If you're going to bring a beloved classic to life, you had better do it right - and director Andrew Adamson did just that, largely because of his own special memories of reading the book as a child. The timing for this film was also right - not only because it follows in the wake of the masterful Lord of the Rings series (and there will always be comparisons between Narnia and LOTR, despite their vast differences) but, more importantly, because this film really could not have been made any earlier. I wasn't a big fan of CGI when the technology emerged; I thought it took away from the purity of the medium and, of course, it was oftentimes obviously not real in those early days. When you watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, though, you see the undeniable magic that CGI has now opened up. This film is heavy with computer animation, and its integration with real actors and sets is virtually seamless. Aslan, by way of example, may well be CGI's highest achievement to date. For one thing, he looks bloody real in every scene, but what is truly amazing is the depth of feeling and emotion that comes through in his face and gestures, particularly during the scene at the Stone Slab.
There's really far more to praise about this film than I have time or room for. I'll just say the cinematography and music are masterful, and the creation of the different creatures (be they computer-generated or wonders of costuming) are incredibly detailed and realistic. I just want to hurry up and talk about the children playing the Pevensie siblings. Do they give awards for best casting? If they don't, they certainly should, and this film would take that prize hands-down. They boys (William Moseley as Peter and Skandar Keynes as Edmund) are excellent, but the girls are nothing short of perfect. There's just something about Anna Popplewell (Susan) that I find blissfully charming. Her character is basically the smart and careful one of the bunch, and Popplewell just radiates nobility and a maturity beyond her years. Young Georgie Henley, though, takes the proverbial cake as little Lucy. I tend to think of this story as Lucy's for the most part. It is she who first takes us into Narnia, and we see that enchanted land primarily through her eyes. Aslan is the central character, but Lucy is really the audience's link to everything that happens. I think you can experience Narnia just by watching Lucy - the childish wonder, the joy of the land's magic, and the heart-breaking sadness of the White Witch's most evil deeds. If you listen to the children's commentary on the DVD, though, you'll be even more impressed with these kids. Georgie is the quintessential child, a fountain of unbridled energy and unabashed honesty, but she also asks the director some incredibly insightful questions about some of his directorial decisions. All of these kids are smart as a whip, but that Georgie truly is something special.
I'm assuming you already know the story here, so I won't go into plot details. What makes the story resonate so deeply is the myriad of interpretations you can take away from it. Clearly, there's a strong Christian allegory at work here, primarily in terms of Aslan, the rightful king of Narnia, but you don't have to view the story in that way at all - although the moral implications of this classic contest between good and evil are obvious and beneficial to all. Your interpretation, in fact, may very well change with each viewing. Children can just enjoy it as an adventure with talking animals, but as they come back to the film over time they will begin to pick up on the deeper meanings of the story. This is one of those rare films that gets better and better with each viewing.
You have to love the bonus features on the two-disc collector's edition. We're talking hours and hours of behind-the-scenes footage and insights into the whole Narnia experience (and a few bloopers). I really love the Kids and Director Commentary, and I would heartily encourage you to watch that. Filmmaker commentary (and there's one of those here, as well) tend to be rather boring. I got more out of the Kids Commentary than I would normally get out of ten filmmaker commentaries. You also have the option of watching the film with interesting facts about Narnia popping up from time to time. If you really want to know how in the world this incredible movie was brought to life, you'll relish Disc 2 and its hours of interviews and film prep featurettes on the casting, design, costuming, creature-making, etc. You can also find really nice information on the different creatures you'll meet in Narnia - and you can even explore Narnia's most important locations and hear a little more about what happens in Narnia after the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ends. The Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition of this movie is truly the complete package - and a must for Narnia fans.
Young Lucy Pevenise, along with her older brothers Edmund and Peter, and her older sister, Susan, are in London during the initial bombing raids of WW II. And like many families of the time, the parents decide to send them to the country for safer keeping. Peter, the oldest, is told by their mother to "watch over them" and make sure they stay safe. And although this seems like a fairly simple request, Peter's ability to protect his siblings will be put to the ultimate test. But not by WW II, but by an amazing secret discovered by young Lucy.
Soon after being spirited into the company of a hermit-like professor's care (Jim Broadbent), they decide to play hide-and-seek, and it's during this game which Lucy discovers a mysterious wardrobe. She tucks herself inside and backs to the rear of the cabinet ...only to discover herself in an entirely different world. Here she meets up with Mr. Tumnus, a strange half-stag, half-human creature who explains much about the wintry landscape Lucy now finds herself in. The place is called Narnia, and it's been locked in winter for over 100 years by someone known as "The White Witch" (who claims to be the Queen of Narnia).
