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Animated LWW

Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Guru

Well, since we've had a discussion about BBC Narnia’s 35th Anniversary, it turns out that in 2024, it will be the 45th anniversary of when the animated LWW first aired on TV. That's crazy: this year being the 35th anniversary of the BBC's LWW, 2024 being the 45th anniversary of the animated LWW, and in 2005, it will be the 20th anniversary of when Walden's LWW was released in theaters.

The animated LWW was actually the first adaptation of not only LWW but of Narnia that I've watched. I've only seen the one with the American voices, I haven't seen one with the English voices. I'm sure there are some who prefer this to the BBC or the Walden, but I'm not here to debate that. It's based on personal preference.

It actually started with Lucy coming out the wardrobe, telling her brothers and sister that she had been to Narnia. Then her entrance into Narnia was shown all in a flash back. It seemed like an odd place to start.

I'll have to say that the White Witch's design kind of reminds me of the Evil Queen from Disney's Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. There was also an addition where after she had killed Aslan at the Stone Table, she lines up her people and standing at the ridge, preparing for battle. Well, she's a general or at least acting like one.

Then of course, the romp with Aslan and the two girls which often gets cut out. At least the animated included that, though the flowers springing up wasn't in the book. There's also the statues coming to life with sparkly magic, which also wasn't in the book. But hey, it's animated, so it must be creative license.

As for the tension, it does have kind of a chase scene, or what look like a chase scene. It was more like you see the wolves racing in one shot, the White Witch, the dwarf, and Edmund in a sleigh in one shot, and the Beavers, Peter, Susan and Lucy braving the snowstorm in another. There's also where while Aslan and the girls are at the White Witch's castle, it cuts every now and then to the boys at the battle. I think they did that to set up the tension, "Can Aslan free the statues in time?"

Some trivia I've found out in recent years about this:

Aslan was voiced by Stephen Thorn, who also voiced him in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Narnia. Wow, voicing Aslan in both adaptations of Narnia.

Mr. Tumnus was voiced by Victor Spinetti, who actually went on to voiced Shift the Ape in the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre adaption of The Last Battle. Who knew that he would go from voicing a nice character to a not so nice one?

The animated LWW was directed by Bill Melendez, who's actually best known for directing the Peanuts specials (which I've actually been watching lately), including A Charlie Brown Christmas. Well, since A Charlie Brown Christmas has a special place in my heart (I've watch it every year during the Holiday season), it's actually kind of nice that the director got to direct an animated adaptation of Narnia.

Plus, it's only about 90 minutes long. So a good enough time span to keep kids entertained. While it may not have been the best I've seen, it still kept me entertained as a kid.

It's almost crazy to think that it will be 45 years since the animated LWW aired on TV. Do any of you remember when it aired on TV? Was this the first adaptation you've watched or was it how you were introduced to Narnia?

 

 

 

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Topic starter Posted : November 11, 2023 8:35 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Fanatic Hospitality Committee

Hey, now how come it's "crazy" that this adaptation is nearly 45 years old, if you don't mind me asking? It's only a few years older than me, after all, and I don't consider my age "crazy"! Giggle   (But then, I seem to have a really odd perception of time compared to most human beings. Almost everyone I know comments on how "time flies" and "the year has flown" and so on, whereas to me it feels like about 10 years since I had breakfast, never mind since this year started. But that probably IS crazy. Grin )

The animated version of LWW was in fact my first-ever encounter with Narnia! It was shown on TV (definitely TV; we didn't have a video player then!) when I was 4 years old, in 1986. (I can pinpoint the year because I remember where we were living at the time, as we moved house at the end of that year.) I couldn't follow much of the story and didn't retain much of it except the bright sparkly magic when Aslan brought the statues to life, but I loved the quirky title — I mean, The Lion, the Witch and the... Wardrobe??? That last one is such an unexpected thing to find in the title of a fantasy story!

