Author C.S. Lewis created the fantastical world of Narnia in the 1940s. Since then the book series about the Pevensie children’s quests and adventures throughout The Chronicles of Narnia have been the subject of animated films, TV productions, video games, and major motion pictures.
Most recently, Walt Disney Pictures released The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe (2005) and Prince Caspian (2008). The latest entry in the film series, Voyage of the Dawn Treader opens in theaters on December 10, 2010 (produced by Fox 2000 Pictures this time around).
In 1988, the BBC produced four of the books in the Narnia series as a mini-series. Each book was divided into six half-hour episodes, and each is quite true to the books. So what’s the difference between this version of the book series and the current round of films?
Yep, you guessed it: budget and special effects. Granted, the effects in this 1988 series are impressive for their time; the Aslan puppet is particularly well made. One of the main differences is the use of men and women in make-up and costume instead of CG characters populating the world of Narnia (much like the original Star Wars trilogy versus the new one where CG is the name of the game). This doesn’t detract from the world of the story, however, and is rather enjoyable to watch.
Personally, I liked this version and I like the recent movies as well. Both approach the material with a level of reverence, but each also has its own qualities that make it unique. While the BBC version has the look and feel of the TV studio production, it doesn’t take away from the magic and fun that kids will certainly enjoy.
If you can’t wait for the next two films, this is your chance to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair before they are released in theaters. I also recommend checking out the book series and reading it as well.
The Bonus Features DVD includes the following:
Past Watchful Dragons
A look at the life of author C.S. Lewis with his biographer Humphrey Carpenter.
2003 Cast Reunion
Interviews with the four actors who portrayed the Pevensie children in the series.
BBC Breakfast News Interview (1988)
Interview with Barbara Kellerman (The White Witch) and Sophie Wilcox (Lucy Pevensie).
Blue Peter Interviews
A look at how Aslan was created and operated for the series.
Behind the Scenes
If you love C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia, I highly recommend this series from the BBC. It’s a definite must see!
The Chronicles of Narnia from the BBC is available NOW on DVD!
What’s your favorite Narnia book, film, or character? Leave a comment and let us know!