Lucy, excited beyond words, rushes back to "the real world" to tell her brothers and sister about what she's discovered and, of course, they don't believe her ...until they all get into the wardrobe one day and find out she's been telling the truth.
Soon a prophecy is revealed to the two brothers and two sisters: it is said that when Aslan returns, two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam will come back and reclaim the four thrones of Narnia. But first they have to battle The White Witch, struggle with the internal dynamics of sibling rivalries, and face the death of the very creature who helped create this strange world.
Comparisons abound between NARNIA and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. And why not. Both are fantasy tales. Both authors (Lewis and Tolkien) were friends during the same era. And both stories have recently made it to the silver screen. And although my heart still rests with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, NARNIA deserves much praise.
But this praise doesn't necessarily come from me...
I went to the theater today (a weekend) and it was packed with children (ranging in age from their teens to five years old), and while watching it I noticed something intriguing: not a single interruption occurred during the entire 140 minutes. No crying child asking to go home; no temper tantrums; no shushing of mothers and fathers to their kids. I think this speaks pretty highly of how engaged this film kept its intended audience. I will say that when Aslan became "injured" there were gasps of dismay from a couple of kids behind me and they quietly asked their mother if "Aslan was going to be okay" (I have to admit, that was pretty cute).
Georgie Henley (Lucy) was exquisite as one of the prime characters (move over Dakota Fanning). Her acting was spot-on and brought a lump to my throat several times. Liam Neeson's Aslan voice was also perfect with its deep resonance that seemed to echo through the theater (must've been a good sound recording). Tilda Swinton was also excellent as the sinister White Witch who rules Narnia with a cold, iron fist. And James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus was also pulled off very well.
There've been several reviews (professional) that have been critical of the film's Christian-based theological leanings. Well ...yes. That's true. It does have that, but so did C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles novels. So did this bother me? Not at all. I don't prescribe to any particular faith, and if you go into NARNIA with an anti-religious chip on your shoulder, I'm sure you could rip the film apart. But if you go into the theater strictly to enjoy good storytelling and for entertainment, you'll probably delight in NARNIA just as much as the ten-year-old who sat behind me quietly throughout the entire movie.
on December 10, 2005
I just went to see this movie last night and WOW, it is really breathtaking and superbly done. The most important thing that was achieved is that the producers of this film captured the essence of Narnia. You really feel like you've been to Narnia and to me that makes the film tremendously powerful. The death and resurrection of Aslan were really fantastic, and I also especially liked the Lucy/Tumnus meeting and also when the children grew up in Narnia and were looking for the White Stag. How did they get adult actors who looked SO much like the children, I'd like to know?! Well done! Georgie Henley was terrific in this movie and really stole the show. She was the perfect Lucy. The casting for this film was really well done. The only character I did not care for was The White Witch. In other movie versions, perhaps the role is "over-played" and so because of that the role seemed to be "under-played" in this case. I don't know if a happy medium exists to be truthful. The producers did maintain the Christian symbolism, that C.S. Lewis called "a supposal" not an allegory, but this was not overly obvious. The film certainly can be appreciated in different ways.
Some of the minor changes to the storyline and dialogue did irritate me, just because I know the novel SO well. I would have liked more of Lewis' humour to be maintained instead of the humour that was added by the screenwriters. Most noticeably is the absence of the development of Mrs. Beaver with her cute statements about the bread knife & sewing machine. They also removed the scene in which the animals were having a party with food & drink given to them by Father Christmas - you know the part where the witch turns them into stone. Instead they developed the fox character and used him alone in this altered scenerio. I felt some of the dialogue & scene changes were a little unnecessary from a purist's perspective. Some of the scenes also seemed rushed to me and I would have liked to see the hideout "for beavers in bad times". I know, they had a time limit and actually the movie is over 2 hours which is longer than most movies. What they did with the time they had was really really well done. Hopefully we'll get some of these "deleted scenes" on the dvd.
As someone else mentioned, there is a surprise 30 seconds into the credits that you will not want to miss.