But as I said, I don't think I absorbed much of the plot of the film, as later that same year, my mum got hold of the book and read it to me, and I recognised the title at once and was very excited, but most of the story seemed new to me — I clearly hadn't retained very much from that one viewing of the animated version. I didn't even remember that Aslan died and came back to life, as I know I was shocked when Mum read me that part at bedtime — the Witch wasn't really going to kill Aslan, was she?! Thank goodness we read on to the next chapter and the Deeper Magic before lights out, or I wouldn't have been able to sleep that night...

I didn't watch the animated LWW again until I was an adult, and though I had to giggle a bit at Aslan's mane looking a bit like a late '70s hairdo, and some of the other slightly silly effects like Mr Tumnus having green hair and hopping about like a frog, I really enjoyed it. It's mostly faithful to the book and none of the slight changes have a huge effect on the plot. (For example, Father Christmas is left out and Aslan gives Peter and Susan and Lucy their special gifts instead, but that still makes sense and works well enough.) I quite like the flowers appearing as Aslan leaps about! Funnily enough, it's a little reminiscent of the cover of the first paperback (Puffin) edition of the book, which has a colour illustration by Pauline Baynes showing the two girls romping with Aslan, and they're wrapping a long garland of flowers around him as they dance about. I wonder if that's where the animators got the idea? (That's the cover that was on the copy that Mum read to me all those years ago, so I still think of it as "the" cover of LWW.)

90 minutes is, as you say, a good length for young viewers. I would say the book itself is the best introduction to Narnia of all, but this adaptation is a nice one for young kids to watch, although I'm guessing the traditional hand-drawn animation may look strange to today's youngsters who are used to CGI animation. I'd be interested to hear if anyone here has shown the animated version to their kids or grandkids, and what they thought of it.

I've never watched the version with American accents, by the way, only the British version — I wonder why they felt the need to make the two? Are British accents really that strange and foreign to Americans? I would think Narnia, being so quintessentially British, would sound wrong with American accents — but to be fair, it'd sound just as wrong with Aussie accents. (Like mine. Wink )

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : November 11, 2023 11:02 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

Yes, the animated version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe from 1979 is over forty years old and to me it looked too much like the decade it was made in.  I thought it was somewhat entertaining and enjoyable, but wasn’t the part of the story that happened in our world supposed to be in the 1940’s?   That was my main issue with the television special.  It does follow the plot of the book with a fair degree of accuracy, which was good.  But I always liked the BBC dramas better because I wanted to see real people acting in the roles. The animation in the 1979 special was a bit plain and the four children looked like they were from the 1970’s.  I thought the animation was better and had more authentic detail in the 1977 film of The Hobbit, which was also made for television. I didn’t dislike the 1979 version based on the first Narnia book, but I was glad that real people performed as actors in the other films about Narnia that followed. An animated production could be made again, but hopefully the correct time period and realism of the original story will be in the presentation. 

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Posted : November 12, 2023 4:10 am
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Guru

@courtenay 

I've had it on VHS when I've watched it as a kid. I also recalled where Mr. Tumnus is playing the flute, it almost looked like he was growing and turning into flames.

There was also a moment that when the White Witch kills Aslan, lightening flashes. I think that was done for dramatic effect. I think it's a good thing to get dramatic.

I would also agree that those who have watched CGI 3D animation would by turned off by a traditional handrawn 2D animation. But hey, hand drawn animation was the style that a lot of us grew up watching (even for one who was born in the 90's).

I also agree that 90 minutes is a good time length for young viewers. This is probably the first adaptation I would show to my kids, since they would probably have a hard time to sit through the BBC, especially if had been converted from series to one film, and probably wouldn't be ready for the Walden.

I would also be interested if anyone on here had shown their kids or grand kids the animated LWW and what their thoughts were.

@narnian78

The 1970's style is bit of a turned off, yes, especially when it's supposed to take place during the 1940's. Not only that, but there's no mention of the kids being sent away from London during the war.

Though I would say I kind of preferred this to Ralph Bashki's animated Lord of the Rings. While the animation quality in LWW is a bit cheesy, it is still pretty decent.

