Skip to comments.This Lion Will Roar (C.S. Lewis Story Comes to Big Screen)
Posted on 12/06/2005 10:29:28 AM PST by truthandlife
After nearly 13 years in the making, one of the most beloved pieces of children's literature comes to life using technology unimaginable by its author when first published in 1950. Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media bring C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to the big screen later this week, opening on Friday, December 9.
Authentic costumes, computer-generated animation, cutting-edge software and astounding special effects transport viewers into the breathtaking land of Narnia. There audiences become one with the classic tale, in which good triumphs over evil.
"The story follows the exploits of the four Pevensie siblings -- Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter -- who enter the world of Narnia through the back of a magical wardrobe while playing a game of 'hide and seek' in the rural country home of an elderly professor," as described by Walden Media.
The children discover a fantasyland with mythical creatures, talking animals and an evil witch who has cursed the once peaceful land with eternal winter. It only lasts until the children come under the guidance of a noble lion who leads his followers into a battle freeing Narnia from its icy spell forever.
Behind the Wardrobe Behind the literary masterpiece is the late C.S. "Jack" Lewis, born as Clive Staples Lewis, who is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe resulted from a conversation between Lewis and author J.R.R. Tolkein (The Lord of the Rings) about the bewailing state of children's literature in the 1940s. They agreed that no one was writing literature that taught children lessons about life, so they decided to do it themselves.
"The result is we have some of the finest and most refined English literature ever produced ...," said Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham in an interview with AFA Journal.
For the Christmas movie-going season, director Andrew Adamson and filmmaker Mark Johnson -- both Oscar winners -- have turned this acclaimed literary work into a major motion picture. "It's a visually-stunning, beautiful movie, and it's very exciting and moving, and it's amusing," Gresham said.
Beyond the Wardrobe
Yet, at the story's core, there is more.
"It does encapsulate and exemplify all those great values commonly needed ... throughout the centuries -- chivalry, honor, commitment, courage, courtesy -- all of the things that the 20th century has tried to do away with as being outmoded and out of date," Gresham explained.
And even beyond the moral message, there is a symbolic story of biblical proportions that illustrates Lewis' personal relationship with Christ.
"His faith permeates everything he wrote ...," explained Dr. Michael Travers, English professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, published author, literary scholar, and Lewis expert.
"[But] Jack didn't sit down to write a Christian book to begin with," Gresham said. "[Rather] what he did was he asked himself a question.
"The question was: Suppose there was a land or world where the animals could talk with the people and they lived in friendly harmony with mythological creatures like fauns and centaurs .... And suppose somehow evil managed to get into that world, and God had to save that world like He had to save this one," Gresham explained on behalf of the late Lewis. "How might this come about? What might it have been like? How would it have happened?
"His answer to that ... supposal was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
Being Faithful to the Wardrobe
And so the story unfolds as industry insiders claim the film to be a faithful adaptation of the book.
Michael Flaherty, president of Walden Media, the company that produced the film, was immediately aware of the responsibility that accompanied taking the tale from print to film. So his company adopted "faithful adaptation" as its mantra and named Gresham as co-producer.
"Any time we had any kind of question ... Douglas could actually reference conversations he had with C.S. Lewis," Flaherty added. "So that's when we knew we were doing everything we could to be faithful."
"[However] you're not going to see on the screen exactly the movements described in every frame of the book. You're not going to hear exactly the words," Gresham explained.
"But the main story ... is a faithful representation in the film medium of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," he added.
"If we successfully brought the book to film, then everything would be there," Flaherty said. "Whatever people bring to the book, they'll bring to the film," he added.
Beneath the Wardrobe
So what's really beneath the story that seems to fascinate Christians? Travers offers a detailed examination of the biblical parallels and Christian symbolism that permeate The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
According to Travers, when it comes to the Christian elements in the story, "Lewis responded by saying that ... he suffuses Christianity throughout the book."
For example, Travers compared Lewis' approach to writing fairy stories to a multi-colored tapestry. Just as rich blends of color and images are woven into a tapestry, so is Christianity woven into the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
"[Therefore] Christianity is apprehended through the imagination and emotions before the intellect in [all seven books of] The Chronicles of Narnia [series]," Travers said. "[So] by embedding the theology in the whole of the book, some people won't realize they're getting theology. Others, of course, will realize it and appreciate it."
Bewitchment of the Wardrobe
Since the Christianity in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is embedded, many parents may immediately question its appropriateness because it includes evil, magic, violence and a witch.
"The question for parents is not whether they should allow their children to see the movie or read the book on that ground alone," Travers explained. "The question is, rather, how is the evil presented? Is it shown to be evil, or is it presented as attractive?
"Evil in Narnia is clearly very evil," he said. "It would be difficult to conceive of a child preferring the White Witch [who is selfish, cruel and nasty] to Aslan [the messianic lion] .... On the other hand, good is presented as attractive in Narnia. Aslan is gracious, strong and loving. Peter, Susan, Lucy, and eventually even Edmund, rise to their highest powers under the influence of Narnia good."
In other words, good is victorious over evil as a result of the redemption brought to Narnia through the death and resurrection of Aslan. Furthermore, the magic is not to be understood as an occultic power but rather as a type of enchantment that brings to light the issue of law and grace.
"The other point to remember is that, unlike the Harry Potter series, evil magic in Narnia is never praised and never victorious," Travers said. "Edmund's evil is pure arrogance and selfishness; it needs no magic to augment it.
"Further, the lines between Narnia and our world are clear. In this novel, it is a big wardrobe that provides entrance to the magical world of Narnia, and everyone knows when the human children have crossed from one world into another and back again. This, too, distinguishes Narnia from Harry Potter."