Some parents have expressed concern about the violence quotient, but I went into the movie with a 7-year old in mind and I think it will be okay for MOST younger children. There are the battle scenes and they show one person being killed with an arrow. However, they never dwell long on the battle and no blood is shown. The other part that is disturbing is the part with Tumnus in the dungeon and the implication is that he was tortured. That was rather upsetting and of course Aslan being killed was also very scary. But, they have presented these tastefully & sensitively. Actually the previews for other Disney films were more scary than the main attraction! :-)
My overall impression - EXCELLENT and I hope they make all 7 books into movies.
on March 14, 2006
For those who love the Narnia Chronicles, written by one of the twentieth century's finest writers, C.S. Lewis, the story of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe needs no introduction. Rather than belabour the plot, I would like to focus purely upon this film in terms of the elements that make it so appealing.
First of all, the story itself is a wonderful one. C.S. Lewis was one of those writers who wrote genuinely ORIGINAL stories. Of course he incorporated existing story elements, but he did not rely solely upon them. Running through his stories at all times is the magical gold thread of intelligent creativity. (His turn of phrase is wonderful, both in his fiction and non-fiction.) The director has been remarkably scrupulous in keeping to the text, particularly in comparison with film versions of other books.
Secondly, the characters are not one-dimensional. The four children, as presented both in the book and in the film, are beautifully fleshed out as real and imperfect beings, but one cannot help delighting in them. Even Edmund, whose greed blinds him to the selfishness of his choice to betray his brother and sisters to the White Witch, is a sympathetic character as he develops and as he is faced with the consequences of what he has done.
Thirdly, the acting in this film is frankly superb. Tilda Swinton is marvellously well controlled in her portrayal of the White Witch. This is a role that would be so terribly easy to overdo, but Ms Swinton knows full well the remarkable effectiveness of subtlety. My two adorable little nieces were utterly impressed by her - evidence that children are not blind to subtle and superb acting. The children were excellently played - what a treat to see that there do exist children who CAN act. In particular, the role of Lucy was extraordinarily effective, but Peter was extremely well played, Edmund was superb in his sullenness and later his true sorrow, and Susan was charming as a girl trying to be sensible, taking too much responsibility upon herself and feeling the pressure of her care for others. And Mr Tumnus the fawn! Wonderfully done! Also magnificent is Liam Neelson's voicing of Aslan, the Lion himself. The smaller roles (the wonderfully portrayed beavers, the fox, the wolves, Father Christmas, the Professor, etc.) are all excellently done; I can only give praise.
Fourthly, the battle scenes are extremely well choreographed. They convey a sense of the realness of what is at stake, rather than prettying up the whole business.
Fifthly, magnificent cinematography. It is truly beautiful to watch (even though I do feel the snow looks a little fake... but in all honesty, this is a very minor consideration).
Sixthly, extremely good special effects. I remain amazed by the image of the fawn, by the centaurs, by the Lion, by all the creatures.
This is quite a long film, but I did not feel it was too long at all. It moved beautifully, and there were some very vivid moments, such as the dancing of the pipe by Mr Tumnus when he first decides to capture Lucy for the White Queen. Magical indeed is the effect - the feeling of drowsiness, the wonderful and strange music, the dancing flames.
There are a few things which I'd have liked to see improved. Firstly, there were some musical elements which I feel did not work. For instance, the opening theme - very Celtic, very breath-in-the-voice singing - seemed to me to have absolutely nothing to do with this film.
Secondly, the director seemed not to care that British children of this class and this period did not give each other soap-opera hugs. Once or twice would have been perfectly adequate for such hugs in the film, to express extraordinary situations. But there were too many of these hugs, when a stiff upper lip and a carefully directed sense of "I feel more than I choose to show, because it simply isn't done" would have been so much more effective. I'd have ditched the last two hugs at least - or ditched the earlier two and kept the last one.
But really, these are minor quibbles. I was enchanted with the film, and I hope to see more of the Narnia Chronicles make it to the screen, done as well as this one.
One more thing: I'm puzzled as to why the editorial review above could mention (presumably in all seriousness) the superiority of the Harry Potter influence. None of the Harry Potter films are graced with such fine acting in the children's parts as is this film; none of the Harry Potter films feature originality to anywhere near the same extent as this film (understandably - Rowling is a competent writer, whereas C. S. Lewis is a great writer); and finally the extremely well-marketed Harry Potter phenomenon is irrelevant with regards to this film.
