The major difference between the 2005 film version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and the 1988 television series The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the special effects and that everything is that little bit more epic, and larger than life than it was in the BBC television version, which was much smaller in scale and a little bit more intimate, and was also one of my favourite TV series of my childhood.
The film opened with a scene set during the Blitz with the Pevensies being involved with an air-raid which was neither in the book, nor in the television series, but which set the scene nicely for what was to happen next in the story especially the behaviour of Edmund, which is quite important for the rest of the plot.
Poor Ed seems to be the one who is missing the presence of his father the most, as the rest of them don’t see seem to mention in that much, not that they aren’t missing him but are not showing it to the extent that Edmund is, and also how antagonistic his relationship with Peter but that is about the usual for older brothers and younger brothers more often than not.
The mother of the family is seen in this scene and the father appears to be away at the war and this version is the first time that we have actually seen the mother, she is mentioned a lot in TV series, but we have never seen her before, which is kind of nice as it has never been done before.
We then got the farewell scenes between mother and children and lots of other evacuees before we get into the story proper where they are unceremoniously dumped at a railway station which just appears to be a track and little else.
The rest of the film is exactly the same as the television series with the odd changes here and there. The television series was a closer adaptation of the book than the film was and there were a few more scenes done especially for the film such as the climatic battles scenes between Peter and his armies and the white witch a lot of which was not shown directly in the book, or in the television series.
I am not sure a BBC budget for a children’s serial could really have coped with such a scene even if it had of been in the book, but that wasn’t really a problem for the film with its multi-million dollar budget and it wouldn’t have been quite as impressive if they had only shown the end of the battle as in the TV series and the end result was a lot more exciting and thrilling than I found it in the television series as well.
The same can be said for the scenes on the frozen lake which were not in television series either, but were rather exciting and fast paced scenes and they didn’t seem out of place with the rest of the action so it was a decent addition to give an extra level of peril to the children and the beavers path to Aslan, whilst they were being chased by the White Witch.
As I said at the start of this review it as the special effects which were much better in this film than in the TV series with the wolves and the beavers actually looking like the real things rather than people dressed in suits but, as a child that didn’t really matter to me as I was able to use my imagination to get through the people dressed up as beavers who were clearly normal size into believing them to be real beavers which is one thing that you don’t have to do in this version of the story as the special effects do that for you.
There isn’t much difference I would say between the Aslan of the movie and the Aslan of the TV series in terms of how it looked because the TV series did a really good job of portraying the character and you could really believe that the TV Aslan was a proper lion when watching it, especially when you were young, as I was.
The Aslan is the movie is a very believable lion but you can do wonders with CGI, which they didn’t really have back in the late eighties so you had to do it with animatronics and puppets and dancers which, to be fair, worked a treat. For me the voice of Aslan is better in the TV series as I don’t associate Ronald Pickup’s voice work here with anything else, which I can’t say the same for when I hear Liam Neeson as Aslan in the movie as his voice does take me out of the fantasy world a little bit. I am not sure why, but it does.
In terms of the casting the children playing the main characters in the TV series were typical of the kind of kids that appeared in TV series in those days and were very well spoken and rather posh, whereas the children in the movie don’t appear to be as posh as their television counterparts were. They were still well spoken and polite, but not quite how they were in the TV series.
I would say that the children in the movie were more like the characters in the book to look at than the TV series actors were. For instance in the film the character of Lucy was more like her actual age in the book than she was in the TV version. She was meant to be 8 years old in the book and the girl who played her in the TV series was about 13, whilst the girl who plays her in the film is about 9 or 10, so the children are more the ages that they should have been in the film, which isn’t a major problem really just a comment on the casting of the TV series, which is not to say that the people playing the Pevensies in the TV series were bad because they weren’t. The girl playing Susan in the TV series is the same age as me so I can understand why I had a bit of a soft spot for her when I saw the show originally.
All in all I would say that both the TV version and the film version are both good in their own way but that neither is better than the other. Personally the TV series wins for me as I remember loving it as a child and, having watched it again recently, it was still just as enchanting as when I first saw it. I didn’t get that feeling watching the film version even though it looked about a million times better and more epic than the TV version did. The movie just lacked something that the TV series had in spades, and it is difficult to put your finger on what that something is. The movie is still worth watching though!