69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2006
Watching these wonderful series again just takes me back to Sunday afternoons in my childhood!
Even now, surrounded by the CGI world of movies where stunning effects are everything, I was still impressed and delighted watching this set of the BBC series again. As the new movie shows, the mythical creatures are created by CGI to look as real and 3D as possible. In the BBC version they have combined cartoon animation for the creatures, mixed in with the actors. BUT, this all adds to the beauty of it and still works very well and is pleasant on the eye.
The children actors for the most part are very good, the costumes are excellent and the thing I was still in awe of was Aslan! I'd forgotten what an amazing piece of design he was!! In "The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe", the White Witch is just so evil, a baddie in the time when baddies really DID look evil and had the right cackle! Yes, some of the scenes are simplistic and occasionally wooden in the acting stakes, but it all adds to the nostalgia and magic somehow.
This DVD box set is a beautiful set, with clear menus to navigate. The Special Features disc is a great bonus; it was nice to see the actors together again in the 2003 Interview, and hear what they'd been up to. There are also behind-the-scenes featurettes from various TV progs from the time etc.
The transfer to DVD has been excellent. This is a set all the family can enjoy again and again. BRILLIANT!!
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
All the cast are excellent in this BBC children's TV production which is only marred by the very naff cartoon special effects at the end of the first DVD 'The Lion, the witch & the wardrobe', where the white witch's ghosties and ghoulies are awful bright cartoon overlays on the live action that make no effort to blend in. My son (9) commentated 'they look rubbish'. However in all the BBC Narnia serialisations the makeup for the Narnian animals is excellent and the sets are imaginative, very well made and varied. Perhaps they compare rather unfavourably to the new Disney versions, particularly in terms of special effects, but the BBC often scores with the shear quality of it's adaptations in terms of casting, script and screenplay (Narnia fans will probably love both anyway). My son actually cried when the BBC's Aslan took a turn for the worse in `The lion, the Witch & the wardrobe'. Otherwise though the new Disney films are a visual delight with special effects and budget a 1980s BBC could only dream off. Plus the BBCs Prince Caspian book adaptation [DVD2] is relegated to a few rather skimpy episodes - Disney beefed up the original book with many new ideas that work really well on-screen, e.g. the epic attempt to capture Miraz's castle. Disney's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader came out in 2010, 21 years after this BBC TV version.
This Narnia Chronicles DVD set is great value as it has all three seasons of BBC Narnia: 'The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe' (season 1), 'Prince Caspian' & 'The Voyage of the Dawn-Treader' (season 2) and 'The Silver Chair' (season 3). Plus there's the extra's DVD with interviews with the cast & Blue Peter clips, etc. that's of most interest to adults who remember the original screenings. The DVDs are 4:3 TV, with English mono audio only, and English SDH subtitles, run time 505 minutes. This 4 DVD set is generally better value than buying the seasons separately, and the only way of getting the `extras' DVD. The special effects in the BBC Narnia Chronicles serials get better with each series (Lion Witch Wardrobe being the first). Picture quality likewise improves a little with subsequent serialisations. The varied cast are also totally convincing throughout (although Aslan can get into trouble attempting lip-sync). For good reviews of each BBC book adaptation, I'd read the individual BBC season Narnia DVD listings, i.e.The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe,Prince Caspian and The Voyage of The Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair.
Children's acting always seems to be top notch in these BBC adaptations, and they make many of the current US sitcoms that dominate the Sky children's channels seem rather predictable, unimaginative and formulated in comparison - although the BBC can still hit the spot for kids with recent hits like 'Young Dracula', 'MIHigh' and 'Doctor Who'. In all, this BBC DVD set has a whopping nine hours quality TV, as its six half hour episodes per season. I particularly enjoyed the final season's 'The silver Chair' having missed it originally, and loved Tom Baker as the miserable Marsh Wiggle [Puddleglum]. Note though that this Region 2 DVD set has all the episodes shown in their entirety as Aunty intended, each with the great intro, music and credits, unlike on the US region one DVDs where each seasons six serials were edited and cut into one or two 'feature films' (rather badly affecting pace). Serialisation allows proper use of the scripted 'cliff-hanger' and means your children can watch one or two episodes before bedtime.