Enjoy this film. I was charmed by it at the cinema, and I shall have no hesitation is purchasing this DVD set as soon as it's released.
on February 15, 2006
I have been reading these books since I was in college, and I think I've seen every attempt at dramatizing "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" that's ever been created. This one left them all in the dust.
It had a similar effect on me as the first installment of "Lord of the Rings," and the first shot of Lantern Waste has me in tears much as the first shot of Rivendell did. Both had kind of a "Yes! That's it!" quality, as if everything I'd ever envisioned was being brought to life. However, where Peter Jackson eventually went completely nuts with the plot, in effect writing his own story and saying Tolkien did it WRONG, this film has interpolations I did not find particularly intrusive. The basic plot remained intact, and the whole film conveyed a sense of bringing to life what CS Lewis actually wrote. I was a little worried when I saw that Disney was producing this that they'd dumb it down, but the story remains essentially, beautifully intact.
I have to add that CS Lewis is my all-time favorite Christian theologian. I feel that the reviews that have said this is anti-Bible or pro-witchcraft or whatever really need to be taking issue with CS Lewis' writings rather than the movie because the movie is presenting them very faithfully. The good lion Aslan, son of the Great Emperor Over the Sea, gives his own innocent life for the life of a traitor and is subsequently reborn. "The rules" for this sort of thing antedate the beginning of recorded history. If you're a Christian, what is there to take issue with here? If you're a fantasy enthusiast, could you find a better parable or allegory for sin and redemption? Despite its few dramatic departures, this was a wonderful realization of CS Lewis' book, and I hope and pray that they continue with the rest of the series!
on March 12, 2006
With respect, some of the reviews here are almost as long as the movie itself, so I'll try to keep this short.
I was a little concerned before going to see this movie as I have been terribly disappointed in most of what Disney has turned out over the last few decades. The storyline was mostly true to the book and the casting was almost perfect (Lucy being perfect, the White Witch was a bit iffy).
The best thing of all though, is not something IN the movie, but something that was left out! The ubiquitous and awful Disney songs that have plagued their movies (even the good ones)all these years. To whomever fought to keep them out, I thank you!
Some may think the movie a little violent for children, but the books are actually more graphic in this respect and besides, we who grew up on a diet of WWII, Cowboys and Indians and even Tom and Jerry all turned out OK.
I have the movie pre ordered and will have no hesitation letting my 3 and 5 year olds watch it.
on November 28, 2006
Allow me to approach this review in this way, which is as question and answers.
IS THE MOVIE FAITHFUL TO THE BOOK? Reviewers and viewers answer the question differently. In a sense, both are right. The movie is faithful to the book as far as basic plot, characters, and atmosphere. There are changes made that are not in the book, but these changes are usually for the purpose of a) helping the viewer understand the historic setting, such as the movie's beginning, or b) adding to the entertainment value of the movie, adding humor (e.g. the beavers) or suspense (I don't remember the children riding a piece of ice in the original, though it has been well over 25 years since I read the book).
IS THE MOVIE SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN? If and only if a parent accompanies them. This movie lives up to the PG rating. Other reviewers pointed out there is plenty of scariness in the movie, especially the battle scene. But I don't think there is anything that would be overly traumatic if the child is accompanied by the parent. (By the way, I believe that the parent should be with the child in viewing any movie or any TV show.)
IS THE MOVIE A "CHRISTIAN MOVIE"? Disney making a Christian movie? Seriously, there are themes that a Christian would recognize in the movie, which would need to be there to be faithful to the book. These allusions are such that a non-Christian would miss them, without losing appreciation for the story. This is not like "The Passion." However, a Christian can use the film in witnessing to unbelievers, pointing out the parallels between Aslan and Jesus.
Allow me to make a few other comments. I think Tilda Swinson did a good job with the character. One reviewer used the term underplayed. In some stories, the villain is more interesting, memorable, and maybe even likeable than the hero, and Swinson's performance keeps this from happening. I also loved the beavers.
I am looking forward to the release of Prince Caspian, the next of the series. If it is half as good as this movie, it would be very good.
For several years, fantasy films were MIA, except the occasional hack job.
Then "Lord of the Rings" came and went, leaving some pretty big shoes to fill, as far as fantasy films go. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" doesn't quite fit the shoes, but it comes a lot closer than any other movie has.
In Andrew Adamson's adaptation, C.S. Lewis's classic fantasy novel comes alive with remarkable fidelity, sparkling special effects, and some truly excellent acting by almost everyone concerned. If "Lord of the Rings" was stern older brother Peter, then this movie is Lucy -- bright, swift and thoroughly charming.
