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December 10, 2005


Victor Morton

I didn't think that was THAT heated an exchange -- it's pretty much the standard when clash happens between film critics with strongly divergent views of a film, but the same fundamental worldview.

BTW, Barbara is right about the LOTR movies.


I am an equal opportunity model of indifference when it comes to fantasy novels/movies--whether it's Lewis, Tolkien, Rowling. I didn't get into that stuff when I was a kid. I don't begrudge anybody who does. But I sigh when someone asks me to do it now, at age 50. I'm going to roll over on the couch if my wife asks me to go to Narnia, or else suggest "Pride and Prejudice" in its place.

Not to steer the ship too far in another direction, but if you wish to see a Hollywood picture that delivers an authentic Christian message, go to the video store and rent "On the Waterfront."

The message? "I am my brother's keeper."


I agree that restoration is the theme of film LWW. The offing of the White Witch by Aslan was a real downer. Same old same old: guy in white hat blasts black hat wearer and audience gets self-righteous jolt of catharsis .. except audience in this case sees Aslan do it from the witch's pov.

Still, I give it an up thumb since the restoration I feel immense nostalgia for is merrie Catholic England, Mary's Dowry.

The Father Christmas alone made the movie worth it.

mom of 4

I have to agree with most of the comments here. I loved taking my 8 and 10 year olds to it. The simply loved it. They have read all the Narnia books (before all the hype) and were a little disapointed with some of the liberties taken but all in all they can't wait to see it again.
I too was left with a little question of why? I asked my kids if they thought someone who had not read the books would "get it". They both agreed that they did not think so.
Overall a thumbs up but with some hesitation.


I found Peter Chattaway's comment raised the most interesting and robust practical individual principle for Christian entertainment:

I phrase it as Does it foster in me an increased ripeness for worship and virtue?

I haven't seen the films under discussion, but individually I can remember the usual Brideshead and Pride and Prejudice (Ehle) experiences, and Dersu Uzala by Kurosawa.

Barbara Nicolosi's student seemed to have a good grasp of principles by which to create and evaluate film narrative. I'm not encouraged to see the Narnia films right away, not least by the wearying "tol'j'a so & proves we're right!" Christian marketing enthusiasm.



Thought the movie was Okay. They really missed out on the Turkish Delight issue. The entire them of Sin was Lost. Edmond didn't seem like he had motivation to do what he did.



For my money, both Jackson and Adamson made some remarkably bad mistakes with their adaptations.

The one they shared was "bad fanfic". I expect seventh grade kids to write sad scenes about beloved characters falling in the river, and I expect them not to have intelligent characters act with no shred of intelligence. I do not expect this from screenwriters who are adapting books that don't have those flaws.

Still, the stupid action scenes did have one good effect -- they made one scene from the book a lot scarier. Kudos on that!

Both also waste a lot of time on "reluctant hero" arcs for characters that aren't reluctant. Aragorn isn't Frodo; he's a man who's been working to become king of Gondor as well as of the Dunedain for longer than most of us have been alive. If you have to bring WWII into it, then Peter should have been burning to be just a little older and get to fight back. In the book, you get the impression that while he's not thrilled about his sisters and younger brother getting involved, he's just as glad to be able to strike a blow and do something.

Post 9/11 kids could surely understand that. I know a lot of boys who are very proud to have dress-up soldier suits, and others who spend a lot more time at it than we did when we were young. (And I grew up in a military town.)

I was a bit worried about the swordplay. It didn't look all that great even after Peter got some training, and it really didn't reveal character very well. (Hey, kids do notice swordplay.) A sword is not a stick or a gun; you don't just point it at somebody. (I guess the kid who played Edmund had a little more aptitude, because I didn't worry so much about him poking himself.)

I also thought it was a flaw to show all the children with l33t skillz, with no explanation of the effects upon them of being in Narnia and breathing Narnian air. You don't really want to suggest knifethrowing to kids as young as Lucy without some sort of "not quite this easy here on Earth" warning.

Adamson did not, I think, really understand that LWW, in many ways, is a movie of the Resistance. I think WWII's Resistance fighters and good guy spies captured Lewis' imagination strongly, since he also used that as a metaphor for the fight against Satan and Christ's Incarnation. I kept wanting to urge the characters to be more cautious, to hide in the snow, to walk along the sides of things instead of right in the middle in plain sight. Characters in the movie didn't seem intelligent enough to survive under the White Witch, frankly, and that wasn't a flaw of the book. (If you did something stupid in the book, you got turned to stone.)

