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on 17 January 2004
I have loved this movie ever since I first saw it (I was 4 at the time). In fact, my first memory is of sitting right in front of the television on a Sunday afternoon glued to the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and my personal favourite (probably because I could identify with her) Lucy. I found it so captivating that until I was 12 I checked the back of every wardrobe and closet I had to see if I could get into Narnia! I recently bought the film on dvd after moving to England from Canada and having no success finding it on video over there. I was ecstatic to find it as I remembered it being such a wonderful film. As soon as I got home I shut myself away and sat myself in front of the tv, a childish grin on my face as I heard the familiar music and guess what!?! After 15 years it has lost none of its charm. Even after dissecting the theological aspects of it in my religious education class, I was fully engrossed in the story. I definitely recommend this to anyone who has even an ounce of imagination, young or old as even though I am now a university student, I still read every one of the books in the series faithfully at least once a year. I cannot say enough what a wonderful movie it is. Despite frightfully see-through special effects the story is pulled together by a wonderful plot, excellent casting (though Edmund is a bit obvious at his script reading) and one major element that makes it so wonderful: everyone can identify to one of the children, whether they are a shy girl, or an adventurous one, a valiant boy or sideliner. Either way, unless you were born without any imagination, I recommend this to all of you.
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In the December, C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" will follow in the footsteps of Lewis' pal Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings Trilogy," with a gleaming new big-screen adaptation. In the months before it's released, however, it might be time to dust off the 1988 BBC adaptation of Lewis's first book, which is divided between the good and bad.

The four Pevensie children arrive in the country, at the start of World War II. Despite the eccentric but friendly professor (Michael Aldridge) who lives there, they're all bored. And during a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy (Sophie Wilcox) slips into an old wardrobe -- and finds that the back of it opens into a magical, snowy forest land called Narnia. She encounters a friendly faun, but when she arrives back home, she finds that none of her siblings believe her.

But soon Lucy and her siblings find their way through -- not knowing that peevish Edmund (Jonathan R. Scott) has already allied himself to the evil White Witch (Barbara Kellerman) who keeps Narnia locked in winter. She's especially desperate, because Narnia is beginning to thaw out, now that leonine Aslan is coming back to it, and the Pevensie kids have shown up to fulfil an old prophecy. But the Witch won't go down without a massive battle -- and one that might destroy the lion-messiah himself.

"The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" is a mixed bag -- it has more or less equal measures of good and bad. What it also has is deep fidelity to Lewis's original book, which was one of the first major fantasies to get widespread attention. And that's definitely an important detail, since the spirit of the book could easily have been lost.

The filmmakers obviously did their homework, crafting the script and dialogue to be close to Lewis's novel. And it's a credit that they pulled off some lines that could have sounded idiotic ("You're not dead, Aslan!" "Do I look dead?") in the wrong hands. They also did an excellent job of changing atmosphere, shifting from the stodgy English country house to the airy frozen Narnia, with its castles and dewy wildlands.

Unfortunately, the special effects haven't aged well. They were state of the art at the time, but now they look quite cheesy and low budget, with a few exceptions -- the scene where Lucy restores various "statued" people to life is pretty good. The other stuff ranged from primitive bluescreen to an enormous puppet playing Aslan. It's a good puppet, and remarkably convincing physically, but it still makes Aslan look like he has a wicked case of arthritis.

The acting is also divided between good and bad. Scott is particularly good as the "bad boy" Edmund, who ends up falling in with the Witch, especially when he turns on his evil mentor. He is accompanied by some good acting from Sophie Cook as Susan, and Richatd Dempsey as Peter, who also has to do a convincing battle with a werewolf. The weak links are Wilcox, who speaks most of her lines in a whine, and Kellerman, who laughs madly, coos and shrieks, and generally hams it up like a lunatic.