My only complaint really is that the BBC didn't serialise the other Narnia books: 'The Magicians Nephew', 'The horse and his boy' and 'The Last Battle'. In many ways though the BBC's 'The box of delights', 'Five children and it', 'The Phoenix and the Carpet', The Shoebox Zoo and 'The Borrowers series 1 & 2' DVD sets compliment the Chronicles of Narnia, so try them as well. I'm sure any preteen child would love them all.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2007
This is an excellent set with all episodes in very good condition. The special features are also a good addition. I watched this series when it first came out on tv as a child so I have good memories of it. People considering purchasing this having never seen this series before, but having seen the Narnia film, may find the effects disappointing. It was the late 1980s, however, and brings back a lot of memories. It is a most faithful adaptation of the 4 books by Lewis.
76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2005
Am so excited to find that this box-set has been released. It brings back some wonderful childhood memories.
Whilst the special effects are almost pre-historic by todays standards, these are by far the best adaptations of C.S.Lewis' wonderful books.
The stories are steeped in mythology and christian theory and they are also funny and absorbing taking one back to the 80s when these came out on CBBC.
In 'The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe', Siblings Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are evacuated to a large house in the country, where on a rainy day they discover a wardrobe which will transport them to the magical land of Narnia. Narnia however is in trouble, the land is under the icy grip of the White Witch who turns her enemies to stone and makes it 'Always winter and never Christmas'. With Edmund enslaved by the witch it is up to Peter Susan and Lucy to save their brother and release the land of Narnia from its spell.
In Prince Caspian, the four children are wisked away from the railway station where they are waiting for the school train, by the blowing of the magical horn which one belonged to Susan but is now owned by the young Prince Caspian. Back in Narnia the children discover that hundreds of years have gone by since their last visit and the throne of Narnia is once more under threat from the Price Caspian's uncle who plans to kill Caspian so that his baby son will one day assume the throne. The children must travel to Caspian's aid to defeat the king and bring the talking beasts out of excile.
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, whilst staying with their Cousin Eucstace, Lucy, Edmund, and the repelant Eucstace are drawn through a painting to the land of Narnia where an older Caspian is sailing to the end of the world in search of his father's freinds who went into excile after his murdur. Stars of this tale are Edmund who learns to believe in Narnia and Alsan, and Reepicheep the heroic talking mouse so obviously played by a person in a mouse suit.
The Silver Chair, follows Eucstace and Jill as they attempt to escape from their horrible school and the equally horrible bullies. They are carried to Narnia where they discover that Caspain has died and his only son is missing, believed dead. Charged by Alsan to find the young prince they travel to the wildlands of the North where helped by Puddleglum the Marshwiggle they contend with Giants, Underworlders and a Witch as formiddable as the White Witch herself.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2006
This DVD box set contains the BBC adaptations of four of the seven books from the Chronicles of Narnia by C S Lewis. The first adaptation is based on the first, and best-known book of the series, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The story centres around four children who stumble into the magical world of Narnia through the back of a wardrobe. The first to discover this world is the youngest of the four children, Lucy followed by the youngest brother, Edmund. Lost and alone, he meets The White Witch. After the two return to our world, it is not long before all four brothers and sisters find Narnia and their adventure begins. From then on, they meet talking beavers, fauns, dwarfs and eventually, Aslan the lion. After the battle for Narnia their journey ends but it is not the last adventure for the four children. The adaptation with relation to the book is virtually word for word but the performances by the actors, especially the Queen of Narnia played by Barbara Kellerman, adds to the magic of the story. Each actor takes every line and makes them their own.
The second disc sees adaptations from two of the C S Lewis novels, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Both set several Centuries after The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the former is set in a time when a human, King Miraz, rules Narnia. The talking animals of Narnia have gone into hiding for fear of their lives so the tale focuses on Prince Caspian and the four children, who return to Narnia, helping Caspian take his rightful place as King. After being sent back to our world, the four children are separated and the second story, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader begins. It sees the two youngest of the children visiting their obnoxious cousin Eustace when suddenly all three are again sucked into Narnia by magic. Set ten years since Caspian took the throne and at time when Narnia is at peace with its neighbouring countries, the King decides to take a voyage with his most loyal subjects. Their task is to find seven Lords of Narnia who went missing on a voyage of their own. Much of the story centres around Eustace and his transition from nuisance to brave soul. The make-up in the production is amazing, more specifically that of the mouse Reepicheep, which will have children watching in wonder.
