Adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia

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The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children written by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages. Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954, illustrated by Pauline Baynes and published in London between October 1950 and March 1956, The Chronicles of Narnia has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for television, radio, the stage, film, in audio books, and as video games.

Television[edit]

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was first adapted for television in 1967. The ten episodes, each thirty minutes long, were directed by Helen Standage. The screenplay was written by Trevor Preston and unlike subsequent adaptations, it is currently unavailable to purchase for home viewing.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was adapted for television again in 1979, this time as an animated special co-produced by Bill Meléndez (known for A Charlie Brown Christmas and other Peanuts specials) and the Children's Television Workshop (known for programs such as Sesame Street and The Electric Company). The screenplay was by David D. Connell. It won the Emmy award for Outstanding Animated Program that year. It was the first feature-length animated film ever made for television. For its release on British television, many of the characters' voices were re-recorded by British actors and actresses (including Leo McKern, Arthur Lowe and Sheila Hancock), but Stephen Thorne was the voice of "Aslan" in both the U.S. and British versions, and the voices of Peter Pevensie, Susan Pevensie, and Lucy Pevensie also remain the same.

From 1988–1990, parts of The Chronicles of Narnia were turned into four successful BBC television serials, The Chronicles of Narnia, based on the first four of the seven books. All four were shown on the PBS show WonderWorks and they were nominated for a total of 14 awards, including an Emmy in the category of "Outstanding Children's Program". The four serials were later edited into three feature-length films (combining Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader into one) and released on VHS and DVD.

Radio[edit]

The critically acclaimed BBC Radio 4 dramatisation was produced between 1988 and 1997, starring Maurice Denham as Professor Kirke. Collectively titled Tales of Narnia it covers the entire series and is approximately 15 hours long. The series was released in Great Britain on both audio cassette and CD by BBC Audiobooks.

In 1981, Sir Michael Hordern read abridged versions of the classic tales set to music from Marisa Robles, playing the harp, and Christopher Hyde-Smith, playing the flute. They have also been re-released in 2005 (ISBN 978-0-00-721153-1). http://www.harpercollinschildrensbooks.co.uk/books/default.aspx?id=33175

Between 1999 and 2002 Focus on the Family produced radio dramatisations of all 7 books through its Radio Theatre program. The production included a cast of over a hundred actors (including Paul Scofield as "The Storyteller" and David Suchet as "Aslan"), an original orchestral score and cinema-quality digital sound design. The total running time is slightly over 22 hours. Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C. S. Lewis, hosts the series. From the Focus on the Family website:

Between the lamp post and Cair Paravel on the Western Sea lies Narnia, a mystical land where animals hold the power of speech ... woodland fauns conspire with men ... dark forces, bent on conquest, gather at the world's rim to wage war against the realm's rightful king ... and the Great Lion Aslan is the only hope. Into this enchanted world comes a group of unlikely travellers. These ordinary boys and girls, when faced with peril, learn extraordinary lessons in courage, self-sacrifice, friendship and honour.[1]

Stage[edit]

In 1984, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was presented at London's Westminster Theatre, produced by Vanessa Ford Productions. The play, adapted by Glyn Robbins, was directed by Richard Williams and designed by Marty Flood; and was revived at Westminster and The Royalty Theatre and on tour until 1997. Productions of other Narnian tales were also presented, including The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1986), The Magician's Nephew (1988) and The Horse and His Boy (1990). Robbins's adaptations of the Narnian chronicles are available for production in the UK through Samuel French London.

In 1998 the Royal Shakespeare Company premiered The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The novel was adapted for the stage by Adrian Mitchell, with music by Shaun Davey. The musical was originally directed by Adrian Noble and designed by Anthony Ward, with the revival directed by Lucy Pitman-Wallace. The production was well received and ran during the holiday season from 1998 to 2002, at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The production also subsequently transferred to play limited engagements in London at the Barbican Theatre, and at Sadler's Wells. The London Evening Standard wrote:

...Lucy Pitman-Wallace's beautiful recreation of Adrian Noble's production evokes all the awe and mystery of this mythically complex tale, while never being too snooty to stoop to bracingly comic touches like outrageously camp reindeer or a beaver with a housework addiction... In our science and technology-dominated age, faith is increasingly insignificant — yet in this otherwise gloriously resonant production, it is possible to understand its allure.

Adrian Mitchell's adaptation later premiered in the US with the Tony award-winning Minneapolis Children's Theatre Company in 2000, and had its west-coast premiere with Seattle Children's Theatre playing the Christmas slot in its 2002–03 season (and was revived for the 2003–04 season). This adaptation is licensed for performance in the UK by Samuel French.

Other notable stage productions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have included commercial productions by Malcolm C. Cooke Productions in Australia (directed by Nadia Tass, and described by Douglas Gresham as the best production of the novel he had seen – starring Amanda Muggleton, Dennis Olsen, Meaghan Davies and Yolande Brown) and by Trumpets Theatre, one of the largest commercial theatres in the Philippines.

A streamlined version of the full-scale musical Narnia (adapted by Jules Tasca, with music by Thomas Tierney and lyrics by Ted Drachman) has toured the US with TheatreworksUSA since 1993.[2] The full-scale and touring versions of the musical are licensed through Dramatic Publishing, which has also licensed adaptations of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by Joseph Robinette and The Magician's Nephew by Aurand Harris.

