Get out of the chair
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 01/28/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Years before Walden Media debuted their big-budget version of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," the BBC created their own Narnia Chronicles. Despite some goofy prosthetics and a shoestring budget, this is easily the best of the three movies, with excellent acting, pacing, and even some decent special effects.
The story opens at a trendy school that Eustace Scrubb attends. But a garden shed doorway leads Eustace and his bullied schoolmate Jill to Aslan's country. But after Eustace is almost killed because of Jill, the god-lion Aslan gives girl an assignment and four signs to follow. King Caspian is now an old, dying man with no heir to follow him, because his son was lured away by a strange serpentine temptress long ago.
Jill and Eustace team up with a gloomy Marshwiggle, Puddleglum, who serves as their guide as they go to north Narnia. Along the way they must deal with carnivorous giants, enormous bridges and bad weather. But the enigmatic signs that Aslan gave Jill are hard to follow -- and they soon find that the missing Prince is ensnared in a web of madness and magic.
Don't expect this to be a mere copy of the past two movies -- the Pevensies are nowhere to be seen, and old faves like Caspian, Aslan and Trumpkin only have cameos. Sure, they ride owls and hang out with giants. But this is a grimmer, darker story, with a cataclysmic finale and a tight, sometimes harrowing storyline.
The past two Narnia movies suffered from hokey special effects and some spotty acting. "The Silver Chair" cleans all that up, trimming the special effects edges and focusing on the more majestic sets, costumes and scripting. And for the most part, it's quite a success. Even the flashbacks to the queen's death and Rilian's disappearance are heartrending and quietly effective.
There are a few flaws -- for a paradise, Aslan's country looks pretty scrubby and brown. And the final battle with the Emerald Witch is downright silly, with a giant snake puppet twisting around on the floor. But the special effects are infinitely improved in this one, ranging from convincing giants to some genuinely harrowing moments on a giant bridge.
Lewis had become a bit less hamhanded with the allegory and Christian symbolism by this time. Instead, he gives jabs at anything-goes attitudes and nihilism. Additionally, he creates one of the most intense and outstanding scenes of the entire Chronicles, with the Witch playing elaborate brain games with Rilian and the kids, slowly convincing them that all they know and believe is a lie -- including the sun and the world above ground.
Thwaites and Power both give excellent, understated performances as two kids who bicker constantly, but really care about each other, and Tom Baker (of "Dr Who" fame) is glorious as the perpetually pessimistic Marshwiggle. Barbara Kellerman, alas, is still hamming it up, with lots of over-the-top laughter, screeching, cooing and snarling.
Despite Kellerman and some primitive CGI, "The Silver Chair" is probably the best of the three BBC Narnia movies, with its darker storyline and excellent lead acting."
A great movie
Kurt A. Johnson | North-Central Illinois, USA | 08/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Back at school, Eustace finds that he no longer fits in with the people he once considered friends. When he helps Jill Pole escape from the bullies, they find a doorway that takes them to Aslan. Aslan has a special job for Jill, she must rescue Prince Rilian, the long-lost son of the venerable King Caspian. With the help of Puddleglum (played by Tom Baker, the 4th Doctor Who!), the two children set off on an adventure. [Color, originally aired in 1990, with a running time of 2 hours.]This movie (actually two television episodes) is based on the fourth book of C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia, and (unfortunately) is the last in the series made by the B.B.C. The production is excellent, with the special effects being even better than those of the earlier shows. The story is grittier, reflecting a darker, harsher story than the previous ones. As such, my children did not quite like it as much as those earlier ones.However, it still was a great movie, and I enjoyed sharing the Christian symbolism that I saw throughout the movie. We all really liked this movie, and highly recommend it."
The Underdark of Narnia
J. Lyon Layden | Savannah, Georgia | 04/16/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"By the time this book takes place, Eustace has almost shirked his old snotty self and become, like Edmund, a valiant young man. Introduced is Jill, the newest Daughter of Eve to be catapulted into Narnia, landing in Aslan's world with her own baggage and set of peculiar hang-ups and problems. Let the transformations begin!
This is probably the darkest and gloomiest of the Narnian Chronicles, most of it taking place in an subteranean world of gnomes and lightless creatures. The visit to the land of the giants is also a somewhat scary span of chapters, with betrayal and helplessness being central themes. But of course good old Aslan has a path for the children to follow and a valuable lesson for them to learn, though the two adventurers find it almost impossible to carry it out as they were instructed too. A trmendously well thought out fantasy story which imparts much understanding about religion and about how God works his magic in our world. Faith and redemption are also central themes as the children are tested by the decision to trust the cursed knight, and the knight is freed from a witch's treacherous spell.
