In later years, we had a taped-off-the-TV video of an animated adaptation, which now I think is... not very good. Back then, I viewed it as fair, but not "the real thing." My grandmother was the custodian of the (mostly) live-action mini-series, and to watch this was a rare treat. As far as I was concerned, this was the book come to life off the page.
The music of the opening titles is the closest thing I've found in the real world to magic, and it brings tears to my eyes. It evokes the reality of magic, and the knowledge that if I went into my wardrobe, maybe I would find my way into Narnia. Or, alternatively, I could stick pictures to the back of the wardrobe, imagine myself there, and it would be just as real, just as good. There was none of the wistfulness of knowing that the real world just isn't as exciting as the world of the imagination, because as far as my younger self was concerned, they were the same thing.
The BBC mini-series is very much a product of its time, with theatrical over-acting and a quaint combination of costumes and animation for special effects. We've got a dwarf with a broad Yorkshire accent, beavers who resemble lisping potatoes, and an Aslan who, if he opens his mouth wide enough, reveals a man inside a lion suit. And yet, all this fades away, leaving the storytelling to do the work. Watching it now, I was pleasantly surprised how well it stood the test of time in an age of 3D, CGI and Blu-ray, proving that above everything else, what is needed is a good story. The casting is wonderful - I love the hammy White Witch, plummy-voiced, blinky older brother Peter, the freckled and resentful Edmund, Susanish Susan and round, toothy Lucy.
|...and the Wardrobe|