Follow TV Tropes


Film / The Colour of Magic

Go To

The second Discworld adaption by Sky One, The Colour of Magic adapts the Discworld novel of the same name, as well as the immediate follow-up The Light Fantastic.

In the fantastical Discworld's premier Wretched Hive, Ankh-Morpork, the Disc's first tourist, the naive Twoflower, finds himself the target of much attention and confusion on arrival, soon hooking up with cowardly "wizzard" Rincewind. The two embark on a comedy of errors which leads them on one adventure after another (such as introducing the concept of insurance to a greedy public, falling afoul of the upwardly mobile Trymon of Unseen University, encountering imaginary dragons and octogenarian barbarians, and accidentally saving the world), merrily skewering fantasy cliches along the way.

The movie focuses more on Unseen University in The Colour of Magic part than the original book, as well as having Vetinari's character more resemble his later interpretations.


  • Accidental Unfortunate Gesture: Twoflower performs one in the bar. Thankfully the possibility of a large payment makes Broadman just correct him so he knows the V-sign with the middle and index fingers should be made with the palm facing the recipient. He also has a little drawing in his tourist book showing the palm-forward sign meaning "Two", and the palm-back sign meaning "F&@# Off!"
  • Adaptation Distillation: Compared to the original books, the story has been streamlined and given more focus. Particularly the Colour of Magic episode cuts a lot of the excess plot lines and asides (and several characters) in order to give more focus to the Krullians and the wizards at Unseen University. The trip to the temple of Bel-Shamharoth is left out entirely, though Twoflower does keep wanting to go there.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • Trymon's role in the story was expanded significantly. While Trymon makes a few half-hearted attempts to bump off Weatherwax in the book and simply reaped the benefits of deaths he didn't actually cause, in the film he takes a far more active role in bumping off his superiors.
    • We get to see quite a bit more of the Librarian, pre-orangification. He was already quite orangutan-like even before being transformed.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: The two barfights from the book are combined into one event at the beginning of the Ankh-Morpork adventure. This means the Merchants form a guild and hire mercenaries specifically to protect Twoflower, while someone else hires the Assassins against him, all before he's left the bar he walked into as soon as he entered the city. (Vast amounts of pure gold do have that effect on people, though.)
  • Adaptational Modesty: Liessa the dragon rider has a leather halter top and shorts instead of just enough chainmail bits to not technically be naked. In the book all the women in the Wyrmberg were topless.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: Herenna on the other hand goes from wearing very sensible chainmail armour, to some kind of cleavage showing black leather corset, leaning right into the book's complaints about what happens when the cover artist gets hold of your characters.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The dryads. Instead of the dryad Druellae saving Rincewind from the wolves, it's the Luggage that does so.
    • Tethis the sea troll, who saves Rincewind from drowning in the book. Twoflower saves him in the film.
    • Hrun the barbarian, who in the book is a major part of the Wyrmberg story as well as the completely excised temple of Bel-Shamharoth, disappears entirely along with the subplot where he ended up marrying the dragon riders' new queen.
    • The troll clan Rincewind befriends (including the first appearance of recurring character Chrysoprase) during the first encounter with the mercenaries is cut out, which leaves the whole scene fairly disjointed. It also creates the oddity of the ancient troll encountered actually being called "Old Grandad" instead of literally being one of their ancestors.
  • Age Lift: Rincewind's age is explicitly given as 33 in the books; here, he's played by David Jason, who was in his late sixties when filming took place. However, other than changing Rincewind's extended period of study at Unseen University from a decade or two to exactly forty years, it doesn't actually impact on the plot much.
  • Audible Sharpness: Cohen's dentures, made from troll teeth. He's ready to test them out on a steak.
  • Behind the Black: Rincewind and Twoflower failing to notice the Krullians right in front of them as they're getting off the boat.
  • Bowdlerise: Rincewind's infamous "All Gods are bastards" quote is changed to "All Gods are idiots" - which is not so bad (after all, it was originally shown on a family channel at prime time), except that David Jason can clearly be seen mouthing the word "bastards", and the dubbed-over audio cuts in so clunkily with "idiots" that at first it seems like another character has interrupted him from off-screen. This is even the case in the DVD release, not even as an optional cleaned-up audio track, but as the only one available, and so can't be turned off.
  • The Cameo: Terry Pratchett makes an appearance as an Astrozoologist and has the last line in the movie.
  • Catapult Nightmare: After being knocked out by a priest, Rincewind has a dream that places him inside the Octavo. After they tell him he must return to Ankh-Morpork, he suddenly awakens by sitting up straight.
  • Correspondence Course: Used to cover up a plot hole left from the book-to-film adaptation.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Things from the Dungeon Dimensions play a much reduced role, being neither seen nor named but only referred to in the most vague terms. It's not made clear that they're possessing Trymon during the final battle as in the book.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rincewind after he's expelled from the Unseen University. Fortunately he's saved by an empty pallet that moves in beneath his feet just as he jumps.
