Children’s book film adaptations are big business. Harry Potter took the movie world by storm after conquering the bestsellers list and the Hobbit trilogy follows in the wake of the filming of The Lord of the Rings.
The latest kid’s series to be rumoured to be on its way to the big screen is Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl. First published in 2001, the seven books tell the story of Artemis Fowl II, criminal genius and more of an antihero than many children’s characters, looking for his father. Miramax bought the rights when the first book came out, but the film failed to materialise. However, Harvey Weinstein has agreed to produce the project, which has Michael Goldenberg writing the script.
It remains to be seen whether the Fowl books really will be filmed this time, but in the meantime, check out some of these lesser known film adaptations of classic children’s books.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1979)
Long before the 2005 live action adaptation of C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there was an animated version made for TV. Lewis’ thinly veiled Christian allegory tells the story of four children who find themselves in Narnia, a fantasy world reached through an old Wardrobe. Peter, Susan and Lucy go on a quest to find Aslan, a powerful beast who they hope will be able to save their brother Edmund from the evil White Witch.
Broadcast by CBS and subsequently released on video, the cartoon was watched by 37 million people and rightly won an Emmy Award. It’s a simpler film than the more recent remake, perhaps reflecting the attitudes of the time and there are some anachronisms with the book, the biggest being that Father Christmas’ role is played down, Aslan being the one to gift the children their weapons instead. Further, the animation may be seen as dated by younger audiences used to the sophistication of today’s CGI. Nevertheless, this beautiful film is well worth checking out.