A licensed musical stage adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader made its world premiere in 1983 by Northwestern College (Minnesota) at the Totino Fine Arts Center. Script adaptation by Wayne Olson, with original music score by Kevin Norberg.

Theatrical productions of "The Chronicles of Narnia" have become popular with professional, community and youth theatres in recent years. A musical version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe written specifically for performance by youth is available through Josef Weinberger.[3]

Film[edit]

C. S. Lewis never sold the film rights to the Narnia series, being skeptical that any cinematic adaptation could render the more fantastical elements and characters of the story realistically.[4] Only after seeing a demo reel of CGI animals did Douglas Gresham (Lewis's stepson and literary executor, and the films' co-producer) give approval for a film adaptation.

The first film was an adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, entitled The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, produced by Walden Media and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, released in December 2005. It was directed by Andrew Adamson, with a screenplay by Ann Peacock. Principal photography for the film took place in Poland, the Czech Republic and New Zealand. Major Visual Effects Studios like Rhythm and Hues Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and many more worked on the VFX for the movie. The movie achieved critical and box-office success, reaching the Top 25 of all films released to that time (by revenue).

Disney and Walden Media then co-produced a sequel, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, released in May 2008 and grossed over $419 million worldwide. At the time of Caspian's release, Disney was already in pre-production on the next chapter, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. However, in December 2008 Disney pulled out of financing the Narnia series.[5][6]

20th Century Fox and Walden Media co-produced The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, released in December 2010,[7] and will most likely do so for following subsequent film adaptations.

A fourth film, "The Silver Chair", is currently in the works, with the Mark Gordon Company producing.[8]

Audio books[edit]

The Chronicles of Narnia are all available on audiobook, read by Andrew Sachs. These were published by Chivers Children's' Audio Books.

In 1979, Caedmon Records released abridged versions of all seven books on records and cassettes, read by Ian Richardson (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Silver Chair), Claire Bloom (Prince Caspian and The Magician's Nephew), Anthony Quayle (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and his Boy) and Michael York (The Last Battle).

HarperAudio published the series on audiobook, read by British and Irish actors Michael York (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe), Lynn Redgrave (Prince Caspian), Derek Jacobi (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader), Jeremy Northam (The Silver Chair), Alex Jennings (The Horse and his Boy), Kenneth Branagh (The Magician's Nephew) and Patrick Stewart (The Last Battle).

Collins Audio also released the series on audiobook read by Sir Michael Hordern with original music composed and performed by Marisa Robles, as well as releasing a version read by the actor Tom Baker.

From 1998 to 2003 Focus on the Family Radio Theatre recorded all seven Chronicles of Narnia on CD. Each book had three CDs apart from The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which both had two CDs. They were released in association with The C.S. Lewis Company, with an introduction by Douglas Gresham. They used a cast of over one hundred actors, an original orchestral score, and digital sound design. The stars of the cast were Paul Scofield as the storyteller, David Suchet as Aslan, Elizabeth Counsell as the White Witch and Richard Suchet as Caspian X.

Music[edit]

A musical retelling of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in a full-album song-cycle entitled The Roar of Love was released in 1980 by the contemporary Christian music group 2nd Chapter of Acts.[9]

Games[edit]

In 1984, Word Publishing released Adventures in Narnia, a game developed by Lifeware. The game was intended to encourage positive values like self-control and sacrifice. It incorporated physical elements such as cards and dice into the gameplay and was available on the Commodore 64.[10]

In November 2005, Buena Vista Games, a publishing label of Disney released videogame adaptations of the Walden Media/Walt Disney Pictures The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe film. Versions were developed for most videogame platforms available at the time including Microsoft Windows, Nintendo GameCube, Xbox, and PlayStation 2 (developed by the UK-based developer Traveller's Tales). A handheld version of the game was also developed by Griptonite Games for the Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance. A mobile game of the film was developed by the Finnish Housemarque for the J2ME/Brew.

By 2008, Buena Vista Games, released new videogame adaptations of the Walden Media/Walt Disney Pictures upcoming The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian film. Versions were developed for the most common at that time, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Wii and Microsoft Windows (developed by the UK-based developer Traveller's Tales). A handheld version of the game was also developed for Nintendo DS.

Although by June 2010, it was confirmed that the console game based on the film adaptation of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, was canceled, soon after Disney dropped the franchise. A mobile game of the film, released late 2010, (after Fox took over the franchise), was created by Fox Digital Entertainment in partnership with the video game developer, Gameloft.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Enter Narnia, Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, 2005
  2. ^ Theatreworks release literature
  3. ^ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Guide to Musical Theatre
  4. ^ A general dislike of cinema can be seen in Collected Letters, Vol. 2, a letter to his brother Warren on March 3, 1940, p. 361; see also All My Road Before Me, June 1, 1926, p. 405
  5. ^ Sanford, James (December 24, 2008). "Disney No Longer Under Spell of Narnia". 
  6. ^ "Disney opts out of 3rd 'Narnia' film". Orlando Business Journal. December 29, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader - Release dates". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  8. ^ "Production Company Announced for The Silver Chair". NarniaWeb. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  9. ^ Thompson, John Joseph (2000). Raised by wolves: the story of Christian rock & roll. ECW Press. p. 64. 
  10. ^ Weiss, Bret. "Adventures in Narnia (synopsis)". All Game.