With WW II raging, the four Pevensie children are sent to the countryside, at an eccentric professor's mansion. But during a game of hide-and-seek, little Lucy (Georgie Henley) hides inside a wardrobe -- and stumbles into a wintry wilderness, with a faun she befriends. Alas, her brothers and sisters don't believe her -- but they don't know that Edmund (Skandar Keynes) has also gone through, and befriended a sinister, beautiful Witch (Tilda Swinton).
Eventually all four end up going through the wardrobe, but but they soon find that the Witch is hunting for them, in fear that they will fulfil an ancient prophecy. But Edmund has run off to join the Witch. And so the remaining three must join up with Aslan (Liam Neeson), the leonine god-king of Narnia. But the price for victory against the Witch may be too high.
Since "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" is labelled both a kids' book and a Christian fantasy, it's easy to get put off by the description of it. Don't be. Director Andrew Adamson ("Shrek" and "Shrek 2") has obviously given this his whole heart and soul, and it has the right mixture of majesty and humor that a film like this needed.
And Adamson does a spectacular job. The the taut race across a frozen river, the bombing of London, tea with the faun Tumnus, and even the cameo by Father Christmas (who gets a medieval makeover) -- all of these come to life with remarkable skill and grace, but with respect for its audience's intelligence. The make-or-break scene is Aslan stalking to the stone table, and the horrifying sacrifice scene that follows does justice to Lewis' novel.
But Adamson doesn't let it get overinflated on its own ego. When Edmund tells his horse, "Whoa, boy!" it retorts peevishly, "My NAME is Philip!"; elsewhere, the beavers snipe at each other like an old married couple. Those moments of lightness -- and giving Aslan a sense of humor -- keep the film from seeming self-conscious.
And of course, the special effects. WETA workship deserves an award (it's been nominated for a few) for the amazing CGI, ranging from goat-legged Tumnus to the lion Aslan, who looks almost real. They are especially good in battle scenes, which are startlingly savage and brutal, but filled with outstanding moments, such as a centaur leaping over the Witch and nearly beheading her.
Young Georgie Henley is probably the most capable actress here, conveying misery, awe, delight, childish glee and sorrow. All this from a small child, when a lot of adult actors can't manage that much. Skandar Keynes and Anna Popplewell turn in good performances as Edmund and Susan. Swinton and William Moseley (Peter) start off rather woodenly, but they both blossom when the four arrive in Narnia.
Though Lewis was reportedly against a live-action adaptation of the Chronicles, it's hard to imagine him having a problem with this rapid-fire, sparkling adaptation. (And stay for the credits for an extra surprise...)
on December 7, 2005
THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD
With the movie release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" on December 9th, based upon the Christian classics by the late Christian scholar and literary genius C.S. Lewis, the world will see one of the most fascinating stories made into film. What the average movie goer won't know is WHY Lewis wrote the original book: (1) to describe what God was like (via the character of Aslan, who is a picture of the "Lion of Judah" [Revelation 5:5] or Jesus Christ] and (2) to convey in illustrative form of the salvation story of Jesus--that Jesus Christ (Aslan) was willing to die in our place because we (like Edmund) were in bondage to sin (Turkish Delight) and evil (White Witch).
Initiated by a dream that Lewis had at 16 years old, The Lion, Witch, and The Wardrobe built the cornerstone of a seven-book fantasy that has sold 90 million copies over 55 years, establishing itself as one of the most beloved works of Christian fiction of all time. This initial volume follows the journey of the four Pevensie siblings--Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter. Set in World War II England, the children enter the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of 'hide-and-seek' in the rural country home of an elderly professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has become a world cursed to eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis.
Under the guidance of a noble and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, the children fight to overcome the White Witch's powerful hold over Narnia in a spectacular, climactic battle, with its central figure, Aslan, the victorious lion who represents Christ--the Lion of Judah, who dies and resurrects just as in the Gospels. Moreover, Aslan, like Christ, voluntarily steps in to take the punishment due to one of the 'sons of Adam'. The children, like the Disciples, are initially grief stricken by Aslan's death but then overjoyed by his return, and then join him to fight against the White Witch and her evil allies. (Of course, there are many other links between the book and the Christian faith.)