The final adaptation, The Silver Chair, reunites us with Eustace and introduces one of his friends Jill. It has been a lifetime since Eustace was last in Narnia and King Caspian is old. Aslan brings the two children to Narnia to go on a quest to find Caspian's missing son and heir to the throne. On their quest, the children meet more talking animals such as owls and strange creatures called marshwiggles, one of whom ends up joining them on their journey. As their journey continues and they travel outside Narnia, they encounter giants, dragons and an evil Queen.
The programme truly brings the magical world of Narnia to life and this is only helped by the costumes and makeup. The beauty is only amplified by the sets and locations which all add to the experience of a magical world. It has dated - as you would expect - the visual effects for example, state of the art at the time, will continue to entertain and scare children, but they are far from the expectations of today's cinema-going audience. I am sure, however, that children will adore all aspects of these adaptations mostly due to CS Lewis's timelessly enchanting tales.
One down side of the DVD's is that there is no feature length version of the stories. The VHS versions were edited so each story was feature length, without the credits or introductions. The DVD however, has each episode shown as it was originally aired. Television aficionados may appreciate this feature but it does get tiresomely repetitive.
The Special Features include a cast reunion with the four Pensive children in which they reminisce, share experiences and discus what they are doing now and a discussion with two of the cast members taken from a 1988 interview. There are also three Blue Peter clips, the first focusing on the creation and bringing to life of Aslan, and the others relating to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair. Each is informative and fun in its own way and one of the most interesting facts taken from these clips is that more than ten million people watched The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. The set design features have little to offer but the quiz and trivia pages are a lot of fun. Each disk has a photo gallery from its adaptation and several standard biographies.
The Special Features in this collection have a good range of content although audiences are so used to a larger array of features some may feel they are missing out. It would be interesting to see more about the creation of costumes, shooting of the features and post-production but it is unlikely that this type of footage is available. In final analysis there is ample substance to inform and entertain viewers. `These fantastic tales have been magnificently bought to life and will be watched over and over by children and their parents. This Collector's Edition is elegantly presented and will make a brilliant addition to any DVD collection.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I have quite a collection of CS Lewis material - his scholarly texts, religious books, children's books, books about Lewis (and the Inklings,), CDs of all the unabridged Narnia books and DVDs of the Narnia series, all the old ones and the newer CGI versions.
Despite the fact that the Narnia and Middle Earth books seemed to have been waiting for the invention of CGI to bring them to life in glorious colour, this older version of Narnia, broadcast first on television, has a charm all of its own.
The quality of the sets, costumes and animals needs some imaginative leaps, not as much as the books themselves but a leap just the same.
Give them a try.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2009
It's difficult to not compare this with the recent films. The films have the budget, cast, effects, huge set-pieces and, I thought, they were great.
What this old series has is charm and drama suitable for younger children. The episodic approach also gives those great cliff-hanging moments which used to drive me mad with anticipation as a kid. Some of the acting is wooden, some of the costumes laughable (today) and some of the set pieces lacking by comparison... but none of it seems to matter either to me or my 5 year old children.
With the box set you get Lion, Witch and Wardrobe, Prince Caspian/Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the Silver Chair plus a bonus disk (as yet untouched) so it's pretty good value as well.
There's certainly still room for this type of series even with high-budget blockbuster versions available
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 3 January 2011
After so many years, I'm seeing the Chronicles of Narnia" again, finally. Last time I saw it (I'm not talking about the remake in cinema, but the good'ol BBC-series), was almost 25 years ago. Now I bought the DVD-Set, and this is the first time I'm watching it in its original language. Apart from the fact that, as an (now-)admirer of the English language, I feel almost enchanted by hearing it, but moreover so by seeing it, again.
Of course, it is not up-to-date-standard. But who cares, cause I don't. ;-)
Yep, ol'fashioned stuff, but even though, the puppets are quite fantastic. No computer-graphics at all, I'm afraid, but good story-telling. Which is a rare gift, if you ask my meaning. Good acting aswell!
Every single little pence, uuups, Euro I spent on this, is well spent! That's what I think.
And since so many children nowadays do learn English already in the Kindergarden over here, I think, I will watch it again with young friends of mine. I'm sure they are going to like it aswell. Besides they will have the chance to listen to a pronounciation of English, which I like so very much.
T'anks very much!
