Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
|Featuring||Jim Broadbent, Patrick Kake, Elizabeth Hawthorne, James McAvoy, Judy McIntosh|
|Producer||Philip Steuer, Perry Moore, Mark Johnson|
|Distributor||Walt Disney Pictures|
Our INTERVIEW with the director and producer, plus the White Witch
How can I be (and feel) forgiven for what I’ve done wrong? Answer
If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer
If God created Satan, and Satan is evil, is evil God’s fault? Answer
What is the Christian perspective on war? Answer
“There are a thousand stories in the land of Narnia… The first is about to be told.”
Finally, the long awaited, much anticipated adaptation of the beloved children’s story from The Chronicles of Narnia come to the big screen. This second of seven books from the series authored by C.S. Lewis over fifty years ago creates the substance with which this film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe mystifies, mesmerizes, enlightens and entertains anyone who is willing to embrace it. Doors to your imagination will unavoidably be opened—as might a door to your very heart and soul.
A wonderful adventure. An illustrious biblical metaphor. A beautiful Christmas story. A captivating fantasy. From the very heart of renowned Christian apologetic C.S. Lewis is the story of four children, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) who discover a world they would have never thought possible. It’s World War II and these siblings are sent away for safe keeping into the English countryside to stay with a delightful old professor (Jim Broadbent) until danger subsides at their home in London. But after an unexpected discovery in the back of a coat closet, Lucy introduces her brothers and sister to a realm of make-believe that is more fun than any fantasy and more real than life and death. It is a world that provides friends and enemies, battles and betrayals, family unity and sacrifice, and a promise to become a king or queen.
But is the film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe like the book? Director Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”, “Shrek II”) says that what you get from the book is what you will get from the movie. This does not mean Adamson did not make changes, however (see our interview article for more on this). But this movie has been made by all kinds of different people and companies, from all different backgrounds and walks of life and various worldviews. Did not some things have to change in order for a movie like this to be released into the mainstream media? Yes, there are changes, but ardent fans that have cherished these books for decades can rest assured knowing that these filmmakers remain faithful to its origins. The characters, storyline, themes and creativity all remain intact from the original charming children’s story.
For those who have not read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe there may be questions as to what kind of children’s story this is exactly, involving battles and betrayals, a White Witch and “deep magic.” Is this just more Harry Potter? No, it is not, and it is definitely a story for kids (perhaps no younger than 7)—as well as for anyone who is willing to become like a child and enjoy it. Like so many great stories, this one is not about glorifying what is evil, but instead showing the triumph of what is good. There is the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton), but there is also the great Lion and King of Narnia, Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), whom Swinton describes as the “epitome of all good.”
One of the producing companies for this film is Disney, and as with so many of their children’s stories there is a noble effort to filter violence and curtail any incident that could be harmful or disturbing for younger kids. For instance, on different occasions when someone is killed, the incident is inferred rather than being gratuitously depicted. There are depictions of wounds being incurred during the furious battle scene, but there is no recollection of any blood being shown. The moments go by quick and should not be too overwhelming. The most frightening moment, however, is when Aslan goes to the stone table and passes through a host of scary creatures.
So what is it with this story that believers in Christ are so eager to connect? Is there a deeper meaning? Is the “deep magic” a reference to something else? Producer Mark Johnson (“Rain Man”, “Avalon”, “The Rookie”, “The Notebook”) says that so many of them read these books as kids and only thought of it as a good children’s story. But, Johnson says, C.S. Lewis was obviously a Christian, as well as a Christian writer, and states, “If you want to find all kinds of Christian symbolism in it, it’s certainly there.” Without going through the entire movie and interpreting point for point what those parallels are, suffice it to say that significant metaphors resound throughout this story, namely having the faith of a child, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, as well as His resurrection from the dead, resulting in salvation for sinners.
Is the goal then for making The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to produce a “Christian” movie? Perhaps for some, but, as Johnson also points out, C.S. Lewis himself said that his book was not a “Christian” book. If you are a believer in Christ, you will most likely see the parallels to Jesus and the Gospel, but this movie can certainly be enjoyed by anyone who watches it.
If you are not familiar with the Gospel, but are somehow intrigued or interested, this story is a very delightful way to open up your heart and mind to it in an indirect way and cause you to consider the Good News as you may never have before.
Further, in light of the Gospel, it is highly appropriate that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a children’s story, because as Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, NIV). Lucy is the youngest of the four children, and also the first to discover Narnia. When I asked actress Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy, what she liked best about her character, she said, “I loved her because she is so pure; very, very pure—and I think that is a gorgeous quality to have.”
This movie is a faithful adaptation and provides high quality, wholesome entertainment. You may not get everything from the movie that you get from the book, but the essence is there. It feels like there is more heart that comes through in the book, but while watching the film there is still the feeling of a grandfather divulging a significant tale to his grandchildren. Fans of the book should not be disappointed, and when considering a movie for the family at Christmas time, this one will refresh and delight like the first fall of winter snow.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: None
|Don’t miss our Relevant Issues list, plus our Narnia discovery list. Also, see our INTERVIEW: Behind the scenes of The Chronicles of Narnia with director Andrew Adamson, producer Mark Johnson, and actress Tilda Swinton (the White Witch)|
Coloring page: The lion and the lamb