A GREAT MOVIE THAT IS TRUE TO ITS ORIGINAL BOOK-AND "THE BOOK"
Well, Walden Media and Walt Disney Studios have now turned this novel of the Christian Gospel into a $150 million movie that will reintroduce "The Chronicles of Narnia" to a whole new generation of children and their parents in a "Lord-of-the-Ring" type movie format. And this initial Narnian theatrical adventure is expected to be followed in coming years with the following six-volumes being made into movies. (You can see an actual theatrical trailer of this first movie and see more about the making of the movie by going to [...]
I must admit I was skeptical at first to have Disney partnering with Walden in making this movie; it is not like they are known for being a bastion of conservative Christianity! As Christianity Magazine (Oct 2005) conveyed,
The film has been made by Walden Films, which has a good track record of creating family-friendly movies. The decision by Disney to partner with Walden and distribute this film was initially not welcomed by Christian culture watchers in the US who warned that Disney might want to water down the Christian symbolism. Disney have always denied this intent and [so included] the input of Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C.S. Lewis, who is a co-producer [and] has helped reassure wary Christians. "I am a committed Christian and I am very happy with the script," Gresham confirmed."
Gresham, serving as co-producer, became the spiritual watchdog and conscience of the movie project, assuring that the movie version kept true and accurate to his stepfather's originals.
As a Christian and Pastor, my concerns were further quenched when other national Christian leaders affirmed the value of the movie. "We believe that God will speak the gospel of Jesus Christ through this film,' said Lon Allison, director of the Billy Graham Centre at Wheaton College in Illinois. Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals, also said that the film was an ideal way for a Christian message to be brought to people who would not otherwise go near a church. "Here is yet another tool that many may find to be effective in communicating the message of Jesus to those who may not respond to other presentations," he said.
MY PERSONAL RESPONSE TO THE MOVIE...WOW!
Having personally seen the movie, I can tell you it is nothing short of almost EVERYTHING C.S. Lewis intended it to convey. I cannot encourage you enough to see this movie, then read one of the many books that explain how God and Jesus are explained via The Chronicles of Narnia (like "Knowing Aslan" or many other books one can get from Amazon.com-including "The Bible"). I am so impressed by this movie (and the original book) that at our Christmas Eve Services (where I pastor at Lake Almanor Community Church in northern California), I will be using the movie to help me answer the question, "What If There Were No Christmas?" Before Aslan comes, Narnia is in perpetual winter without hope. Before Christ came, our world was lost in sin and without hope. In addition to our sanctuary's normal Christmas décor, the stage will be flocked with snow to represent a winter landscape, like Narnia, with a lamppost and a wardrobe, out of which people exit into the winter pines! As of Sunday, January 9th, I will also begin a Sunday Series through the Gospels, studying the life and nature of Jesus Christ. It will be titled, "In The Lair Of The Lion Of Judah," and will take us through a chronological gallop of the Gospels. One can obtain the CD's of those messages or read more about Narnia at our Church web site: lacconline.org)
FROM ATHEIST TO CHRISTIAN SCHOLAR: C.S. LEWIS' SPIRITUAL JOURNEY
One last thing to help you enjoy the movie. Remember that C.S. Lewis' (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) spiritual journey traveled from the extremes of an avowed and antagonistic atheist to a devoted defender and scholar of the Christian faith. His Christian journey can be read in his book, "Surprised By Joy," and his rational defense of the Christian faith (which was originally given in a series of BBC radio programs during WW2) can be read in his book, "Mere Christianity."
After Lewis's mother died of cancer when he was only eight years old (about 1908), his father sent him off to a boarding school. On October 12, 1916, Lewis penned his position in a letter to Arthur Greeves: "I think that I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity is not even the best. All religions, i.e., all mythologies...are merely man's own invention-Christ as much as Loki. In every age the educated and thinking [people] have stood outside [religion]."
Although an atheist until he was roughly 30 years of age, Lewis began investigating the claims of Christianity during the twenties. On December 21, 1929, Lewis-upon reading John Bunyan's Grace Abounding-wrote: "I...am still finding more and more the element of truth in the old beliefs [that] I feel I cannot dismiss... There must be something in it; only what?" In this pre-conversion period Lewis wrote: "I felt as if I were a man of snow at long last beginning to melt." As a result, in 1929 Lewis was converted to theism. He journaled of that experience: "I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed; perhaps, that night the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England," but this conversion "was only to Theism. I knew nothing about the Incarnation [or that Jesus was God in human flesh]."
