- The 10th Kingdom
The 10th Kingdom
Directed by David Carson
Produced by Robert Halmi Sr.
Robert Halmi Jr.
Written by Simon Moore Starring Kimberly Williams
Music by Anne Dudley Cinematography Chris Howard
Editing by Andrew McClelland
Distributed by Hallmark Entertainment Release date(s) February 27, 2000 Running time 417 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $44,000,000
The 10th Kingdom is an American epic fantasy TV miniseries written by Simon Moore and produced by Britain's Carnival Films, Germany's Babelsberg Film und Fernsehen, and the USA's Hallmark Entertainment. It depicts the adventures of a young woman and her father after they are transported from Manhattan, New York, through a magical mirror into a parallel world of fairy tales, magical beings, evil stepmothers and self-discovery.
The miniseries was initially broadcast over five nights in 2-hour episodes on NBC, beginning February 27, 2000. It garnered good reviews but very poor ratings. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2000.
Prince Wendell is on his way to visit the Evil Queen in a routine rejection of her parole request. Meanwhile, Relish the Troll King has come to the prison to free his children, Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell. The Evil Queen mesmerizes him, causing the Troll King to free her. Prince Wendell is brought before the Evil Queen who then releases a magical dog, which switches bodies with Wendell. The prince, now a dog, escapes through an old traveling mirror in the prison basement, winding up in the mythical "10th Kingdom," also known as modern day New York City. Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell are sent after him. The Evil Queen also frees a half-man, half-wolf (called simply Wolf) to track down the dog prince. Virginia Lewis, a Central Park waitress, finds the dog and takes to calling him Prince. Together with her father, Tony, she follows Prince back through the magic mirror to his world, known as the Nine Kingdoms.
The three arrive at the prison, where Tony is promptly arrested with Prince, while Virginia is kidnapped by the three trolls. Wolf rescues her and the two go back to help Tony and Prince escape from the prison. The Evil Queen launches her plot to bring down the House of White, training the magic dog to imitate Wendell. She uses her magic mirrors (heirlooms from the Swamp Witch, Snow White's evil stepmother) to search for the real Prince and commands Wolf to divulge his new companion's identities, but he refuses.
The four set out in pursuit of the mirror, which has been removed from the prison. Along the way, they must contend with a gypsy's curse, a magic wishing well, and a relentless Huntsman in the service of the Queen. When they do find the mirror it is up for auction. Unfortunately, the auctioneers suspect it is magical, and their asking price is astronomical. The Huntsman buys the mirror and hides in it on a tower. Prince acts as bait for the hunter while Tony attempts to steal the mirror, only to inadvertently destroy it.
After the mirror shatters, Virginia turns the shattered mirror pieces over to find the manufacturing seal on the back of the mirror shards. They travel on, seeking the dwarves that made the mirror. They find them in their mines, and learn of the existence of two other travelling mirrors capable of returning them to their world. But they soon learn that one is at the bottom of the ocean and the other is in the possession of the Queen. Meanwhile, in an ice cavern near the mines, Virginia meets the spirit of Snow White, who warns her that her fate is to save the Nine Kingdoms. Snow White gives Virginia her own magic mirror and bids her farewell.
As Virginia and Tony return to the 4th Kingdom, Prince is captured and returned to the Evil Queen. Virginia uses her mirror to see the Evil Queen, whom Tony recognizes as his wife and Virginia's long lost mother, Christine. She had been brought to the Nine Kingdoms to become the successor to the Swamp Witch. Wolf reunites with Virginia and Tony and the three of them sneak into the castle to confront the Evil Queen.
In the end, Virginia kills the Evil Queen in self defense using a poisoned comb. She and Wolf return to Manhattan (after learning she is pregnant with his "wolf-cub") while Tony decides to stay in the Nine Kingdoms.