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2023 1:23 pm
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Fanatic Hospitality Committee
Posted by: @jasmine_tarkheena
I also recalled where Mr. Tumnus is playing the flute, it almost looked like he was growing and turning into flames.
Yes, that bit was a bit "trippy" and not really necessary, but oh well... Shocked  

I would also agree that those who have watched CGI 3D animation would by turned off by a traditional handrawn 2D animation. But hey, hand drawn animation was the style that a lot of us grew up watching (even for one who was born in the 90's).

I don't know about "turned off", but would they find hand-drawn animation looks strange and hokey compared to CGI, or does it still seem pretty normal? I don't have any very young friends or relatives (like, under 10), so I'd be interested to hear what others here find young kids think of traditional animation — though I'm sure their opinions vary!

The 1970's style is bit of a turned off, yes, especially when it's supposed to take place during the 1940's. Not only that, but there's no mention of the kids being sent away from London during the war.

That said, the book itself only mentions the war once, in the second sentence of the first chapter, and the story doesn't depend on it or on that particular period of history — it's just used as a plot device to get the children staying in a big and mysterious country house without their parents. The children themselves never mention the war, or express any fears for their parents or friends back in London, or draw any comparisons between the White Witch's tyrannical rule in Narnia and Hitler's violent takeover of most of western Europe. So the actual story, as Lewis wrote it, doesn't lose anything by not being set during WW2. It's only certain modern adaptations (the Walden film and at least one stage production that I've seen) that make a big deal the wartime setting. Whereas the plot itself could easily be set in any period up to about the 1980s — before mobile phones and computers became common — without it affecting anything that happens in the story.

A similar case in point is that there was a TV adaptation of Enid Blyton's Famous Five series that did the same thing — the original books were written and implicitly set in the 1940s and '50s, but the TV version made in the late 1970s gave the characters '70s-style clothes, hairstyles, bikes, cars and so on. But the actual plots of the stories were barely changed at all and followed the books closely.

So for me, the 1979 LWW not being set in the same era as the book isn't a big problem and doesn't affect my enjoyment of the show. Now if they'd done what one proposed modern version (mercifully never made) was reportedly going to do — have the White Witch tempt Edmund with cheeseburgers instead of Turkish Delight... D\'oh Crying Eyebrow  

 

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : November 12, 2023 4:36 pm
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Guru
Posted by: @courtenay

 

I don't know about "turned off", but would they find hand-drawn animation looks strange and hokey compared to CGI, or does it still seem pretty normal? I don't have any very young friends or relatives (like, under 10), so I'd be interested to hear what others here find young kids think of traditional animation — though I'm sure their opinions vary!

I think opinions do vary when it comes to styles of animation! Nothing against CGI, but I think a lot of us grew up watching hand drawn animation.

Since I've mentioned that the White Witch's design in the animated LWW made me think of the Evil Queen from Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs was not only Disney's first animated feature, but the very first animated movie. It was unheard of at the time!

Posted by: @courtenay

That said, the book itself only mentions the war once, in the second sentence of the first chapter, and the story doesn't depend on it or on that particular period of history — it's just used as a plot device to get the children staying in a big and mysterious country house without their parents. The children themselves never mention the war, or express any fears for their parents or friends back in London, or draw any comparisons between the White Witch's tyrannical rule in Narnia and Hitler's violent takeover of most of western Europe. So the actual story, as Lewis wrote it, doesn't lose anything by not being set during WW2. It's only certain modern adaptations (the Walden film and at least one stage production that I've seen) that make a big deal the wartime setting. Whereas the plot itself could easily be set in any period up to about the 1980s — before mobile phones and computers became common — without it affecting anything that happens in the story.

Well, we have already mentioned that the White Witch acts like a general where she lines up her people and where their standing at the ridge! And of course, she actually acts like a general in the Walden as well! My guess would be is that she does it to show how much authority she has!

Posted by: @courtenay

So for me, the 1979 LWW not being set in the same era as the book isn't a big problem and doesn't affect my enjoyment of the show.

I don't think it should! There were quite a few that were cut out, like Mrs. Macready giving a house tour, which lead all the kids into Narnia. Instead, the kids just went in there on their own without trying to hide. They even cut out where Susan acts like a mother to Edmund, "Isn't time you were in bed?" Though that would've been too much for a 90 minute time frame.