I agree about the de-statue effects. On the whole, the Witch's power was also underused. I agree with my brother, who said that there was absolutely no reason we shouldn't have had a battlefield shot along the Witch's wake showing nothing but a line of statues, including a few of her own servants who didn't get out of the way fast enough. That's what CGI's for, darn it.

I did really like Aslan's camp, though. I thought they did a good job with all the pavilions, the various creatures, and (great touch!) all the smiths a medieval army would need. The armor wasn't waaaaaay over the top like the LOTR armor, either.

On the whole, though, Jackson failed when he attempted too much, and Adamson failed when he attempted too little. I wanted to rein in Jackson, and to urge Adamson on.

Still, Adamson made me roll my eyes less and didn't threaten to drive me out of the theater at any time. (I seriously cannot bear some of Jackson's stupider scenes with Arwen and Elrond.) So a few reservations on a director's part seem healthy to me.

Although much of my emotion during the Narnia movie was from my feelings for the story rather than what was on screen, Adamson didn't stomp on those feelings the way Jackson did. My younger brother enjoyed the first Narnia movie, while he swore the instant he got out of The Fellowship of the Ring that he would never watch the rest of the film trilogy.

Indeed, we both enjoyed it. So I recommend it, on the whole.

But do read the book. It's better.


Our theologies themselves don't agree on the "why" and that with many written words. We went through this discussion with Mel's version of the Passion. Were Narnia to deliver an answer to the "why", there would be endless argument about the soteriology involved. Silence is more reverent here than trying to promote a particular theology of why.


Oh, and I agree about the Turkish Delight not being used to any good effect at all. A first year film student could have done that one. Even the worst adaptations on TV and stage have managed that one. It's a gimme.

Btw, if you're looking for Turkish Delight here in the States, you might have more luck looking for "lokum" (the Turkish name), "loukoumi" (the Greek version -- indistinguishable to me) or "Aplets", "Cotlets", and "Fruit Delights" (which are extremely similar).

alias clio

I liked FOTR well enough until the entrance of Elrond, but I thought that Jackson seemed to have conflated the concepts of "epic" and "big". No, not even big: humongous, gi-normous, and all those other portmanteau words that suggest hype and pretension. There were so few small moments in the films, and those there were, were too cute and too whimsical. Frodo was too young. Merry and Pippin were like stage Irishmen. Elrond was ridiculous.

I hope that the LWW is better than this. But all y'all are making me wonder.

One problem I see is that I believe Lewis's writing, taken paragraph by paragraph, is more textured and detailed than Tolkien's, and so even more difficult to capture on film. (And yes I know that Lewis's imaginary world was less finished, his vision less comprehensive, than JRRT's.) One of Lewis's great strengths, though, is his ability to convey the sensuous quality of experience, both pleasurable and painful. Susan's blistered heel; the eruption of Spring; the girls' exhaustion after crying all night over Aslan's death - these are the kind of thing that made the books so memorable to me. So often, as I lived out my life, I would find myself flashing back to those descriptions and thinking yes, this is what _that_ meant. But how can you capture any of that on film?

I think few people are responsive to such qualities in writing any more. Yet what is Lewis's work without it? He was at heart a Romantic, and a poet, which means the essence of his writerly concerns is the self in its responses to the sensual world. Remove that, and you may still have food, yes, but without flavour.


Caroline - that is not the "why" of which I am speaking. I am speaking, within the context of the work and the world Lewis created. In that context, the question is largely unanswered, and as one reviewer/commentor pointed out, the end effect is that one gets the impression that the 4 children are the saviors, not Aslan.

(Fr) Septimus

I liked The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, despite its flaws. It is what it is.

I agree with Whitcomb about On the Waterfront; I quoted extensively from the priest's dockside sermon in one of my Good Friday homilies.

willy cook

Our 6:30 p.m. showing in suburnan St. Louis was half full. The 7 p.m. was sold out. I never attend opening night, as I hate crowds, but was pleasantly surprised it was so empty. I still hope it does really well at the box office, to show producers family films can make money.


I had a very similar reaction to the movie. Thank you for expressing it so well!