In 1931, influenced by his friend J.R.R. Tolkien ("Lord Of The Rings"), he became a Christian and a member of the Church of England. On September 28, 1931, at age thirty-two, Lewis was "riding to the Whipsnade zoo in the sidecar of Warren's motorcycle. `When we set out I did not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and when we reached the zoo I did.'" According to 1 John 5:1 and 5, all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are "born of God." To Arthur Greeves on October 1, 1931, Lewis wrote: "I have just passed from believing in God to definitely believing in Christ-in Christianity."
Although he became an Anglican, he stated that he was influenced by his Roman Catholic friend Tolkien. He was very much interested in presenting a reasonable case for the truth of Christianity, which he did in a series of BBC radio broadcasts, which were developed into his work, "Mere Christianity," in which he states the following: "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: `I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." [CS Lewis, Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 3, The Shocking Alternative]
It only took C.S. Lewis three months to write "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe," and he had only one critic, his close friend, JRR Tolkien, who hated it: "It really won't do," he protested. "Doesn't he know what he's talking about?" (Perhaps the fact that he was still working on The Lord of the Rings after a decade while Lewis knocked off The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in less than three months had a little to do with it.) Yet the Chronicles went on to sell over 85 million copies over the last 50 years!
As the BBC news reported, "There can also be few children's books that contain so much theology as the Narnia stories. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is about atonement and resurrection, divine self-sacrifice and redemption. That might sound a bit much for a children's story, and something for parents rather than their audience to pick up on. But not necessarily.
"Lewis's idea was not to write an allegory for clever readers to decode, where Aslan represents Christ. Rather, Aslan is Christ, coming to the world of talking animals as a lion, just as he came to earth as a human. Lewis found children better at understanding this than adults.
"He was not concerned with teaching children the Christian story in disguise, as he expected them to know it already. Rather he wanted them to feel it. As a child himself, he knew the story of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and knew it was meant to be important, but he had never felt its importance. If he could retell it in terms of a fairy story, it might make sense to children and they might grasp the nobility, tragedy and power of it."
LISTEN AND LOOK FOR THE SPIRITUAL STORY BEHIND THE ILLUSTRATIVE ADVENTURE OF NARNIA...
Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again. (ch. 8)
"But what does it all mean?" asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer. - "It means," said Aslan, "that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards." (ch. 15 of "The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe")
Bottom line, see the movie! Then read The Book ("The Bible").
on December 18, 2006
I saw "Chronicles of Narnia" in the theater and thought it a grand old adaptation. Yes, there were tweaks and changes, but, and this is hard for me to say as a reader as well as a film buff, one has to give up purity when you're taking a story from one media and adapting it to the strengths of another. Also, when a trait from the story is hyped to the point of hysteria (namely references to Christendom), the end product can make a person scratch their heads in wonder what all the fuss was about. In short, just like "The Lord of the Ring," it's a miracle if the movie adaptation actually lives up to both the press and its source material.
Live up to it it did. Disney's co-production is a splendor to behold. Excellent storytelling, fabulous cinematography, talented casting, and marvellous special effects team up to do the necessary job in bringing this great book to life. Not an easy thing, especially when you see the BBC television adaptation and the good job THEY did with less than a tenth of this budget. Purists (I am one) will pick at this or that. Christian entertainment observers will harp on one lack of Christ-mentioning or another. No matter - this is THE version of the book that will last forever (even though I hope the BBC's magnificent series will rate up there with it).
Now, we get to my pet peeve - extended editions with every film.
As a filmie, I say the more stuff, the better. I love to see the details of a movie's creation. Moreso when I adore the movie. The two-disc original release did a good (not great) job covering how the movie was made which hinted rather darkly that Disney was going to follow "The Lord of the Rings" in this troubling new trend of putting out a new "director's extended version" every time there is yet another scrap of new footage found and used as a retooling excuse. Hence, this. I bought it (like a cheap hooker, I criticize the trend while engaging in propagating it) and liked the new stuff included in the battle sequences, but it beggers the question; did we NEED a whole new release for it? I enjoyed the movie euqally without it, and while Disney made a value-added addition of extra making-of and historical materials, I can't seem to justify this extra spending. Even WITH the rebate offer!
Soooo...if you haven't bought it, buy this version, even with the differences, it's still the same great movie. If you have it already, well, the decision is yours. I certainly wouldn't have if it didn't give us all this extras goodness, and still feel somewhat....used...now that I bought into the temptation.