"Sometimes truth and light need darkness to be amplified, and I think that's clearly the case with this," Flaherty added.
Such a thought justifies Lewis' inclusion of a battle in the story. While the book merely mentions the battle, the movie plays it up to be "the apocalyptic battle, in reverse, of the entire world," Gresham said.
The movie battle is between 20,000 combatants: Aslan's noble warriors and the White Witch's evil creatures -- many of which may be too scary for young children.
However, Gresham claimed it never loses sight of the personal involvement of the protagonists, which viewers can only hope stays true to Lewis' intentions of a "cushioned" violence, as referred to by Travers.
"The child should not see so much violence that it creates trauma," said Travers, paraphrasing Lewis. "But he should see enough violence to recognize that it's part of the world around us .... [And in a way] that it's controlled, and if I can say it theologically, by God's sovereignty."
Beliefs from the Wardrobe
Therefore, Travers views this story as a spiritual lesson about good and evil. As a guideline for viewing the movie, Flaherty tells parents that if their child can read or listen to the book without any qualms, then the child can see the film. Gresham noted that the PG-rated movie may be inappropriate for anyone under six years old due to the realistic imagery. However, if there is any question, parents are encouraged to view the movie first to determine if it is suitable for the maturity of their children.
"[This] magic, along with ... evil, should present opportunities for parents to talk with their children about moral and spiritual issues and help guide their thinking as they read the book or watch the movie," Travers encouraged.
Biblical parallels and symbolism taken from Travers' teachings, include:
* Aslan: a model of Christ
* Battle: struggle between good and evil
* Pevensie siblings: Christ's ambassadors
* Statues brought to life by Aslan: salvation; Pentecost
* Deep Magic: Old Testament Law
* Deeper Magic: God's grace
* Edmund's waywardness: sin
* White Witch: evil
The symbolism can easily be identified in the context of the story and can be expanded upon as parents and children read the story and/or view the movie together.
"Reading the book with the child, answering questions and encouraging their right understanding before they see the movie will be helpful," Travers said. "I advise [parents] to enter Narnia with their children," he added. "This is a parent's opportunity, not a stumbling block."
An upcoming movie about Bubba, The Beast and a Blue Dress.......
bump for publicity
In a side-by-side comparison, I feel sure that Aslan would be more attractive.
But central to the story is that when Edmund encounters the White Witch she does not seem evil. She seems like an understanding friend. And Edmund is seduced.
Evil is like that.
Interesting that the Brittish paper, "The Guardian" has written two big time hit pieces on this movie already.
Evil is like that.
2 Corinthians 11:14-15 (NIV)
14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
My daughter and I cant wait to see this movie.
"Evil is like that."
Brother, have YOU got that RIGHT!
It seduces you, little by little ... .
To my mind, evil/Satan/sin never present as they really are, but in a guise, an alluring costume. The end result is hidden or man would never choose the sin.
If the true appearances, natures and intent of Jesus and Satan were presented to man, Satan would lose 100% of the time.
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you...25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'[c]
Cool! This tactic worked so well against "The Passion" they decided to try it again. Hey, just spell the name right.
Yes, as we learned during the Clinton campaigns when he basically seduced the entire country. Some, but not enough of us saw through him.
I look forward to reading C.S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, conversations between a senior and junior devil, which I've been told was the model for the seductive devil in Gibson's "Passion."
Apparently it did work pretty well in Britain.
there's a good downloadable 9-minute trailer for the movie here
> This tactic worked so well against "The Passion" they decided to try it again.
As I understand it, "The Passion" tanked in Britain.
And if that doesn't work...
That is not exactly tanking. Don't believe the left wing media.
I'm waiting for the first poster to show up and claim that Lewis and his books are tools of the devil.
Hunh? Is there an official Narnian costume criterion? I want Reepicheep's boots and hat!
Even though CSL _wrote_ the books in the order Lion/Caspian/Voyage/Chair/Horse/Nephew/Battle he later admitted that the series is better-read _chronologically - Nephew/Lion/Horse/Caspian/Voyage/Chair/Battle. And it IS a better way to read the septet (septology?).
Nothing can ever replace the books and One's first-reading of them - imagining the World just from the text and building One's own 'theatre of the mind'; just like the LOTR trilogy - and to real fans of the printed word the movie will be a passing fad.
To the unfortunates who will never be inspired-enough by the movie to pursue the books, well, to them it'll just be entertainment, and that's _their_ loss.
good point...Satan comes as an angel of light.
am waiting for the followers of TROP to say they are offended by anything that does not relate to islam in a positive way...
A fifth grade class in my son's public elementary school is going to see the movie as a class trip. They are gong on school time with school approval.
Wait until they make The Horse and His Boy, Book 5. The TROP-ers will go nuts.
I think it's odd to hear that there is no blood in the film. In the LWW/book when Peter kills the wolf, he looks down and sees that there is fur and blood on his sword. Aslan remainds him to always wipe the blood off when he uses it.
Minor quibble only. I can't wait to see the movie.
"But central to the story is that when Edmund encounters the White Witch she does not seem evil. She seems like an understanding friend. And Edmund is seduced."
The Witch is obviously evil. Edmund, in his jealousy and resentment and fear, blinds himself to that. He has been told by Lucy about the Witch already, and the Witch almost blasts him with her wand before deciding to cozen him.
Edmund knows, all right. We all know. And that is Lewis's point - we know how to recognize evil, especially if we have had a basic education in both fantasy and history.
Geez, can't people simply praise Lewis' work without A.) bringing up Harry Potter, and B.) lying about Harry Potter?
Anyone else see a resemblance (OK, take off the glasses...)
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