The new version of "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" has yet to be judged against Lewis' original novel, but the 1988 BBC version is a solid if flawed adaptation. Worth checking out.
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on 25 September 2003
I am so glad that the BBC has released this little treasure on DVD. I used to sit down on a Sunday tea-time and avidly watch this with my family.
All I remeber (I was very small at the time) was how wonderful it all was that some children could find a new world out the back of an old warderobe.
This DVD is an absolute must for all collections and I think it appeals to all, good clean family viewing which will be watched over and over again whether you are 5 or 105.
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on 30 November 2003
I have waited ages to get this on DVD. I have 2 children (11) and (8) years old. I loved Narnia as a child and wanted to share this with my children. The Magic is still there in this beautiful dramatisation by the BBC.
I would recommend this to any family,and it has got my youngest wanting to read even more. Absolutely Magical!
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on 17 November 2011
I remember watching this fantastic BBC series as a kid and although it lacks the glitz of the Hollywood version, it is still a great rendition of the story, with some good visual effects for the time and some great acting from the actress who plays the white witch. this is one that my kids watch time and time again, even though it has a very long running time as it was a series rather than a film.
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on 21 March 2005
The Lion,the witch and the wardrobe is a wonderful film about four children who discover the land of narnia where there are talking animals when they walk through a wardrobe.I originally saw it when i was about 7 and ive loved it ever since i still watch it and read the books even though im nearly 18 now. The story just captures you from beginning to end.I would recommend it to anyone with imagination and loves fantasy stories. There is one thing thats not so good about is how the magical animals e.g unicorn have been done they've been drawn in instead but other then that its a brillant film.
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I fell in love with Narnia when I first discovered it in third grade. I was in junior high when our local PBS station starting airing the BBC production of the novels. Naturally, they started with the first, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was three hours long, and I was enthralled. I watched it several times twenty plus years ago but hadn’t watched it since until this last weekend. I’m sorry to find that time has not been kind to it.

As with the book, it is the story of four children – Peter (Richard Dempsey), Susan (Sophie Cook), Edmund (Jonathan R. Scott), and Lucy (Sophie Wilcox). They are sent out of London during the German bombings at the start of World War II and find themselves in an estate deep in the countryside. In a spare room, Lucy finds an old wardrobe with the ability to transport you to another world. At first her siblings don’t believe her, but soon they are all drawn into this world of danger where a White Witch (Barbara Kellerman) has made it always winter but never Christmas. Are they the key to overthrowing her reign?

Even though I’m sure it’s been twenty years since I watch, I’m surprised at just how quickly parts of this version of the story came back to me. It was originally shown in three, one hour segments here in the states, and I could tell you where those breaks were as we got closer to them. I guess they were originally broken into six half hour parts because that’s how we got it on this DVD.

What surprised me was just how slow it felt. They take plenty of time to show us all the character’s reactions to some things, and there are ridiculous set ups and scenes that don’t really advance anything. For example, we get a scene of the kids walking to the mansion the first time. Not a word is spoken, and it really adds nothing to the story at all.

On the other hand, they are very faithful to the book. Much of the dialogue comes directly from the original novel. This has always been my favorite in the series, and I got pulled into the story all over again despite the faults of this production of it. I want to see my favorite scenes unfold again no matter how poorly they turn out here.

Which is a good thing because there are some serious flaws. The acting is adequate at best. Most of the kids do okay, although they all could be better. The White Witch is so over the top, however, that she really detracts from any scene she is in. Yes, some of her stuff should be over the top, but it is way too much here.

Likewise, the production leaves much to be desired. The animals are all humans in costume. It works, and I can’t really fault them for it. However, they have the wolves (the Witch’s secret police) transform into real wolves for any scene where they are running, a choice that is laughable. Also laughable are the scenes that include some of the more fanciful creatures, all of whom are animated. It’s not worked into the rest of the scene very well and looks pretty fake. The exception to this is Aslan, the lion. He is a full sized robotic animatronic character, and he is very well done.

And yet, as I said, I couldn’t stop watching. My love for the story carried me beyond the flaws of the production. Still, my first choice for this story will always be the far superior recent theatrical version which captures the story perfectly with much better effects and acting.

So if you can find this version cheap, it is worth getting this version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. However, be prepared for very low budget and dated effects and over the top acting.
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on 8 September 2014
If you where bought up in the 80s...it will transport you back into your youth and it will warm even the coldest hearts...a must watch when it's cold and rainy outside
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on 25 October 2013
I remember seeing this as a kid and loving it. Having just watched it again recently, I have to say, I still love it. It has a great atmosphere that none of the remakes have managed to re-capture. Buy it!
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on 22 March 2005
I bought this for my 10 year old daughter who got The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe book for Christmas. We have watched it together and I was taken straight back to being a child and watching with my mum on a Sunday afternoon. Sheer bliss!
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