Maria Ashwell

I loved the movie, my kids loved the movie. Though I must admit in large part it is because we have read the books (myself, repeatedly) and I think we "filled on the gaps" that many site as flaws and just had a really good time. It made me feel very young.
I also agree with alias clio's comments completely about Lewis' writing. How do you put on the screen his beautiful descriptions of the children's feelings as they here the name of Aslan?


Oh, please, please, please, please, please tell us about Mad Hot Ballroom!! I've been trying to rent a copy for ages, but our local movie rental place doesn't have it.

Maclin Horton

"Hyped out" speaks to my condition, fer shur. After all the wrangling over The Passion and LOTR, I feel disinclined to get into either the atheists vs. Christians battle over whether or not religion is evil or the intra-Christian debates over the merits of the films. I'm sure I'll end up seeing the movie. Maybe I'll even like it. But I can tell from what people are saying that it's going to be a mixed experience at best, because some of you are noting some of the same things that I really disliked in the Ring movies: in a word, Hollywoodization.

The Two Towers was on TV last night. I found myself thinking something along the lines of "What was all the excitement about?" There are some good things and some not so good but not too far down the line the movies seem to fade into insignificance compared to the book.


I just dropped an apropos of the snow comment in the thread.



I think a lot of people are going to be disappointed. They're apparently going the the theater expecting to have some sort of relgious experience and instead will get a pretty good movie.

Michael Kremer

Has anyone else here seen the BBC version from about 15 years ago? In spite of special effects at the level of Dr. Who, I thought that it was much more effective -- particularly at portraying things like the children's feelings when they hear that Aslan was on the move, also in sticking more faithfully to the book(s).

I agree with much of what has been said in criticism of the movie. Here are a few thoughts of my own.

I think that some who object to this movie are being set off by things that aren't in the book. In an earlier post Amy linked to an anti-Christian screed by Polly Toynbee occasioned by the movie. Some of her complaints make some sense to me as directed against the movie, but it seems she has never read the books, and can't tell the difference between them.

Toynbee wrote that

"...here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America - that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right."

My wife (who loves the books) had a similar reaction -- she thought that the movie came across as a pro-war movie, in fact in some ways distinctly pro-war-in-Iraq -- pro-intervention to free an oppressed people from a dictator, etc. The moments she reacted to are just not in the book (as she knows well, unlike Toynbee) -- the wolf Maugrim taunting Peter with "this isn't your war" for example, and the fox ally of the Beavers speaking of his allegiance to a "free Narnia."

The battle scene seems to glorify war in a way that Lewis's books do not, especially given the prominence it is given in the movie in comparison to the book (2 pages out of 189 in my copy). And why did there have to be birds dropping rock/bombs?

In the movie, Aslan is made to say "It is finished" after killing the Witch. I found this apparent Biblical reference jarring. These words would have been more appropriately said on the Stone Table.

It struck both of us when an ad for the National Guard was played before the movie, along with ads for various violent video games. Altogether, the military story seemed to me to overwhelm any kind of Christian message in the movie, and some of the best lines pointing to Aslan's similarity to Christ are left out -- for example that Aslan is the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, or the scene in which Aslan, having risen from the dead, reassures Susan that he is not a ghost.

In the end, much of the sheer joy I have felt in Lewis's book seems to be missing in the movie, replaced by fear, foreboding, and then, maybe, relief, but not much else. There is no romp with Aslan after he rises, and the comfort and plain happiness of the Beavers' house seems to go missing. At least so it seemed to me. To return to my opening question -- I felt all that much more plainly in the BBC version.

Fr. J

I still think one of the best "religious" movies of the year was Millions. It is out on dvd now. Despite some flaws it was a wonderful film.


Well, it beat taking the family to RENT for Eddie's birthday. ;)

To be honest, fantasy isn't a genre I'm particularly good with, so this was a good intro for me. We bought a new set of Narnia books for my husband for Father's day (to replace the worn out ones of his youth)...the movie made me less afraid to pick one up and give it a try.


I'm glad the film was made. Any film that hints at what is true is welcome by me.

That being said, the movie screamed Evangelical Protestant to me... and Protestant in ways that C.S. Lewis was not Protestant. The soteriology was flawed, the music was miserably "hip" and out of place, and the borrowing from The Passion (we must start the film with a blue filter and clouds, we must have that wailing woman in the soundtrack)... really indicated that people missed what was successful about The Passion.

I have to say that I would have rather seen the story told by pagans than by Evangelical Protestants... not because they aren't good, virtuous, resourceful, talented people, but because they have a ppor sense of narrative and a really truncated/dualistic view of grace and transcendence. In many ways, this movie was to The Passion what an Evangelical Free service is to the Mass of the Last Supper.