- Kimberly Williams as Virginia Lewis - Virginia is a pretty 21-year-old woman who lives on the edge of Central Park with her father. Virginia is very cynical and tired, and while she claims that she doesn't care about her mother or dating, it soon becomes obvious that she feels very lonely. She later reveals that she blames herself for her mother leaving. While at first she cares only about returning to her own world, Virginia eventually commits to helping Wendell rescue his kingdom. Melissa Perenson said that "Virginia must learn how to face the pain caused when her mother abandoned her." Slowly she develops feelings for Wolf. According to Ron Wertheimer, Virginia is a plucky waitress on her way to self-confidence.
- John Larroquette as Anthony Lewis - Tony is a janitor and single father who is mostly oblivious to his daughter, Virginia's, problems and feelings. In the beginning he is portrayed as selfish, greedy, and cowardly,(which is why so many of the characters give negative comments about him) but by the end of the series he is willing to do anything to save Virginia.
- Scott Cohen as Wolf - Known only as "Wolf", this confused and confusing character provides a lot of the comic relief in The 10th Kingdom. Imprisoned in the Snow White Memorial Prison for "sheep worrying", Wolf is released by the Evil Queen after he swears allegiance to her. He goes to New York City in search of Prince Wendell and meets Virginia, with whom he falls instantly in love. He teams up with Virginia and Tony and spends most of the film trying to decide whose side he is on. He wants Virginia to be happy, but he doesn't want her to leave. At the same time, he must keep his deal with the Evil Queen hidden from them and protect their identities from her. He must also do what he can to keep his wolfish nature in check.
- Dianne Wiest as Christine White usually referred to as the Evil Queen - The main antagonist of the film and Prince Wendell's stepmother. She had been sentenced to a life in prison for murdering both of Wendell's parents and almost killing him. Later in the series she is revealed to be Virginia's long-lost mother. Prior to the events in the miniseries, Christine discovered the traveling mirror after running away from a failed attempt to kill Virginia. She was taken in by the Swamp Witch (Snow White's stepmother) and became her apprentice. The plot of the series concerns her plan to take over the Nine Kingdoms. At the start of the show she is released from prison and turns Wendell into a dog. The Evil Queen is depicted as pure evil and quite insane, however she becomes more three-dimensional once her true identity is revealed.
- Daniel Lapaine as Prince Wendell - Snow White's grandson, the spoiled, arrogant, and bored heir to the throne of the 4th kingdom, Prince Wendell spends most of the film as a dog. He can only communicate with Tony, and slowly becomes more humble and responsible. After his adventures and times with Tony, he's left somewhat fascinated by the modern 10th Kingdom(New York City). And insists on Tony building him a "bouncing castle" and thus encourages Tony to give him an industrial revolution.
- Rutger Hauer as The Huntsman - The Evil Queen's huntsman, who is sent to kill Virginia and Tony, carries a magical crossbow that never fails to hit the heart of a living thing when fired. The Huntsman is completely devoted to the Evil Queen and firmly believes in fate and destiny, holding no interest in mercy.
- Ed O'Neill as Relish, the Troll King - Relish is the king of the troll kingdom and the father of Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell. He temporarily joins forces with the Evil Queen, but later abandons her plans for conquest when he decides to take the 4th Kingdom for himself. He is killed and beheaded by the Evil Queen when she claims to be holding his children captive, and uses the meeting they arrange as an opportunity to poison Relish the Troll King and his guards.
- Hugh O'Gorman, Dawnn Lewis, and Jeremiah Birkett as Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell - These three troll siblings provide much of the comic relief as they attempt to complete the task given them by the Evil Queen of hunting down Prince Wendell and later Virginia and Tony. They spend a large part of the film as golden statues after Tony misuses a magic spell. They are clumsy and incompetent, but still pose a major threat to the heroes.
