Spellbinder: exploring science fiction and fantasy

Citation metadata

Author: Annemaree O'Brien
Date: Dec. 22, 2003
From: Australian Screen Education(Issue 33.)
Publisher: Australian Teachers of Media
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,274 words
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SPELLBINDER is a compelling science fiction (SF), fantasy television series about an urban teenager, Paul Reynolds, who finds himself accidentally stranded in a strange medieval world that is, in fact, in the same time and place as our own--a parallel world. With particular appeal to Middle Years students in Years 5 to 8, this series is now available on video for educational use from the Australian Children's Television Foundation and offers a rich educational resource for exploring the SF and Fantasy genres as part of English or Media, and for exploring complex science and technology concepts.

In the series, a freak accident transports teenager Paul to another world, where the industrial revolution never happened. The people live simple lives, in rustic villages with no tools. New ideas are not allowed. They are ruled by the Spellbinders, people with seemingly magical powers who control the populace by manipulating their fear and ignorance.

For Paul, the dangers are immediate. He is quickly recognized as an outsider and hunted by the terrified villagers. He is saved by a courageous girl, Riana, who gives him refuge in her village. When Paul, a science student, discovers that the Spellbinders are using science to convince others in their world that they have magical powers, he realizes that they are his only hope for getting home. But Ashka, a ruthless Spellbinder, wants to use his modern scientific knowledge to gain control of her world.

Using Riana's physical skill and Paul's modern knowledge, they outwit Ashka and Paul finds his way home. However, in order to save Riana's life, Paul has to drag her into his world. Now Riana, who grew up in a closed rustic community, must contend with the chaos and complexity of our modern world. Her confrontations with technology are both amusing and frightening. To make matters worse, the evil but charming Spellbinder Aska also finds a way into our world, and Paul and Riana must use their wits to prevent her gaining access to technology which would have unimaginable consequences in her world. The challenge of defeating Ashka requires all of Paul and Riana's courage and ingenuity.

SF and Fantasy are hugely popular genres with vast audiences across television, film, and literature. In SF and Fantasy, the only limitation is that of the viewer's imagination; and the genres let us become a part of stories and adventures in areas and places that we may only dream of. SF and Fantasy offer an exciting and rich range of genre conventions for exploration in the classroom and Spellbinder is a strong example of both genres. The series has very high production values and was filmed in Australia and in Poland, with its spectacular castles and forests creating an exotic medieval location.

Written by John Thompson and Mark Shirrefs, Spellbinder has a gripping narrative, as the main characters Paul and Riana struggle to cope with the challenges and differences in each other's worlds and at the same time battle the evil and powerful Aska. Throw some fascinating...

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Source Citation

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
O'Brien, Annemaree. "Spellbinder: exploring science fiction and fantasy." Australian Screen Education, no. 33, 2003, p. 39+. Gale Academic Onefile, Accessed 5 Dec. 2019.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A112130489