Awesome Adaptations: An Awesome Fantasy Adaptation
Awesome Adaptations is a weekly bookish meme, hosted at Alisa Selene’s books blog, Picturemereading.
Each week I will be writing about an adaptation of a book that I think is worth seeing and I have challenged myself to come up with suggestions to match a category. Any format (television series, film, web series, etc.) is acceptable as long as it is based in some form on a book. If you’re playing along, just mention this blog in your post. Let us know what adaptation you’d pick and why it is worth watching. Oh, and don’t forget to share the link to your own post in the comments for that week’s challenge so that everyone can read your thoughts!
If you don’t have a blog yet though you can still play along, just leave your answer in the comments thread for each week’s challenge.
This week’s challenge is to name: An Awesome Fantasy Adaptation
Title: The Last Unicorn
Adapted From: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
This adaptation holds a special place in my heart as I think it is the first movie I ever remember as a child crying at the end of. It tells the story of a Unicorn who lives in a magically protected forest and believes that she is the last of her kind left. Until one day she overhears two huntsman talking and decides to go on a journey to discover if there are others of her kind.
What follows is a wonderful story in in which she encounters witches, magicians, princes and even at one point transforms into a human being. The ending is a tragic one, that to this day never fails to bring tears to my eyes. All of the characters, even the evil ones, are very well drawn out and incredibly sympathetic and there is a sense of tragedy about them all as they try to discover who they are and how to find happiness in this life.
There are several things I love about this adaptation. Firstly, the gorgeous artwork that really brings the story to life. It is obviously inspired by the medieval tapestries and the line work on all the characters is just amazing. On top of that the voice work is brilliantly done, with Schmendrick being a standout being both ridiculous, touching and arrogant all at once.
I think one of the best performances is by Molly Grue, the moment in which she meets the Unicorn for the first time and laments the loss of her youth brings tears to your eyes. The romance between Lir and Amalthea is touching, but I think my favorite is the final one between the broken Grue and the lost Schmendrick. As well the songs are plaintive and beautiful, there is a reason that at one point I imported a German soundtrack in order to be able to listen to the songs. Overall this is just an amazing adaptation, one of my all time favorites and I highly recommend you watch it at some point in your life.
Adapted From: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis
If you have listened to some of our Book Club Extra audios you may well have heard me discussing my love of the Narnia books. Certainly I credit this series for being responsible for my developing a love of reading as my earliest reading memories are of reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe on my own. But what led to me picking up that book in the first place and starting my explorations of Narnia? I picked up that book because I had already fallen in love with the BBC television adaptations that were made in the late 1980s.
The BBC adapted four of the stories: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Silver Chair between 1988 and 1990. I enjoyed each of those productions enormously but my favorite of them all has to be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. In part that is because it has the most variety of the four tales as in the course of the story the characters encounter sea monsters, strange invisible monsters, sorcerers and even a dragon! I remember being glued to the television, being thrilled to see where the Dawn Treader would land next and to learn what sort of adventures the characters would have.
The other reason that this production in particular appealed to me was the wonderful cast the BBC were able to assemble. In addition to the young actors returning as Lucy and Edmund, David Thwaites is gloriously loathsome (at least at first) as Eustace and there are great supporting turns from Warwick Davis as the adorably noble mouse Reepicheep and from a very stern John Hallam as Captain Drinian. Best of all though is Sam West who plays the critical role of King Caspian and is able to balance lighter moments with some wonderful sparks of intensity, especially in the scenes at the Lone Islands and at Deathwater Island.
While the visual effects look decidedly primitive compared to the recent big screen adaptations made by Disney and Fox, it was the stories, characters and ideas that really took hold of me. In fact when I revisited the adaptations when the DVDs first came out, I was surprised to see how basic many of those effects were – in my mind, tiny skirmishes had become enormous battles and I had been sure that they must have used a real lion for Aslan (rather than the puppet I so clearly see now). Even more surprisingly I found I liked them every bit as much as I had done when I was five and six years old, if not better for understanding the themes more clearly.
So those are our choices, how about yours? Link to your blog post in the comments below and let us know what you’d pick.
Next week we’ll pick an an An Awesome Shakespearian Adaptation. Check out the schedule for the rest of the year here.