The BBC adaption 'made' into a Disney movie & very good
Keith Joseph | West Berkshire, England | 01/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the British BBC adaptation of The Phoenix and the carpet (from 1997). The book was written by Edith Nesbit in 1904. She wrote 44 books including 'The Railway children (1906)' and 'Five Children and It (1902)'. This adaptation has an all star cast: Miriam Margolyes, Jean Alexander, Christopher Biggins, and David Suchet (phoenix's voice). The story is the sequel to 'Five children and it' and does feature it's Psammead (sand fairy) in a guest role. This series was made well after BBCs '5 children' adaptation so the child actors had to replaced, although as usual for these BBC serials the top notch acting from the kids often upstages the adults. Naturally it's all a bit English Edwardian middle class, but this often works to the story's advantage as it means they can wonder about freely in a gang as children used to do in simpler times (with the probably misguided notion that the older ones are looking after their younger siblings).
Although an excellent adaptation and really enjoyed by my children (boy 9, girl 11), note that this is a 'Disney' offering and so the original 6 episodes at 28 minutes each have been heavily cut and made into a seamless 93 minute movie (still very good). The overall quality of this adaptation is excellent and the special effects are to a high standard for a TV production of the time (certainly more than adequate). Also it's not available as a complete BBC DVD yet so this is at least a lot better than nothing. Personally I would prefer the six episodes to be presented in their entirety with end credits as the episodes are scripted for the cliffhanger, and converting them into a single movie badly affects pace (as seen with the BBC Narnia series in the US). Naturally the BBC's 'Five children and it' DVD is a logical pre-view if you can find it, but it's not essential to the plot (but it is well worth seeing if you have preteen children about). This story is more about adventure and travel than the earlier slightly more moralistic book. There are still 'wishes' to be granted by the carpet though, and the onboard Phoenix adds the wise commentary, largely along the lines of "Actually it would be a really bad idea to do that, oops too late !". Other superb BBC DVD adaptations ideal for preteens are The Shoebox Zoo, The Narnia Chronicles, The Box of delights and The Borrowers (again if you can find them)."