Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic is a television film that appeared as a screen adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s novels The Light Fantastic and The Colour of Magic, opening his extremely long cycle Discworld written in the style of humoristic fantasy. After the extremely successful screen version of Hogfather, it was only natural for Pratchett to release the right on these two books. The result turned out to be ambiguous.
While the film looks extremely good and doesn’t leave an impression of low-budget product, as it sometimes was with the Hogfather, there is always a feeling that something is amiss. Maybe it is the set of actors, maybe it is their constant tendency to overact, or it is too literal following of the letter of the book, maybe it is the film’s extreme length that, taking into account that a number of scenes from the original text have been removed completely, seems rather strange.
However, The Colour of Magic was received rather favorably both by the public and Pratchett himself who accepted that the spirit of his texts was preserved in the film. Not everybody, however, share this opinion. Some say that the leading role is an obvious miscasting, for the actor who is in his late sixties plays a middle-aged character, others attract attention to the length of the film.
Pratchett’s books must be very hard to cinematize, because they are always full of very characteristic details, overtones and digressions that, in fact, create the very specific spirit that is very difficult to convey through any media other than the text. And, while the direction here in general looks spotless, some of this specific atmosphere is lost somewhere on the way.