So I don't think the setting and what was added or what was cut out should effect anything.

 

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Topic starter Posted : November 12, 2023 8:47 pm
Sir Cabbage
(@sir-cabbage)
NarniaWeb Regular

Happy 45th, Animated LWW! 😀

So... is it really worth watching? I wanted to get it on DVD, but then was a little put off by some of the screenshots. Should I be kinder and give it a whirl? 

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Posted : November 28, 2023 9:55 am
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Guru

@sir-cabbage 

I think you should check it out and judge for yourself. The animation quality isn't that great, I'll admit, but it is something worth checking out. As I've mentioned before, I've actually kind of preferred the animated LWW to Ralph Baskhi's animated Lord of the Rings. So it's worth checking out.

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Topic starter Posted : November 28, 2023 10:59 am
Courtenay
(@courtenay)
NarniaWeb Fanatic Hospitality Committee
Posted by: @sir-cabbage

Happy 45th, Animated LWW! 😀

So... is it really worth watching? I wanted to get it on DVD, but then was a little put off by some of the screenshots. Should I be kinder and give it a whirl? 

I think it's worth giving it a go, if you feel like it — you won't know how you really feel about it, after all, until you've seen it! Wink It's a sweet little production and definitely aimed at younger viewers, but it's pretty faithful to the book overall — some things are cut out or shortened, but there aren't any "new" characters or plot elements added. I don't know anyone who rates it as their absolute all-time favourite screen adaptation of Narnia, but I don't think I've ever encountered anyone who strongly dislikes it, either! Giggle It'd be interesting to hear your thoughts on it here, if you do decide to watch it.

"Now you are a lioness," said Aslan. "And now all Narnia will be renewed."
(Prince Caspian)

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Posted : November 28, 2023 12:55 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

Actually I was happy that the BBC Narnia started nine years later with a production that looked somewhat live with real people as actors. I didn't dislike the 1979 animated version, but I wanted Narnia to look more real.  Then I didn't care if there were people in animal costumes, and I thought it was better and more realistic than having them drawn in.  Today I think it might be better to have Narnia look like old fashioned Disney films than today's high technology movies. But it certainly shouldn't look like part of it happened in 1979. The intention may have been to appeal to children of that time, but that time period was not in the book.  With animation it certainly was possible to recreate the 1940's so there really was no reason why they could not have done it.  Of course that is the only real issue I have with the 1979 film other than it was rather plain looking. Otherwise it was fine, although it probably could have used more detail to make it look more real.

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Posted : November 28, 2023 1:18 pm
Sir Cabbage
(@sir-cabbage)
NarniaWeb Regular

Thanks for the feedback! I am more encouraged to give it a go. Maybe I could ask for the DVD for Christmas. 😛

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Posted : November 29, 2023 10:48 am
Courtenay liked
Jasmine
(@jasmine_tarkheena)
NarniaWeb Guru

I've been watching the Peanuts cartoons, and the animation backgrounds is similar to the ones they've used in the animated LWW. Well, given that it was directed by Bill Melendez, you can almost see the resemblance.

"And this is the marvel of marvels, that he called me beloved."
(Emeth, The Last Battle)
https://escapetoreality.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/aslan-and-emeth2.jpg

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Topic starter Posted : February 21, 2024 3:04 pm
Narnian78
(@narnian78)
NarniaWeb Guru

@jasmine_tarkheena 

The animation of the Peanuts cartoons is similar to the 1979 animated production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I don’t think it works as well for a C. S. Lewis book. It doesn’t look old fashioned enough for me, which is why I liked the BBC Narnia with real actors better. But that of course is my taste.  I think animals played by people in costumes does work better than having them drawn in by an artist, although a different artist might have made them look more realistic. If an animated Narnia is ever made again it might be made more realistic with the new technology, although I think the old fashioned methods would probably be better. It might look like something more old fashioned than the Peanuts cartoons, which are too much like the 1960’s, when they were made.  Something like medieval times would be much more appropriate for Narnia. 🙂

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Posted : February 21, 2024 9:47 pm
Courtenay and coracle liked
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