The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair



BBC's heroic Narnia adventure marred by slow pace.
  • Review Date: May 2, 2007
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1990
  • Running Time: 180 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Bullied children follow a magical quest and return to their world prepared to stand up to their tormentors. The main characters are repeatedly reminded of their responsibility to complete their noble mission despite deep fear and physical danger. A cowardly adult character offers his life in exchange for that of a child, learning that he is indeed heroic.

Violence & scariness

Scenes of fantasy violence and threats: giants hurling boulders at fleeing children and threatening to eat them, a bewitched character grabbing a child, an attack by an admittedly low-tech gigantic snake.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

No profanity, but a few "shut ups" and "idiots," which may not be appropriate for younger kids.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The adult guide for the children gets drunk and has a hangover.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this 1990 BBC adaptation of C.S. Lewis' book from the Chronicles of Narnia series does justice to the original story, but is slow moving and feels dated by the nearly 20-year-old special effects. The story of two children who escape from bullying schoolmates and set off on a noble quest presents rich and imaginative characters. Facing challenge after challenge -- some of their own making -- the children become the heroes of the story.

What's the story?

THE SILVER CHAIR follows the heroic quest of Eustace (David Thwaites) and Jill (Camilla Power), bullied students at an English boarding school, as they escape to Narnia upon a mission assigned to them by the lion Aslan (voiced by Ronald Pickup). Reciting the four signs from Aslan like guideposts or a prayer, they seek to find missing Prince Rilian (Richard Henders), the son of Eustace's old friend Caspian (Geoffrey Russell).

Is it any good?


The Silver Chairwas the fourth in a BBC-produced miniseries based on C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia fantasy novels. The story itself is compelling and fantastic, populated with talking owls, centaurs, rock-like UnderEarth men, and an evil serpent/queen. Kids will probably appreciate the bravery and cunning that Jill and Eustace, along with their aptly named guide Puddleglum (Tom Baker) show as they progress on their journey. And the relatively straightforward display of good vs. evil is easy for kids to follow, though adults familiar with Lewis' layered storytelling may find themselves pondering the meaning of the Lady of the Green Kirtle (Barbara Kellerman) and the Silver Chair as well.

However, at almost 180 minutes, there are scenes of the heroes trekking across barren landscapes that feel like they were shot in real-time. And although the miniseries won BAFTA awards for costume design, camera work, and lighting when it premiered in 1989/1990, the special effects seem very dated now, especially compared to 2005's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe . The set designs, however, still hold up, particularly the gloomy underworld into which the children tumble. On the whole the movie is worth seeing for kids between 7 and 11 who enjoy adventure and fantasy stories, but be prepared for the inevitable special effects comparisons.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the quest that Jill and Eustace undertake. Why did Eustace want to help his old friend Caspian? Some of the challenges the children faced were choosing whom to trust, keeping promises at great personal sacrifice, and staying alert to the world around them -- have you ever been faced with any of these challenges? Also, the Narnia books contain many allusions to Christianity that could generate discussion, such as who Aslan is meant to represent.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:January 1, 1990
DVD release date:March 27, 2007
Cast:Camilla Powell, David Thwaites, Warwick Davis
Director:Alex Kirby
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Run time:180 minutes
MPAA rating:NR
MPAA explanation:Not Rated

This review of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair was written by

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 9 years old December 31, 2010

wow i stuffed animals that look better then this

i hate this
Teen, 13 years old Written byCub5 September 10, 2015

Nowhere near as good

I watched the 3 movies (2005, 2008 and 2011) in the Narnia series (not the BBC ones) and I got hold of this one. Don't bother, it's REALLY bad. The whole thing looks outdated, the animal characters don't even look anywhere CLOSE to realistic (unlike the other ones.) I didn't even watch the whole thing because it was so bad. I know the whole thing was in 1990, but just a bit of advice. This isn't the case with this because it was actually made BEFORE, but here's my advice: if you read a really good book and want someone to make it into a film, keep in mind some really bad producer might decide to make it and then that book has a really bad film attached to it. And then no one can make a better version after that because the book is already taken by the bad film.
Kid, 9 years old January 26, 2015

OK, But Some Inappropriate Scenes

Personally, I think this is Lewis's best work so far. But the fact that Puddleglum gets drunk is disturbing. It adds nothing to the plot, and just makes people uncomfortable. But it is otherwise a good movie.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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