Sunday, 30 December 2018

The Box of Delights

Kay Harker (Devin Stanfield) is a very nice, polite young man - with no qualms about flying, shrinking, talking with anthropomorphised ice skating mice, transforming into a stag or gleefully hacking wolves to pieces with a whacking great sword - who finds himself inexplicably embroiled in a magical war whilst home from school for the Christmas holidays.  After meeting kindly Punch and Judy man Cole Hawlings (Patrick Troughton) he becomes the custodian of the titular box which he must protect from the 'wolves' and in particular the fantastically sinister clergyman Abner Brown (Robert Stephens).

Outside of John Masefield's original 1935 tale the show benefits from an particularly strong adult cast with both Troughton and Stephens in fine form oozing avuncular charm and psychotic menace respectively but the young cast of untrained actors are solid enough with Joanna Dukes as the pistol packing, criminally minded Maria being especially watchable.

Costing the then record breaking £1 million to make with it's fantastic cast and spectacular locations, it's mix of live action and animation and with incidental music by the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's  Roger Limb (buy it here) it remains a stunning evocation of the spirit and fables of legendary pagan Albion  wrapped in the cosy warmth of a traditional Edwardian Christmas.

Buy it here - The Box of Delights [DVD] [1984] - or watch it below.


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