BTW: When I was at the same age, when I saw this on German-TV, there was a programm on, also from the BBC, about children in the Sherwood Forest. Haven't got a clue, what it was called, but I'd luv to see it again. (It had a taste of the Narnia-stories) Just for ol'times sake. ;-) Can anyone give me a hint? It would be dearly appreciated.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This is a great deal. You get the basics of most of the Chronicles, well acted and not excessively digital-synthetic, faithful to the books and without silly Hollywood melodrama. It is really very good, if crude in certain ways.
The best thing about this production is its modesty. While the characters are as well drawn as in the original novels, the entire story unfolds without ostentation. Really a lovely balance.
My kids have watched this version for years. After having seen the dazzling Disney versions, they are now more critical of the cheaper effects in the BBC version. Nonetheless, they still watch this, discussing its accuracy vis-a-vis the novel, and get enveloped in the story, as do I. That is a sincere and real success.
Warmly recommended. It transmits the magic.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
The Chronicles of Narnia are apparently the new big fantasy movie series, with the second film "Prince Caspian" coming out this spring.
But it isn't the first time that C.S. Lewis' classic fantasies have been adapted -- in the 1980s, the BBC made their own adaptation of the first four adventures of the Pevensies and their relatives. Some of the actors and special effects are frankly lacking, but mostly they are just solid storytelling.
"The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe" introduces us to the Pevensie kids, four teenagers who are staying in the country during World War II. But during a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy (Sophie Wilcox) hides in a wardrobe -- and finds that the back opens into a snowy forest land, populated by mythic creatures. It's the land of Narnia, where the Pevensies are destined to become kings and queens -- if they can destroy the evil White Witch (Barbara Kellerman), with the return of lion messiah Aslan (Ronald Pickup).
"Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader" takes us forward a few years -- and centuries in Narnia. Warlike humans have invaded Narnia and driven the talking animals, centaurs, dryads and others into hiding. But young Prince Caspian (Jean Marc Perret) believes in them, and joins them to defeat his usurping uncle Miraz. And the Pevensies are called from their world to help.
No sooner have Edmund (Jonathan R. Scott) and Lucy finished one adventure than other begins: while arguing with obnoxious cousin Eustace (David Thwaites), they are sucked into a painting and land beside the Narnian ship Dawn Treader. It also happens to be Caspian's ship. The three kids accompany the young king through a sea of horrors, dragons, gold springs, slavers and magicians, right to the edge of the world...
The newly reformed Eustance takes center stage in "The Silver Chair." At his chaotic school, he confides to a bullied classmate, Jill Pole (Camilla Power), about Narnia -- and the two of them find themselves whisked there by Aslan. Aslan gives them a quest: Find the aged Caspian's missing son Rilian (Richard Henders), who was seduced away by a malevolent witch. Eustace and Jill reluctantly go, and soon find themselves enmeshed in a plan to conquer all of Narnia.
The BBC has been known to make adaptations of countless books, so it's not surprising that they tried to tackle the Chronicles of Narnia. The result is a mixed bag, with some bad acting and sketchy CGI, but still a satisfying fantasy series with some truly creepy, uplifting or just interesting.
Expect a very faithful adaptation -- the BBC preserved virtually every character, most of the scenes, and all the Christian allegory of Lewis' books. As a result, there are some truly chilling and magical scenes, like Eustace's transformations and the owl conference. The settings are magnificent, especially the giant "Dawn Treader" and Caer Paravel.
Unfortunately, it does have its bad points, mostly in the tedium that is "Prince Caspian." Some of the special effects are quite dated, including some early blue-screen effects that are almost convincing, but not quite. Costumes are very very Dungeons and Dragons, especially Miraz and his army -- very Ye Olde Batmanne. And Aslan is played by a large and almost realistic puppet, except he looks like he has arthritis and large quantities of Botox.
The acting is a mixed bag -- Scott and Thwaites give the best performances, especially since they both play obnoxious little pains who have to learn the error of their ways. And there are loads of entertaining supporting characters, like Big Mick (I swear that's his name), both Caspians, Jeffrey Perry, and Warwick Davis (in owl and mouse costumes). The only sour notes are Wilcox and Kellerman; one whines, one cackles and screeches like a hammy banshee.
Those anticipating the return of Aslan and the Pevensies should check out the BBC adaptations -- while they have some big flaws, they are still entertaining enough to enjoy.