  • Facial Dialogue: In the scene of Rincewind's expulsion, Rincewind gives a look of "You can't be serious?" to Weatherwax and shakes his head in disbelief. Weatherwax gives a "Yes, I'm afraid so" nod.
  • Foreshadowing: Horace makes quite a few references to monkeying around and going ape while he still has vocal chords suitable for the job.
  • Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Vetinari, which pretty much comes out of nowhere.
  • Flipping the Bird: Rincewind gives the deliberately offensive two-fingered gesture to Blind Hugh soon after meeting Twoflower.
  • Funny Background Event: Lots. Especially if the Luggage is in the background of a shot.
  • Gender Flip: Several, most notably several male dragonriders from the book were removed and their roles given to Liessa, turning her into a Composite Character.
    • Also Ninereeds the dragon, who is referred to as male in the book, but is pretty clearly female in the movie.
    • One of Herenna's goons is changed to female.
  • Goodbye, Cruel World!: Rincewind says "Goodbye, world", when he tries to take his own life.
  • The Grim Reaper: Death of course.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Twoflower.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Twoflower jumps in front of a spell meant for Rincewind.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: The DVD has a blooper reel.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: Rincewind makes one while he and Twoflower are disguised as Chelonauts (the line was adapted from one from The Science of Discworld).
    Rincewind: Is there a toilet in this suit?
    Twoflower: I don't think so. Why?
    Rincewind: Because I think I need to boldly go.
  • Ironic Echo: An example where the line "goodbye, world" has been said both times in bad situations: the first when Rincewind was about to jump into the river Ankh, and the second where he's falling off the edge of the world and sees the red star, thinking back to his conversation with Twoflower as to what he should name it. "I'll give it a name: goodbye world."
  • Keet: Sean Astin's performance as Twoflower.
  • Klingon Promotion: Trymon gets to the top this way (Dead Man's Pointy Shoes, as it's called in the story).
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Rincewind punches Twoflower when he expresses excitement at being "at Death's door".
  • Literally Shattered Lives: After Trymon is turned to stone, workers attempt to move him, but accidentally drop him, and he shatters to pieces, to which Rincewind comments he'll make a very nice rockery. Though it's implied that the cause of death was being turned to stone in itself (see below).
  • Mythology Gag: Shortly before he's transformed into an orang-utan, the librarian is referred to in passing as "Horace". Speculation as to his human identity didn't even enter into the book series for quite a while, but a few characters vaguely remember a chap called "Horace Worblehat" having been the university librarian when they're pondering on it in later books, though they never find out for sure.
    • Also, Death says he's having a "near-Rincewind experience," which he never says in the actual book, but he does say in Thud! that he's having a "near-Vimes experience."
    • The film lifts a joke from The Science of Discworld and throws in a Star Trek reference.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Twoflower saving Rincewind from drowning.
  • Only Mostly Dead: After he takes a spell to save Rincewind, Twoflower is "gone" for a period of time: not exactly dead but his soul did end up in Death's house.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The Patrician has been switched to Havelock Vetinari, magnificent/Manipulative Bastard of later Discworld books, rather than the obese hedonist originally depicted in the first book. (Technically, the patrician from the first book is Vetinari, by Word of PTerry)
  • Race Lift: Agatean tourist Twoflower is played by Sean Astin, though to be fair the Agatean empire was not established as a Chinese/Japanese counterpart country until Interesting Times and Word of God is Twoflower was meant as a parody of American/British tourists. However, when he speaks Agatean to Rincewind he still has a strong Chinese/Japanese accent.
  • Right-Hand Cat: Apart from being a dog, Wuffles fills this role for Vetinari in the film, despite not showing up in the book.
  • Scenery Porn: The on-location footage is quite gorgeous.
  • Shout-Out:
    Rincewind: Is there a toilet in this suit?
    Twoflower: I don't think so. Why?
    Rincewind: Because I think I need to boldly go.
  • Shown Their Work: The Librarian gets referred to by name, a name that didn't appear in the books, but was mentioned in The Discworld Companion.
  • Spit Take: Rincewind does this when he's shown a Caroc card with the red star depicted on it.
  • Taken for Granite: Trymon turns the other wizards to stone after reading the first seven spells. Later he accidentally turns himself to stone. It is likely that this in itself kills them, given that Rincewind speculates they probably can't be turned back, and when Trymon is turned to stone, the first seven spells are returned to the book, which is said to happen in the event of the death of the one that possesses them.
  • Taking the Bullet: Twoflower takes a spell for Rincewind in The Light Fantastic.
  • Title Drop: Both The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic in their respective episodes.
  • Translation Convention: Taken a step further than in the book where it was taken as read that Rincewind was talking Betrobbi when talking to Twoflower. They actually talk in what the viewer is expected to assume is Betrobbi for a short while, complete with subtitles, until Twoflower admits that he took a correspondence course in Morporkian. From that point on you can assume that all conversation is being conducted in Morporkian.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Rincewind, both times Twoflower saves his life. Twoflower calls him out on this the second time. Rincewind makes up for it in the second part when he goes to save Twoflower in return.
  • Voice of the Legion: This is what Rincewind sounds like when the spell possesses him.