But now I am splitting hairs. Especially living in Los Angeles, I need to remember that anyone who loves the truth deserves my support.

I'll rant more on my own blog about the movie... but not until opening weekend is over. There was much to enjoy and praise. I just was troubled by how much better it could have been. But until Catholics get their spiritual and artistic act together, we can't expect much more than this.

Donald R. McClarey

"My wife (who loves the books) had a similar reaction -- she thought that the movie came across as a pro-war movie, in fact in some ways distinctly pro-war-in-Iraq -- pro-intervention to free an oppressed people from a dictator, etc. The moments she reacted to are just not in the book (as she knows well, unlike Toynbee) -- the wolf Maugrim taunting Peter with "this isn't your war" for example, and the fox ally of the Beavers speaking of his allegiance to a "free Narnia.""

Yet more reasons for me to love the film!

Just got back from seeing it. Excellent movie for kids, although adults might be a tad bit bored. Those expecting a Lord of the Rings blockbuster will be disappointed, but it still is miles ahead of what usually passes for entertainment in most movies. I thought the kid actors were great. I loved Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the comedic interplay between them added some very necessary "lightening" to a fairly serious movie. The White Witch was over the top and reminded me of a cross between Bride of Frankenstein and Cruella de Ville, but when you are playing a character called the White Witch who is a stand-in for Satan, I guess subtlety flies right out the wardrobe.

Tom Haessler

I saw LWW yesterday. While I enjoyed it, for me it was a B film. I love the books, but I was not as deeply moved as I was with many other recent films. I attended the movie with a brother. I had urged him to see THERESE with his teens (on the basis of all the hype) some time back. BIG MISTAKE which I realized only after seeing the film myself. His kids were bored and my reputation as a movie critic was damaged forever! LOL I'm glad we have critics like Stephen Greydanus. I agreed completely with his review.

If someone wants to make a film about a religious subject that would really grab people today, how about one about Franz Jaeggerstetter, the Austrian farmer who was NOT a pacifist, but resisted Hitler's wars on the grounds of the just war theory. He was refused Communion for a while while in prison because the chaplain believed that he had no right to oppose Hitler since the bishops had not condemned the war! His wife begged him to think of the children. He was abandoned by all. The chaplain relented the day before his execution on the grounds that he was "invincibly ignorant" of his duty to fight for the Fatherland. His cause is now up for canonization.

Tom Haessler

Dave Wells

Saw the movie today, and like many others, I was slightly disappointed. My two young boys seemed to enjoy it - and children, after all, are the only critics who matter.

We seem to forget that these books are not written for adults, primarily. They are written for children, to spark their imaginations. True, the books do a far greater job of that - what book doesn't?

The power of Lewis' Narnia and Tolkien's LOTR (and even Harry Potter) lies in this: they create an "alternate world" for children, a world in which spiritual/magical powers are real, and good and evil battle. This world is so far removed from the empirical, scientific, materialistic, relativistic world in which children inhabit.

Lewis was converted to Christianity because it was just like all the ancient myths he loved: only it was REAL. His imagination had already been captured by the power of the ancient myths. But children today are not well-prepared to receive the message of the Gospel because they see no ancient prophecies fulfilled (as found in the Old Testament) and they no longer know the ancient stories of dying and rising gods born of virgin mothers. Perhaps these movies will awaken a desire in children to explore these worlds and stories again, in the book. Then they will be better prepared for the REAL story found in the Book.

Old Zhou

So the wife and I went to see Narnia, the 11:15am showing, at our a new 14 screen digital display, THX megacomplex in the regional shopping center. Fairly full for 11:15am (with ticket 6.50 each, regardless of age).

I was not really impressed. Seemed like a cross between "Peter Pan" and "Lord of the Rings."

The scenes near the end with Aslan walking away on the beach reminded me of Kwai Chang Caine in "Kung Fu" from the 1970's. Was this a Buddhist movie, where the hero practices non-attachment?

The many children in the cinema actually burst out laughing when the older sister finally shot an arrow and killed the dwarf about to axe her injured brother. Why did they laugh?

The few minutes of "15 years later" was really disconnected.