J. Lyon Layden
The Other Side of Yore"
The Silver Chair
Count Orlok '22 | The land of the denigrated reviewers | 10/07/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"-This review pertains to the original DVD release, not the remastered edition-
In 1990, the final film in the BBC's Narnia series made its debut. The series, which consisted of four films, was based on The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis and remained very faithful to the source material. However, after having produced the first three films, the budget seems to have shrunk for this, the final installment. And for the first time it hurts the overall quality of the film. The Silver Chair is probably the weakest of the film series mainly because of the shortcuts that the filmmakers were forced to take to accommodate the low budget. Actors who appeared in previous episodes are recast in new roles, special effects are hurried and unconvincing, and the production design seems uninspired. All of this is unfortunate as this film had perhaps the greatest potential as a darker adventure, but overall numerous minor disappointments make this film less satisfying. Still, The Silver Chair is the must-have conclusion to the series and despite its flaws has become a family favorite.
While at their unpleasant boarding school, Eustace and his schoolmate Jill frantically search for a place to hide from school bullies. After asking Aslan for help, Eustace and Jill are magically transported to Narnia, where Aslan has an important mission for them. They are to find and rescue Prince Rilian, King Caspian's son and only heir to the throne of Narnia. Furthermore Aslan also appoints Jill the task of remembering four cryptic signs that will help them on their quest. They are given aid by a talking owl named Glimfeather, who takes them to the Parliament of Owls. There, Eustace and Jill are told of how Rilian's mother was killed by a poisonous serpent, and that Rilian later disappeared while visiting the site of his mother's death. The owls then take the two children to the swamplands where a marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum will serve them as a guide on their epic quest. Puddleglum turns out to be a curmudgeonly pessimist, but an invaluable companion. His knowledge of Narnia's history, geography, and culture and his abundance of survival skills prove to be an under-appreciated asset for Eustace and Jill. On their journeys they have many adventures such as an encounter with a dragon, an attack by savage giants, and they even cross a colossal ancient bridge that spans the distance between two mountains. Also they meet a beautiful traveler who calls herself the Lady of the Green Kirtle, and her escort, a black knight, who neither acknowledges them nor shows his face. The Lady of the Green Kirtle tells the children that they look awfully tired and should take respite at the castle of Harfang, the home of the gentle giants. After she and the knight depart, the children insist on going to Harfang against the advice of Puddleglum, who has a bad feeling about the lady and her motives. It turns out that he was right to. The giants of Harfang are jovial and hospitable, but something about their behavior is off-putting. To their horror, Eustace and Jill discover that the "gentle giants" intend to eat them as part of their autumn feast. Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum just barely manage to escape, but they do so by taking shelter in a cave, which collapses. After regaining consciousness, they find themselves deep underground in the darkness, in the gloom, in the terrible depths of the Earth. They are taken prisoner by a race of grotesque beings called Under-Earthmen, who are ruled over by a tyrannical queen. They also meet a strange masked man who reveals himself to be the black knight, and they learn from him that queen is none other than the Lady of the Green Kirtle. The knight explains how the queen has been preparing him to lead an army to the over-world, where they intend to defeat the natural leaders of all countries and declare themselves as overlords. The knight also tells them that he suffers a strange enchantment, which drives him mad at night, so he is restrained in a magical silver chair for his own protection. The knight asks Puddleglum and the two children to watch over him in his madness to ensure that he does not escape and he forces them to swear an oath that under no circumstances whatsoever are they to release him from his restraints. But when the time comes, the knight begs and pleads that they set him free. But do they dare defy the malevolent queen and what of the consequences to setting this lunatic free? And most importantly of all will they ever find Prince Rilian and return to their own world?
The Silver Chair features a cast of veteran British actors (most of which American audiences will be unfamiliar with). The cast includes David Thwaites as Eustace, Camilla Power as Jill, Geoffrey Russell as Aged King Caspian, Richard Henders as Prince Rilian, Big Mick as Trumpkin, Warwick Davis as Glimfeather, Tom Baker as Puddleglum, Barbara Kellerman as The Lady of the Green Kirtle / The Queen of the Underworld, and Ronald Pickup as the voice of Aslan. As far as the cast goes, most of the actors are clearly stage performers and unfamiliar with the medium of film, which leads to some pretty hammy, over-projected acting. However, in an odd way this actually suits the story.
Despite its obvious flaws, The Silver Chair is a worthy finale to the series.
The DVD also includes a still gallery and an animated trivia challenge. All three DVDs containing the four Narnia films can be found together in a moneysaving box set, which includes beautiful artwork on the packaging. Also available is a newly remastered box set.
The Chronicles of Narnia Pop-up: Based on the Books by C.S. Lewis by Robert Sabuda
C.S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia
Bridge to Terabithia (1985 PBS version)
A Wrinkle in Time
Jim Henson's the Storyteller: The Definitive Collection