- Camryn Manheim as Snow White - She is mentioned many times and is eventually seen by only Virginia and her grandson Prince Wendell (as a dog) in a white cavern in a ice-like coffin most likely constructed by the original Seven Dwarves. Virginia is at first confused to see her, as she was thought to be dead. While Snow admits this, she adds that she's more into the "fairy godmother appearance" sort of thing. Despite being passed on, she still holds some sort of influence (such as removing Tony's bad luck and broken back) and has been protecting Virginia in many ways, by shielding her image from the Evil Queen. Upon meeting her she tells Virginia her childhood story and tells Virginia that she is destined for many great things and gives her advice on how to kill the Evil Queen. Around her tomb it was written "For seven men, she gave her life. For one good man, she was his wife. Beneath the ice by Snow White Falls. Here lies the fairest of them all."
- Ann-Margret as Cinderella- She's one of the oldest living fabled-princesses of the 9 kingdoms. She's over 200 of years old, but appears young because she's had a lot of "magic surgery". Though her surgery hasn't slowed the rest of her from aging as can be seen with her loud coughing. She's often accompanied by her two elderly stepsisters and is the maternal grandmother of Prince Wendell. Her daughter Queen Ashley (Wendell's mother) was her only child, but not much is known about her relationship with her grandson. However she was seen at his coronation and tested him on humility.
- Moira Lister as Grandmother- The mother of Christine Lewis, Tony's wife and Viriginia's grandmother. She despises Tony because he's lower class, but loves Virginia and thinks she needs to marry into high society. She believes Christine to be out somewhere enjoying luxury, she never knew Christine tried to kill Virginia.
- Warwick Davis as Acorn the Dwarf- He's a minor character in the story, he's seen in the beginning helping Tony and the others escape from prison. He's later seen selling various and probably stolen goods, such as the magic mirror. And again, hiding in the swamps in the very house Snow White's evil stepmother had lived. He gives Virginia a brief time to rest when she's searching for her father and even lets her see the Evil Queen's tomb. Afterwards he directs her to where she could find Tony.
- John Shrapnel as the Jail warden.
Simon Moore, writer of the screenplay, wondered about what happened after the Happily Ever After of old fairytales. His vision became The 10th Kingdom. The fast production on television usually scares Kimberly Williams, and she prefers acting in film and theatre to television. Nevertheless, she accepted the offer to play Virginia Lewis.
According to The New York Times "There are humorous allusions to familiar characters like the Seven Dwarfs and Rapunzel throughout the 10 hours and appearances by updated versions of Snow White (Camryn Manheim) and Cinderella (Ann-Margret)." Executive producer Robert Halmi Sr. explains, "'We wanted to take the flip side of these well-known characters...For instance, our Cinderella is now 200 years old. And Camryn took her part because she loved the idea that Snow White was now overweight.'" Camryn Manheim elaborates, "Well, I've been playing her in my bedroom for many years now, so I was ready for her. But it was wonderful, I grew up reading about Snow White and fantasizing about being the fairest of them all, and there I was...My manager told me that NBC had offered me the role of Snow White and I said, 'I'll take it.' I didn't read it ... and I agreed to do it even before reading the script because I was so thrilled that they were moving away from the conventional Snow White....I am playing Snow White, and we've come very far from that image when I grew up and we're getting all kinds of images of beauty...So it was really thrilling to get in that tight corset and be able to accentuate my assets, no pun intended and, yes, it was a throwback to my finer days."
The Times reports that Virginia Lewis's portrayer, Kimberly Williams, "prefers to work in film and theatre rather than television. 'Because TV happens so fast, I feel a sense of panic,' she explains. Yet, despite the misgivings, she could not resist the offer to star in The 10th Kingdom alongside Dianne Wiest, Jimmy Nail and Rutger Hauer....'Simon has woven together all the old fairytales and updated them, exploring what happened after Happily Ever After,' explains Williams, whose character Virginia is a New York waitress thrust into a parallel world inhabited by trolls, talking dogs and evil stepmothers."
Broadcast and reception
Seattle Post Intelligencer critic John Levesque found Kimberly Williams "annoying yet somehow captivating as Virginia." Ron Wertheimer describes Virginia as "that plucky waitress...on her way to self-confidence."