The character I related to the most was Mr. Beaver. Mr. & Mrs. Beaver were the only married couple in the film that seemed to have a real, living relationship (the kids father could be dead in the war, for all we know). No Mrs. Professor. No Mr. White Witch. Is this movie anti-married life? Lots of kings and queens, but no weddings?

Most disturbing, in this "good" suburban cinema, full of kids, I found an unfurled condom on the cinema floor as we left, and it was not there when we arrived. Huh? Was this just something that some Edmund-like teenager did to get attention? Strange.

Overall, I'm not looking forward to any more Narnia films.


"Mr. & Mrs. Beaver were the only married couple in the film that seemed to have a real, living relationship (the kids father could be dead in the war, for all we know). No Mrs. Professor. No Mr. White Witch. Is this movie anti-married life? Lots of kings and queens, but no weddings?"

I think this criticism of the movie is very over the top. I understand people not liking LWW for whatever reason (though I loved it!) but this is just too much. LWW is no mor 'anti-married life' any more than the books themselves are.


One simply can't go to a movie based on a great book and expect the movie to be as good as the book. I think some people have set the bar just a wee bit too high. I thought the movie was great! Was it as good as the book? No, but didn't expect it to be. My wife, who teaches a semester on Lewis and Tolkien, felt the flick was just about as good as it could be.


"Excellent movie for kids, although adults might be a tad bit bored. "
By Lewis's own standards, then, it is a bad film, as he said anything that cannot be enjoyed equally by children and adults is bad literature.

Zhou, your criticisms regarding family are actually true to the books. Distant parents are a theme in *all* Lewis's fiction, from _The Pilgrim's Regress_ until _Till We Have Faces_.
Lewis hated biographical criticism, but the _Chronicles_ scream of it. His mother died; his father was abusive. As a child, he escaped into fantasy to escape from a sad family life. As an adult, he purged his family demons in his stories, down to "Professor" Digory Kirke's mother getting miraculously healed at the end of _The Magician's Nephew_.

"but when you are playing a character called the White Witch who is a stand-in for Satan, I guess subtlety flies right out the wardrobe."
A very important point of the stories is that Jadis is *not* a "stand-in for Satan." In point of fact, she's described as a descendant of Lilith.
One very crucial apologetic theme in all Lewis's fiction is that Satan is not that powerful. One of the most dangerous ideas popular among people (including many Christians) is to think in Dualistic terms and think of Satan as God's opposite.
Lewis notes that Satan is not the opposite of God, but of St. Michael.
And in his fiction, he goes out of his way to show that Satan is not the root of all evil. Evil springs up spontaneously in people's hearts, even without Satanic influence, and there are plenty of other demons out there.

Granted, we see Satan showing up in _The Last Battle_ as Tash, but even then it is uncertain that this is really "Satan," as such, or just another powerful demon.

Lewis had three great gifts:
1. As Tom Howard says, the gift of successfully making CHrist into a fictional charaacter without being blasphemous.
2. The gift of really showing what demonic evil really is: something suave and seductive, yet terrifying and lethal. The description of the Un-Man in _Perelandra_ and the description of Tash in _THe Last Battle_ send chills down my spine no matter how many times I read them.
3. Most importantly, in my own experience, Lewis has a gift for expressing the joy of Heaven. Each of the Narnia books ends with a hint of it, and the "more-than-hint" at the end of _The Last Battle_ was one of the most profound conversion experiences of my life.
The liturgy appealed to me by telling me of God's majesty (I was blessed to be at a parishioner at a gothic cathedral).
The saints told me how to love God in this life, and in some cases how to have a dramatic death.
But all I had about heaven was simple pop-culture ideas (the very kind that made the young Lewis an atheist).
As a 10-year-old who never expected to see 20, reading _The Last Battle_, with its overarching contemplation of death, and the beautiful depiction of "Aslan's Country," was the piece of my faith that had been glaringly missing.

Michael L

I thought the characers of Edmund and Lucy were very well portrayed.

When I saw it, people laughed when Lucy shot the dwarf too. I think it was because it was done as almost a throw-away scene, with no real emotional buildup, and the dwarf's sound when he is shot came across as just a bit silly.

I also thought that the Aslan character somehow lost a lot of emotional wallop that he had in the book. In the book, he really had a depth of meaning and presence that I kept wanting but never quite got much of in the movie.

I thought the visuals were repeatedly glorious, especially during the trips through the wardrobe and the camp and battle scenes.


Someone above praised the BBC Narnia series. I thought it was dreadful--and I sure hope this movie is better.

