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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Why only 1 book was filmed, and how it was done!

Author: CharleyAcka from United Kingdom
17 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

My 4 and 6years old children (in 1991) thoroughly enjoyed the BBC's broadcast of the 6 episodes which make up the UK & US VHS releases, and we bought Mary Stewart's trilogy afterwards, to read the novels. So, DO remember you are watching a CHILDREN'S TV programme, not a $150,000,000 War and Peace starring Armhole BlackEgg, directed by Stefan PlayHill ! and also it was made 15 years ago. The young actors were inexperienced and in awe of the big names, and the post-production had to be rushed to meet a change in transmission dates by the BBC.

The story was originally shot as 6xhalf-hour episodes for UK children's TV on Sunday evenings. BBC-TV Children's Television cancelled the option with Noel Gay TV to fund filming of the next 2 Mary Stewart books, much to the dismay of exec prod. Bill Cotton,jr whose ambition it was to get the 3 books on screen.

I worked on the shoot as the video engineer.It was shot on an Ikegami 55L camera, on UK 625/50iPAL videotape(component Sony Beta-max) ,and the conversion of this to US 525/60iNTSC system did the effects picture quality no favours, especially on VHS releases. I have a tape of each; the photographic effects we achieved were ruined on both versions, compared to the original broadcasts, and the US version is the worst. It looked fantastic at the BAFTA pre-view screening on their video theatre projector in 1991. The shoot was in Wales, near Caernarvon, in May and June 1991, where it rained on 54days of the 56day shoot--there is one scene where you can see brilliant sunshine, while the Fire Service is off-screen drenching the actors/horses/camera for continuity! We all, actors/actresses/techies, worked an average 75hour/6day week for 9 weeks. The "Bull" scenes were montaged in post-production from footage shot during a 19hour day, quite an achievement in the days when digits where what you scratched with or picked your nose, and one's hands had to hold down 3 cameras on sandbags to keep their position "locked-off" at 4am, and there was no "effects preview" to check artist's position against bull position.

A great children's video, but no feature film! Worth a 7.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A faithful rendering of Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy

Author: cjw-4 from United States
20 February 2006

A faithful rendering of Mary Stewart's first volume of her trilogy of Merlin's life and his part in king Arthur's reign. I had been wondering if any of these books had been put to film, sadly only this one work exists. It is a good introduction to Mary Stewart's Merlin; an honest man who is sometimes baffled by his own power and horrified by the consequences of man's misuse of that power. The scenery is beautiful: George Winter and Trevor Peacock do a wonderful job of portraying Merlin and Ralf, his lifelong servant and friend. For those who are not used to BBC low budget, there are some technical problems that would never be allowed in an American production. Cheifly, the soft focus in the beginning that is supposed to let us know that these are future events, and the badly done voice-over of one of the child actors who obviously had the wrong octave to match the adult George Winter's voice. If you have ever wondered about Merlin's childhood and point of view, this is the movie for you. Ms Stewart is faithful to legend, and you can find her major plot points in any historic report of king Arthur's story. If you want to see what happens after the end of the movie, pick up the next book in the series, "The Hollow Hills". Also if you have missed ever seeing Excalibur, that movie also takes up nicely where this one leaves off. Enjoy!

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Don't Watch This Unless You've Read the Book

Author: totallyswimmer from United States
14 April 2006

Despite how much the actors of this movie must have tried, it was not very good. In comparison with the book this movie is based off of, many scenes and important characters were left out. This movie turned many emotional and dramatic scenes into hilarious scenes. My favorite scenes would have to be the ones of "Mithras" being portrayed as a gymnast doing cartwheels over a bull and the scene where Merlin acts as a possessed zombie with his hands in front of him, telling others to follow him. I would not recommend this movie to others, unless they have read the book. It does help you to better understand some of the more confusing scenes of the book, but without reading the book, it is very confusing.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I loved it

Author: penina45 from United States
20 June 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I read the other comments. In spite of the transition to tape and low production costs, it brought Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave to life for me. It was a little hard to see and hear, especially in the beginning, but if you've read the book, don't miss the others in Stewart's quadrilogy. I can now 'see' the characters in my head. Uthur, Nivian and Ambrosius were perfectly casted, in fact, there were none who were not. The scenery and costumes of time and place seemed to be accurate as well. I liked the Roman influence on the nobility fashion. Best is how Merlin uses his wits even more than his magic. I wish I knew what George Winter is up to now. June 2007

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:


Author: yodamyferret from United Kingdom
10 January 2010

i played a number of parts in this film and the only good thing i can say about it is that i met Trevor peacock and Robert Powell, two very nice people and wonderful actors. as to the actual film, it was utter tripe. the making of it was a farce right down to rafts that wouldn't float. it was a welsh production through and through, most production staff, actors, locations and extras were welsh and what could have been a good film turned into an expensive welsh mess. if you ever have the chance to see this film, which was shown on television in the nineties, then my advice is don't. the reason i say this is because it could very well spoil the story should you ever have the chance to see it done properly. having said all that it would probably fit in very well with all the American cods-wallop we are forced to endure on UK television nowadays.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

This movie is Hilarious

Author: mlb81292 from United States
24 March 2006

This movie, while being a pretty accurate adaptation of the classic novel by Mary Stewart, is terrible. In fact, it's so bad, it's hilarious! From little boy Merlin sobbing hysterically one second and laughing with glee the next to "Mithras" "slaying the white bull (when in reality it looks like he is doing gymnastics), this movie will have you sick with laughter. I would have to say that my favorite part is whenever Camlach is on screen- a short bell is played that sounds rather like music from Psycho. The acting is so bad... words can't describe. The budget was probably a maximum of about $20,000. I would advise you to rent the movie if you need a good laugh!

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