again, I also remembered the music when Edmund is crossing the courtyard full of statues being sufficiently eerie. I re-watched that scene, and in hindsight, I think the music itself was perfect, it just... didn't fit with Edmund casually walking across the courtyard.


That's interesting because I think the music for the Narnia miniseries is kind of overrated but I'd describe the scene in the White Witch's courtyard being one of the best scenes in the LWW one. Of course, I don't remember a lot specifically about either the music or Edmund's actor's performance. (I'm sorry. I'm bad at remembering actors' names.) That was just sort of my broad impression.
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Re: BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review

Postby Narnian78 » Jan 25, 2020 2:09 am

coracle wrote:
Narnian78 wrote:I wonder if the BBC will ever become involved with Narnia again. They stopped at the end of the Silver Chair and that was the end of it.


I note that since the BBC TV serials, the BBC has been casting the child characters much too old for the role. I'd only be happy if they were to use younger actors, and were very true to the books, while making good TV.


It would be nice if they would try again, but I’m afraid that they wouldn’t finish the series (it happened before). Having younger actors might help to draw more viewers. However, I think there are too many unfinished versions of Narnia, and it would be just another incomplete serial.
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