In the BBC series, the girl who plays Lucy is pig-like, whiny, and obnoxious, not at all like the Lucy in the books. And there's entirely too much New Agey emphasis on the satyrs' revelry. And at one point, when Aslan is going to die in Edmund's place--or perhaps it's after he's already died and risen--Lucy says, "You risked that for us?"--a line that's absent from the book and which seems to suggest a very NON-divine Aslan. It screams political correctness.

The BBC dramatized only four of the books, IIRC, and the best of the lot was their dramatization of The Silver Chair. Tom Baker was the perfect Puddleglum!

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie. I know its departures from the book will drive me bonkers, but I'm going to try not to care. :)




Diane, the movie is a thousand times better than the BBC Narnia series!!

Michael Kremer

Since I was the one who mentioned the BBC series, let me say some things in its defense.

William, you don't say in what sense the movie is 10,000 times better than the BBC series. Surely it is a bigger budget production with much better special effects, much more believable magical creatures and so on -- the BBC production resorts to cartoons for flying horses and centaurs. But I am not sure in what other sense the movie is superior. I found it to drag in the second half. The BBC series is certainly more faithful to the books.

Diane: You say that Lucy in the BBC series is "pig-like, whiny, and obnoxious, not at all like the Lucy in the books." What I think you're mainly reacting to is that Lucy in the BBC series is somewhat pudgy and unattractive. You'll get a beautiful Lucy in the movie -- too beautiful. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader shows that Lucy is the plain sister and is envious of her older sister Susan's beauty. This won't make sense if they use the same actors as in LWW. I don't find the Lucy of the BBC series to be overly whiny and obnoxious. "Lucy grew very red in the face and tried to say something, though she hardly knew what she was trying to say, and burst into tears. For the next few days she was very miserable." says the book, and I think the BBC Lucy merely behaves as the book describes. Once in Narnia her face radiates joy. As I said, I found much less joy in the movie.

I just don't remember there being too much emphasis on satyrs dancing and so on in the BBC series. You think this is New Agey, but it is Lewis who includes reference to Silenus and Bacchus and the streams running red with wine and the whole forest being given up to jollification in Mr. Tumnus's recollections of Narnia before the witch. The pagan elements are there from Lewis. I would guess that if a comparison is made to the book, the overemphasis on the battle in the movie is much greater than any overemphasis on satyrs in the BBC series. Is this the new, post 9/11 PC?

Finally, to your deepest point: you don't like Lucy's asking Aslan "You risked that for us?" You say that this line "seems to suggest a very NON-divine Aslan. It screams political correctness." I agree that this isn't in the book. I went back and watched a bit of the BBBC video. First of all, what Susan (I think) asks is "You risked that for Edmund?" Note: Aslan did this for Edmund, not for us -- and this is true to the book. Aslan dies to save Edmund, not to save all of us. In the book, after the defeat of the Witch, Lucy asks Susan whether Edmund knows what Aslan did for HIM, and Susan replies that it would be too horrible for him to know. This is reproduced accurately in the BBC series but is missing from the movie.

Now, nonetheless, I see your point in a way: the movie has Aslan explain about the deeper magic involved in his rising from the dead -- and one of the girls then asks -- does this mean you knew all along? The worry she expresses is that Aslan's sacrifice is not really real in this case. And I think lots of people have this worry. And then Aslan answers that the deeper magic had never been tested. Then comes: "You risked that for Edmund?"

Now, you think that this is "PC" and shows a non-divine Aslan. But it seems to me that it is a way of struggling with the question of divine and human knowledge in Christ and what this says about the sacrifice of the Cross. When Christ says "My God, my God, why have you foresaken me?" this can be seen as the realization of the "risk" he has taken. I know that it need not be seen that way, but I don't think this is just 20th century PC but a real issue with a long history. Of course the BBC series answer is a shallow one -- I don't deny that.

But in general if you want faithfulness to the books you'll find much more of it in the BBC series than in the movies. A much more obvious bit of updating ("PC"?) comes in the movie when Susan and Lucy are not told by Fr. Christmas that they are not to fight in the battle, and Susan in fact does fight. (Even the BBC series leaves off the line that battles are ugly when women fight, though.) The movie both deletes whole scenes (the Witch's plannning to sacrifice Edmund) and adds in others (a scene with Lucy falling into a thawing river -- these are just examples). And many more great lines of the book are missing from the movie ("Don't you know who is the King of the woods?" -- and Peter and Susan are made to speak of "logic" to the Professor first -- again among many examples).

