BBC Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe- 2019 Review
Ok, can I add something else right quick??
Rant incoming, so prepare yourselves!
I just thought of this, and it is driving me crazy. During my last re-read of LWW, I noticed that when Edmund asked for another piece of Turkish delight to eat on the way back to England, this is the Witch's response.
(Laughs) No, no! You must wait until next time.
So pardon my extreme confusion when, for whatever reason, the BBC writers/directors interpreted that scene as follows:
Edmund: Please your majesty, may I have just one more piece of Turkish delight, to eat on my way home?
Witch (instantly loses all composure, eyes become wide, flails arms and makes the whole sledge rock back and forth): NOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooOOajlsk;lkjaslkjdf;ljkasldj!! (the horses do not bolt, perhaps because they're either a. deaf, or b. used to such histrionic displays of - ahem - lung capacity).
What the heck, BBC?
There's no way Lucy and Tumnus wouldn't have heard that all the way from his cave. It's not even how hammy and over-the-top Barbara Kellerman behaves in this exchange, but how you're left wondering where it even came from, or what words CS Lewis used to give them the impression that this is how she should respond to a child when she is trying to gain his trust (against his own/his siblings' self interest?). Alternatively, if it was - in fact - an intentional deviation from the source material (which I'm beginning to suspect it was), how on Earth is that an improvement on the way Lewis wrote the Witch, in which she doesn't come across as totally off her head?
Well.....it becomes a recurring trend, but the BBC Chronicles seem to have a villain problem. Their villains consistently appear to have one setting; shrieking. Obviously every villain in the series played by Barbara Kellerman (including the White Witch) possesses this trait, but even Nikabrik, Miraz, and Gumpas all possess this quality to some extent, even when (often) it's (really) not warranted by the source material.
The White Witch in the BBC series was exaggerated, although I think her cruelty and anger were portrayed correctly. The only issue is the overacting of her part. However, I think she was nastier and more evil than the witch in the movies. In that regard she is much like what Lewis had in mind when he created her. Miraz in the BBC series was also quite well done-- especially his acceptance of Peter's challenge (his vanity in disregarding the advice of the two men under him). And Gumpas was a good portrayal of a bureaucratic governor. The problem with the BBC Prince Caspian is that it was too short with only an hour in length. You can't have much character development in that short time. Voyage of the Dawn Treader was much better in characters and story adaptation. Eustace was very well portrayed before and after he was changed by Aslan.
You know it's funny Glenwit mentioned that about the exchange between Edmund and the White Witch because I think every adaptation (except for the Radio Theatre one maybe; I'd have to listen to that one again to check) has a variation on that joke where the Witch yells "no" in response to Edmund's question and then has to backtrack. (I don't believe the BBC serial started this tradition. I think it was the 1970s cartoon.) There's no textual basis in the book for this tradition and personally I don't care much for it. I'd describe the Witch as flustered and agitated when she first meets Edmund but by the time they bid farewell, I imagine her more in control of her emotions
For better or worse-for who knows what may unfold from a chrysalis?-hope was left behind.
-The God Beneath the Sea by Leon Garfield & Edward Blishen
@col-klink. Tilda Swinton portrayed the White Witch as being as rather cold and unemotional. I suppose that would have worked better if she were nastier and more angry. She turns butterflies and talking animals into stone as she does in the book, but she doesn't do much else to them in the movie. Her conduct isn’t nice, but it doesn’t seem mean enough for her. If she would whip the horses (or reindeer) drawing her sledge it would be better for her villain character. The polar bears in the movie draw the sleigh, but she doesn’t do anything else with them. She drives the dwarf (her assistant) as a slave in the BBC version, which does show her meanness. I think cruelty is usually better in accurately portraying villains (or worse if you are their victim) than unemotional detachment. In the death scene of Aslan in the movie she is more accurately portrayed and that is well done, but I think she could have been better (more sinister) in the rest of the film. A true villain should be as evil as possible.
You know it's funny Glenwit mentioned that about the exchange between Edmund and the White Witch because I think every adaptation (except for the Radio Theatre one maybe; I'd have to listen to that one again to check) has a variation on that joke where the Witch yells "no" in response to Edmund's question and then has to backtrack.
As I recall, the FotF radio version has her laughing in amusement as she tells him no, the way an adult might tell a child that they can't have a second bowl of ice cream. She certainly doesn't yell "No" then backpedal. I much prefer FotF's approach - it's a much more natural response, and she has the entire rest of the conversation to sound sinister.
I can't remember the animated version (I've only seen it once), but at least in the Walden version, that moment felt like she briefly forgot that she was supposed to be playing nice. The BBC... yeah, it kind of makes Edmund look really, really dumb for trusting her after that. Even if he doesn't believe she's evil, surely she at least seems unstable!
N-Web sis of stardf, _Rillian_, & jerenda
Proud to be Sirya the Madcap Siren
I was in my mid-twenties when the BBC LWW premiered, so I didn't watch it with the eyes of a child. I also believed (and still believe) that BBC Television had a very anti-Christian, pro-atheist ethic, and I felt quite strongly at the time that they had deliberately made the Narnia series so badly in order to mock the work and its author. I watched maybe one episode of PC and one of VDT and the only positive thought I had was "Nice armour". I didn't bother watching SC at all until I got the box set a few years ago, and then I found that SC was by far the best of the bunch, thanks in no small way to Tom Baker's superb Puddleglum. But I couldn't understand why they had cast a girl as Lucy who was bigger than the other three, and why the special effects looked like outtakes from Doctor Who circa 1972. As for the overacting from the adult performers, that was quite common in children's drama series at the time, and not just British ones - the adults were equally as hammy in "The Girl From Tomorrow", an Australian kids' sci-fi series made around the same time.
@king_erlian. The BBC series was not all that bad when you consider the limited resources available (especially the budget). The child actors were just being normal kids. The actress playing Lucy was a bit old for the role, but I don’t think that made much difference. She was bigger than the others, but the difference in physical size was not all that much. I kind of liked the old fashioned look of the series, although better special effects would have been nice. It’s the antique quality of medieval fairy tales which worked very well for Narnia. With a higher budget it would have been possible to have a two or three hour Prince Caspian, which would have been much better than the hour long version. I love the old classic Dr. Who, and I think Tom Baker was the best Puddleglum with his pessimistic wit and humor. Eustace and Jill were also close to the books’ characters. I think the BBC Narnia was mostly successful in portraying Narnia, although having more money and resources would have helped to make the series better. 🙂