At last, in less than two weeks, The Chronicles of Narnia will appear on the big screen for the first time ever. However, this much-hyped movie does not quite mark the first time that cameras have rolled on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The book, first published in 1950, has been dramatized at least three times before—but always for television.

Each of these earlier productions was made with much less money than the typical big-screen movie, and all of them were made at least a couple of decades ago, before computer-generated images had become the norm. So, on a visual and technical level, they are not nearly as impressive as the fantasy films that we have since become used to.

They were also made with an explicitly young audience in mind, and as such, they tend to paint their characters in rather broad strokes. The White Witch does a lot of shrieking, and the children sometimes deliver their lines rather earnestly or deliberately, as though they were still memorizing their dialogue but had not yet learned to speak it naturally.

According to the Internet Movie Database, this story was first broadcast on British television as a ten-part black-and-white mini-series in 1967, less than four years after C. S. Lewis's death. This version does not seem to be available on video. Two later adaptations, however, have been released on VHS and DVD multiple times, and are easy to find.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1979)

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In the summer of 1979, the CBS network broadcast a cartoon-animated version produced by the Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Street, The Electric Company) and the Episcopal Radio-TV Foundation. It was directed by Bill Melendez, a former Looney Tunes animator who had since become well-known ...

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