Well, I suppose I should just go and read the books now. The only solution! (But first we are going to cut down a Christmas tree.)


We saw it Friday and my reaction is 'eh'. Could have been a lot better and more involving. They wasted time on made up stuff like Peter's unsureness, and didn't even give him a decisive pay-off for it. At a fundemental level I didn't get a sense of coherent story. And that was caused by the deviations from the book. (which, before anyone responds to the effect that I'm just trying to map the movie on to the book and they're different: I had to stop reading Narnia when I discovered several years ago reading them aloud to our child that they set my teeth on edge. I'm not fresh enough on the books to pick out smalldetails that the movie changed. It's the overall sense of the story that wasn't there.)


Hi, Michael! Well, it's not just the BBC Lucy's pudginess. It's her brattiness. But maybe that's just a matter of taste. :) I saw the BBC series back before I had kids. No doubt I have a higher tolerance for whiny brattiness now, post-kids.

Re the satyrs: Yep, I know that Lewis brings in all the pagan revelry. But he baptizes it, and he's very explicit about that. The BBC series just gave me the impression that we were celebrating unbaptized, unalloyed, pre-Christian Nature Stuff, with its Christian significance drained right out. Maybe that's just me, but that's the feeling I got.

Re the "risk" line--which I misremembered; thanks for the corrrection--well, we'll just have to agree to disagree. ;)

I fear that the movie's departures from the book will bother me even more, alas. I do tend to be rather pedantic about dramatizations' faithfulness to the books I cherish. I don't mind dramatizations of so-so works that "improve" on the original--e.g., I think WGBH's Mystery series made more sense of The Greek Interpreter than Conan Doyle did. :p But when the dramatization "improves on" a work I love--whether it's Pride and Prejudice or one of the Narnia books--well, I have far less tolerance in that case.

I don't know why Hollywood always feels it has to change everything. If the original story is well told, then tell it that way, gosh-darn it. Sure, make some allowances for the visual-ness of the film medium. But you can do that without materially changing the story. You don't have to turn Peter into Hamlet or diminish Aslan in order to translate the written story compellingly to film...so why do it? Is it the fruit of the same egotistical auteur-ism that leads impresarios to set the Ring Cycle in some post-industrial wasteland, or whatever? Sheesh, why can't directors just get out of the way, put their egos on ice, and tell the darned story--both visually and verbally--the way the author intended? Would it kill them to do that for a change?

End of rant. ;)



Samuel J. Howard

"then Peter should have been burning to be just a little older and get to fight back."

As they're getting on the train there is a bit where he looks longingly at a uniformed soldier.


Granted it's one of the essays that Kathryn Lindskoog insists were forged by Walter Hooper, but there's an essay in which Lewis gripes about movies changing the books they're based upon.

Anyway, as for Lucy's "brattiness," a lot of people's first reaction to _Story of a Soul_ is "what a spoiled little brat.'

But if the movie cuts out "Logic! What do they *teach* them in these schools?" I'm going to be PO'ed, esp. considering how that comes back in _The Last Battle_ (Can they even *make* a movie of _The Last Battle_--or the end of _Dawn Treader_, for that matter--if they're going to pussyfoot around LWW?)

Samuel J. Howard

I think I'd almost have liked a little more blood in the movie, not Braveheart level, but something. When Peter kills the wolf Aslan tells him to clean his sword (i think), but I didn't see any blood on it.

I thought the Christian paralells and disjoints [some of which come from combing Old and New Testament elements, I think like how Aslan is a Lion and not a Lamb as some have complained] were very interesting, never having read the books, like how they mock and beat Aslan before killing him, or the Garden of Gethsemani moment where the girls walk with Aslan and then follow him to his death scene, while the boys sleep (mergining how mostly women followed Christ to Cavalry and how the apostles slept in the Garden).


I saw the movie today after re-reading the book last week...it took me a while to find the dusty box which held all my old books.
I got a very different message from the movie; I was crying within the first few minutes. I did not think the movie was pro war, quite the opposite. The idea of all those parents who were forced to sent their children into the country to live with strangers to guarantee their lives breaks my heart. During the air raid all I could do was think of all the civilian Iraqis who died during our "Shock and Awe" campaign.
Yes, one can find religious parallels if one look hard enough, but the idea that children are torn away from thier families and imagine fairy lands to fill the void is bittersweet.
I wonder where the safe havens are for children in Iraq.

