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We finished reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week. Sebastian enjoyed it very much. So we started right in on The Silver Chair. That has been going very well, too.

The library has a DVD of the British TV series of The Chronicles of Narnia, or at least the first three discs (which cover Lion, Caspian, Voyage, and Chair). We watched the first disc, and was pretty silly. The special effects were awfully cheesy, but that was pretty much to be expected. The pacing was much slower than the movie, of course, and Teri was bored out of her mind; but that was to be expected too (Sebastian wasn't bored at all).

But what got to me was the terrible British overacting. When a British actor is good they're outstanding, but when they're bad they're terrible. And there were a lot of actors in The Lion who were just painfully bad. "Bellowing scene-chewers" seems the best way to describe them. The Witch, in particular, was like a black hole of bad acting. She kept trying to shout her lines louder and louder, and it was simply awful.

When I was in [ profile] stairflight's production of Romeo and Juliet, some of the other actors urged me to shout more to show that I was angry. I refused. I knew damned well that you can often convey far more anger in a softer voice, and that constantly screaming your lines can be surprisingly ineffective.

Eventually the bad acting got to me. I cracked and started MSTing (that is, commenting on the action MST3K-style). When the Witch's face was on the scream, I dubbed for her "I need some more TOILET PAPER!!!" with the requisite hamminess and eye-rolling. Sebastian completely cracked up, and made me say it again and again for the next two days.

Aslan was quite amusing too. For one thing, he was obviously stuffed. His mouth movements weren't synchronized with his words. So when he was on his way to the Stone Table to be sacrificed by the Witch, and Lucy asked him what was going to happen, I emoted "She's going to cut out my STUFFING!!!". More wild laughter from Sebastian. Ah, the fun. :D

The show of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is far less silly. The sea-serpent actually scared Sebastian a little (lots of spiky teeth). The effects were better, as was the acting. In The Lion talking animals were played (painfully) by people wearing costumes, and other creatures were portrayed with quite amateurish cartoon effects; in Voyage there was only one talking animal, Reepicheep, and although he was played by a (little person? Is that the correct term?), he was relatively well-played and not too irritating.

Date: 2009-08-10 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Man, I grew up on that version of Narnia. And for me that formed my first conceptions of the fantasy genre.

Granted now with the new movies, and my realization that the whole Narnia thing was basically xtian propaganda, those first movies have become more of a childhood memory, than something I can relive.

Date: 2009-08-10 07:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know that Tom Baker plays Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle in the next installment, so I'm looking forward to that. He was by far my favorite Doctor, and I loved his performance as the evil vizier in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. :D

Date: 2009-08-11 05:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Hmm. The comment about "British Overacting" made me recall a movie review on Siskel & Ebert's original show on PBS (Sneak Previews). The film was Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, about British prisoners of war in a Japanese camp. And one of them disliked the contrast of the reserved British style of acting verses the more over the top (something like that) Japanese acting.

Also reminded, in reference to shouting, of that episode of Blackadder the Third where actors advised George that before a speech he needed to roar (

I wonder to what extent the bad acting in the TV Narnia was because of direction; perhaps a notion that the material was targeted at kids and thus the delivery must be as unsubtle as possible.

Date: 2009-08-11 12:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mossup and Keanrick! I was going to mention them in the post, but forgot. Thanks! That clip is going straight into my YouTube favorites. :D

I wondered if the director was to blame, too. But god, either was it was just terrible, terrible acting. It made Tilda Swinton look like Laurence Olivier! :D

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