Monday, 25 January 2010

The BBC Took Alot out of their Coffers to Produce this Classic!

BBC Chronicles of Narnia: LWW - Chapter 1/6 Part 1/3

On Youtube, this is the first of six episodes, split into 3 parts, for one of the BBC's most ambitious efforts of the late-80's, if not the whole decade. This was a TV adaption of what was to be 4 of the famous C.S. Lewis books based on the fantasy action/drama "The Chronicles of Narnia". Today we are looking at the first adventure in the series "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe". It was a big event at the time, shown on Sunday evening near Christmas time. Great orchestral music features throughout. Basically it follow the story of 4 evacuated children from London during the Second World War in 1940. The children are Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie. Lucy finds a wardrobe at their new home, and she goes through bundles of coats hanging inside the wardrobe, to a new dimension, a new world which is Narnia. A world where animals can talk, but not exactly wearing business suits yet. Here Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus. The other 3 children discover this new, mysterious land, where they are destined almost, to be Kings and Queens, along with the help of mystical guru Aslan the Lion and Mr. and Mrs Beaver, to defeat the evil ruler of Narina, the White Witch, and her dastardly servant Maugrim the Wolf. She has imprisoned the land and wildlife with a never-ending winter. Edmund is unimpressed with narnia, but falls too easily to the darker side.

So at the time, there were pretty nifty special effects, as well as introducing the viewers to Animatronics. This was to to mechanise the puppetry of Aslan the lion, to appear more realistic, it's not a man in a costume. However, the emotion displayed is although limited, and so are his mouth movements, as he speaks, but it just about works. Aslan comes across as a very chilled, controlled being, so little movement was needed. A real lion was used in some scenes, obviously, running scenes. It looks dated, but at least you could say, the other actors can see who they are talking to. The other animals, perhaps too complicated to use Animatronics, or not enough budget, but such as Maugrim the Wolf, it was a man in a wolf costume, his human face seeping through the costume, but "done up" as best as they can. Of course, you've maybe seen the 2005 movie now, and the animals are all CGI, with some use of real animals.

The special effects weren't exactly 3-D as of yet, but were good for it's time, however they did use the blue-green screen in the next series (Prince Caspian). I thought the acting was all-round good, and Barbara Kellerman as The White Witch, sometimes accused of "hamming it up" with over-the-top displays of anger and evil sustained into the mix, I thought she was alot more menacing and frightening than Hollywood's version (Tilda Swanton). Having seen all 4 series, it's very hard to name a best one, but this first adventure has the most iconic imagery, with the whole land encrusted in a blanket of snow and the White Witch's prestigious costume, especially her wildly high-looking tiara, or crown. A must-see, but some may prefer the Hollywood version.

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