Jimmy Huck

Saw the film this afternoon. Thought is was actually quite good. As a fantasy film for children (older children), it's just fine. [NOTE: Personally, I wouldn't bring a child under 8 to see it as some moments are pretty graphic and violent, and the evil creatures in the service of the White Witch are quite terrifying, actually.]

Though I am a big fan of Lewis, I always think it is a mistake to read the Narnia books or to expect its movie adaptations as literal Christian biblical stories. It is fantasy for kids and to force feed Children a wonderful story as simply a Sunday School lesson is to misunderstand Lewis and to take away the pleasure of the fantastical, escapist experience. In that, I think the movie succeeded; but if I had gone into the movie expecting a story of biblical proportions and profound Christian theology, I would have probably left dissatisfied.

One thing is for certain ... the special effects and reality-based animation of the talking creatures of Narnia were great, especially if you have seared into your mind the costumish and/or stiff mechanical way this was done in the previous live film British productions of four books of the series some years ago.

My 2 cents.


It took a couple of hours for my thoughts to form on this...as Katie and I followed up on a thoroughly lazy day by watching Mad Hot Ballroom...but I think I decided that I am weary of the dynamic of this new Christian market - what Barbara Nicolosi calls the Passion Dollars. I am tired of the film producers and distributors using (some) Christian churches and organizations to market their films and tired of (some) Christians clinging on to these cultural products in the hopes that they will evangelize.

Overheard on a blog somewhere:



I have to agree with Samuel J. Howard. I'd have liked just a teeny tiny bit of blood. When Aslan dies there is not a mark upon his body. I would have liked to see just a little bit of a dark stain where the knife went it. And I would have liked to have see just a hint of wolf blood on Peter's sword. And I would have liked to see just a little bit of red showing when the fox was mauled by the wolf. When his wound was being tended, he looked liked he had been licked, not bitten. And it was the bloodless battle I've ever seen. Not that I wanted "FREEDOM" running from every orifice, but we could have gotten a wee bit more sense that this was really life and death.
And yes, during the air raid, all I could think of were the Iraqi and Afghan children who were just as terrified recently as the British children were 50 years ago. I leaned over to the person I was with and said, "We in America think of war as being so sanitary, but it isn't."





Am I over-reading this flick by 200-400%?

Evil's castle is in a valley. Low. Dark.

Aslan's is on a mountaintop. High. Light.

"Peter" is given charge, even though he's not sure he can manage the task.

The Breath of Aslan restores life.

The Lion of Judah.

The Flower....

The only HALF-deceptive statements which result in sin.

Auricular confession!!

Music was more Chant-esque than Mel's.

Sacrifice born of Love redeems dead land.

Edmond has dark hair, Peter's is light.

Are those "other fighters" brought into the battle the same folks who, after the Resurrection, are unbound from Purgatory?

Was GKChesterton's take on 'myths and magic' completely off the wall?

Seemed to me that this flick had everything except the INCENSE of a RC Economy of Salvation precis, albeit it wasn't as focused as Mel's movie, nor was it "comprehensive."

Ah, well.

Tom R

Good grief.

> '"Peter" is given charge, even though he's not sure he can manage the task.'

Yep, which means LW&W parallels the Gospel accounts of Jesus giving the real Peter a sword and telling him 'Go smite all who have bound and mocked Me'.

And also how St Peter the first Pope disappeared into thin air on a hunting trip in 50 AD, leaving the Catholic Church in "some disarray" until the Goths marched in and installed their own chief priest as Bishop of Rome. When Jesus reappeared in 500 AD, he recognised Pope Hamlet as the rightful ruler of the realm, and his wicked, usurping Uncle Claudius as an invalid Antipope only.

> "Auricular confession!!"

Followed by Aslan telling Edmund 'Your forgiveness is only conditional until you have recited sixty thousand "Hail Galadriels" and undertaken a pilgrimage of mortification to the Lone Islands. Only then will I say "Let us speak no more of what is past".'

This reminds me of the way certain denominations of the blogosphere where rhapsodizing over "Lord of the Rings" as a "deeply Catholic film" even as Gandalf is telling Denethor "You may be the rightful Steward of Gondor, in unbroken succession, but even this unlettered Hobbit can tell that you're acting wrongly!"

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