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At the Back of the North Wind (Radio Theatre)
At the Back of the North Wind (Radio Theatre)
Murray Watts
Tyndale Entertainment, 2005

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Philip Glassborow

Listening for Another Reality

Adapting George MacDonald for radio.

If the north wind had a voice, how would it sound? In his novel At the Back of the North Wind, George MacDonald gives us some helpful clues. North Wind appears as a mysterious visitor to a young invalid boy, Diamond, in his attic room over a stable:

Leaning over him was the large beautiful pale face of a woman. Her dark eyes looked a little angry, for they had just begun to flash; but a quivering in her sweet upper lip made her look as if she were going to cry. What was most strange was that away from her head streamed out her black hair in every direction, so that the darkness in the hayloft looked as if it were made of her hair; but as Diamond gazed at her ... her hair began to gather itself out of the darkness, and fell down all about her again, till her face looked out of it like a moon out of a cloud.

North Wind takes the boy on a series of extraordinary adventures, sometimes in the guise of a little child, other times as a mighty force who carries him up into the heavens and away to a far-distant land.

So why did we wonder what her voice would sound like? Recently, we had the privilege of adapting MacDonald's novel for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, a weekly drama series.

"Story always tells us more than the mere words," as Madeleine l'Engle has observed. This is one of the key reasons Focus on the Family is committed to retelling great stories through its Radio Theatre series. A story like Silas Marner or Les Miserables or Billy Budd, Sailor may not include any overt Christian message. Yet it conveys a great deal more than the "mere words" and events of the plot. George Eliot's themes of reward and redemption, the underlying battle Victor Hugo reveals between law and grace, Melville's themes of innocence and sacrifice: all of these hint persuasively at a Christian worldview.

Dramatizing such classics is a delight, and each story presents a different challenge. Les Miserables, which was distilled into seven half-hour episodes, offered an embarrassment of riches, ...

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