Thursday, January 12, 2006

---Warning! Incoming Movie Review! 

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
It’s pushing $250M USD in box office in the five weeks since release. Are the movie execs paying attention yet?
I read the Narnia books as an adult, after watching the movie and stage versions of Shadowlands. C.S. Lewis obviously intended the work for children, as an exciting adventure as well as an introduction to Christian doctrine. This is an intensely allegorical treatment of the subject, mixed with elements of classicism and a few other sort of---mixed metaphors. Many adults probably react to the allegory about like Tolkein did, but Narnia is an enduring classic with children. Maybe if I had some experience with Turkish Delight....
The movie is nothing short of incredible. This Narnia is populated with an extraordinary variety of strange creatures---armed and armored centaurs (this is a rather militaristic story, after all), fauns, harpies, gryphons, and so on. It is possible to forget very quickly that the talking animals are animated characters, or non-human for that matter. Even the beaver couple, which I expected to be sort of cheesy, was believable and humorous. The White Queen is genuinely icy, topped off with some kind of glassy eye shadow and really scary hair. Aslan carries himself with a masterful dignity entirely in keeping with his allegorical context, in a way not frequently associated with talking lions in movies. On the other hand, the cast selected to portray the average British school children look and act like average British school children. The Big Battle at the End (local rpg jargon, for the uninitiated) is awe inspiring and imaginative---maybe not quite Jackson’s Helm’s Deep or Gondor, but not far off. The film doesn’t shy away from any of Lewis’ depiction of Christian symbolism, to the point that the death of Aslan may be too much for younger children (On the other hand, I think they took me along to see Ben Hur when I was about five. I remember something about chariot racing, and lepers.) .
It remains to be seen if the other novels in the series will be picked up for movie titles. Voyage of the Dawn Treader would be nice....

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