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8:14am on Tuesday, 15th November, 2005:

Another Lion, Another Witch and Another Wardrobe


There's a movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe out shortly. I dare say it was produced in the hope it would replicate the success of the Lord of the Rings and Hary Poter movies, but still, I like the book and will probably like the film.

We get a TV version of TLTW&TW every ten years or so in the UK, each one presented as if it were the first time it had ever been done. No reference is ever made to the fact that we saw one of these ten years previously. Invariably, they manage to cast at least one utterly obnoxious child in one of the starring roles, thus making the series unwatchable, but because it was expensive to make they acclaim it as a huge success. Then, ten years later, we get another one.

I read all the Narnia books when I was a child, and some are better than others. They always make TLTW&TW, because as the first in the series (well, first in order of publication — The Magician's Nephew is first in the timeline) it's the one that everyone reads first. The fact that it's not enchanting enough for them thereupon to go on and read all the other books in the series would seem to be immaterial.

As a child, I enjoyed The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Prince Caspian more; come to that, even The Silver Chair was better, although it probably doesn't have enough plot to make into a movie. They did make versions of these three books about 15 years ago, following TLTW&TW, but they weren't great. Not only did they suffer from obnoxious child syndrobe, they were mussed up so as to fit the TV format — artificial moments of suspense just before where the Americans would put a commercial break, that sort of thing. They were also too proud of their special effects: they'd spent the budget on them, and dammit, you were going to be impressed by them even if it meant that the rest of the series looked cheap and lacklustre as a result.

If this new movie is a success, I expect we can look forward to seeing at least The Voyage of the Dawn Treader as a follow-up. If it's not, well, ten years from now they'll try again anyway...

Referenced by The Lion, the Corpse and the Scratched Box.

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).