1980 high fantasy film produced by Universal Studios about three orphaned siblings (Isabella, Mark and Jonathan Davies) who enter what they term "the Mystic" through a circle of mushrooms underneath the abandoned orphanage they stayed at when they were younger, before being moved to a foster family. Using groundbreaking special efects, including some pioneering practical effects, this first film shows the siblings simply learning to survive in this new world (though with Isabella and Mark reconciling some personal issues, and Jonathan learning to be more responsible). Intended to be the first part in a hexology of films, The Mystic
franchise is both the first original epic fantasy work for film and the first live-action fantasy work; this is noteworthy because the inspiration- the Bakshi-Rankin-Bass Lord of the Rings
hexology was both animated and based on a pre-existing property. Rings
was also noted- as stated by many critics today- to have faced problems in the adaptation, largely because the process was so new, and also because The War of the Ring
had only just come out, while The Third Age Ends
was only in production, so the entire process was unproven.
The world itself combines elements from C.S. Lewis' Narnia
series and the works of Ursula LeGuin, especially Earthsea
. Due to the latter's influence, there are an increasing number of nonwhite characters as the series progresses; in this first film, however, the characters are mostly white- a product of it's time. According to the writers and producers, the majority of the cast- including the Trio themselves- were originally intended to be mixed-race, while the various Mystic peoples were supposed to have skins that varied even within individual families (with comparisons made to the San people in Africa); however, Universal nixed the idea of mixed-race protagonists, while the casting director was unable to find enough actors with intermediate hair and skin tones for a mixed-race world.
Universal received much criticism for their decision to not allow for mixed-race protagonists; however, the failure of multiple films starring black actors throughout the 1980s in theaters and television, most notably The Epic of Mwindo
in 1983 and The Terminator
in 1984 shows that this may have been the correct action on the part of the studio.
GURPS Changeling the Lost