Variety's Laura Fries aserts that "Kimberly Williams is doe-eyed and pretty and is heavily featured throughout, but 10 hours is a lot for this star to carry on her shoulders." Christopher Null felt that "Larroquette [was] an unfortunate casting choice. 30 minutes of Night Court has always been my limit on the guy. 417 minutes is too much of his abrasive attitude to handle."
During the original airing of The 10th Kingdom there was a toll-free number displayed so that one could order a set of the novelization, the CD soundtrack, and the entire mini-series on three cassette tapes. In May 2000, The 10th Kingdom was released by Hallmark Entertainment and Artisan Entertainment (now Lions Gate Entertainment) on VHS as both a two tape set and as an Extended Play single tape edition. Approximately two hours of the miniseries was cut out to make it fit on two tapes. None of the footage dealt with major plot elements, but the sheer amount removed resulted in a significantly different viewing experience. The miniseries was later released as aired on a 3 disc DVD set in October 2000. A two disc set followed in May 2002, which utilized one double sided disc and one single sided disc and included the special feature "The 10th Kingdom: The Making of an Epic", hosted by John Larroquette. The 2 disc set is now out of print; however, the 3 disc set is still widely available.
The novelization, released in February 2000 by Hallmark-Kensington Books, was written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith under the name Kathryn Wesley. The novel was based on an early version of the script; however, only a few differences exist between the novel and the film, with most being slight changes in conversations and other minor details. For a number of years it was available in a package with the VHS release of the movie and the soundtrack, but it is now out of print.
Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album on compact disc, featuring the score by Anne Dudley and the Miriam Stockley cover version of "Wishing On A Star" heard over the opening title and end credits of each episode.
- The 4 Who Saved The 9 Kingdoms (2:40)
- Standing On The Edge Of Greatness (1:50)
- Six Glorious Wishes (2:03)
- Addicted To Magic (2:43)
- The House Of White (2:44)
- Troll Trouble (3:45)
- Flowers Only Grow Where There Are Seeds (2:18)
- The Dwarves Of Magic Mountain (2:32)
- Nothing Escapes The Huntsman (2:26)
- A Stepmother's Curse (3:04)
- The Dog Formerly Known As Prince (1:56)
- Blood On The Snow (1:28)
- Trolls In New York (1:25)
- A Travelling Mirror (1:59)
- Kissing Town (2:16)
- A Gypsy Incantation (2:21)
- These Are Dark Days (3:14)
- Seven Years Bad Luck (2:32)
- The Days Of Happy Ever After Are Gone (2:13)
- When The Wild Moon Calls You (2:34)
- Still Lost In The Forest (2:57)
- Do Not Think, Become (2:19)
- Wishing On A Star - Miriam Stockley (1:23)
- ^ Melissa Perenson, "The 10th Kingdom: What happens after happily-ever-after?," SciFi.com.
- ^ a b Ron Wertheimer, "A Fairy Tale For Adults (Watch for Snow White)," The New York Times Television Reviews 2000: The New York Times (New York: Routledge, 2001), 98.
- ^ Simon Moore, The 10th Kingdom, DVD, directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise, New York: Hallmark Entertainment, 2000. See the special features section on Tony for Christine's maiden name.
- ^ a b Clive King, "Kimberly Williams I," The Times.
- ^ CRAIG TOMASHOFF, "COVER STORY; Through a Very Different Looking Glass," The New York Times (February 27, 2000).
- ^ As quoted in PAT ST.GERMAIN, "Camryn relishes NBC Snow job," JAM! (January 11, 2000).
- ^ John Levesque, "'10th Kingdom' isn't perfect, but it is creative," Seattle Post Intelligencer (February 24, 2000).
- ^ LAURA FRIES, "The 10th Kingdom Review," Variety (Feb. 21, 2000).
- ^ Christopher Null, "Review of The 10th Kingdom," Filmcritic.com (2001).
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