Mon 19 Dec 2005
Clive Staples (“Jack”) Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, an epic masterpiece of the wartime adventures of two brothers and two sisters, is brought alive by the genius of the special effects masters over at Industrial Light and Magic.
The Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media film opened December 9th, but I just managed to see it yesterday. In a sentence, I loved it.
Without a doubt, the cinematography was stunning — and the CG animation amazing (Aslan, the lion, was as near to life as I’ve ever seen in CG). But CG alone doesn’t make a movie; I saw Peter Jackson’s 2005 remake of King Kong on Friday and though some scenes were spectacular (for example, the dinosaur stampede), I wasn’t horribly impressed with the movie as a whole. Maybe my low rating of Kong derives from the movie’s length; the movie is wicked long; good thing I had my 72 hour kit or I would have perished. In fact, people are still finishing up the movie who went in on Dec 9th. Note to filmmakers: if you can’t cut it down to two hours, break your freaking movie into MULTIPLE films. [Stepping off my soap box. End of rant.]
Ok, back to Clive’s story. We have the Pevensie children, namely: Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan. Peter is the oldest and functions as a patriarch figure over the others (although he is somewhat harsh with Edmund). Lucy is the youngest and is the first to discover the wardrobe. She represents the innocent part of humanity. Susan is the calmest of them all and is a peacemaker. Edmund is the darker one of the family and is tempted by the White Witch through his physical appetites (food (Turkish Delight) and power (to have his brother as a servant)). Together the four children (sons of Adam and daughters of Eve) stand for all of us, and also, in particular, the different parts of each individual.
The White Witch. White is a good camouflage for her evil core. The twisted motif here is that of a classic antagonist with a facade of righteousness.
Are you surprised I used the word “righteousness?” The story is quite clearly a Christian allegory. In fact, it’s more than that, it’s also a parade of central Mormon doctrine. I don’t know how “Brother” CS Lewis did it, but he’s right on the money. Let’s explore:
The children are on a journey in Narnia. Edmund is a traitor (he goes to the Witch and gives her information about his family) and therefore, according to the rules of Narnia, his life belongs to the White Witch (as a sinner’s life is forfeit to Satan without the intervention of God). Fortunately for Edmund, Aslan, the powerful lion king sacrifices his life to save Edmund (and all others similarly situated). Aslan not only voluntarily gives up his life without fighting, but subjects himself to ridicule and humiliation (for instance, they shave his mane) in the process. The New Testament records similar actions by Jesus Christ who also gave his life in an ignominious fashion to save mankind. Along the children’s way, they are given protective armor (the armor of God) and are lead into a battle against the forces of darkness. Goodness prevails and the children reign as kings and queens forever.
Did you notice that the White Witch can’t kill anyone, she merely freezes them? The breath of God brings them back to life (or, in the movie, thaws them). In a similar vein, the bible talks of death as only a temporary state. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55 KJV)
There are lots of unfamiliar creatures in the movie, here are a few:
- Satyr: (Greek Mythology) — A creature with pointed ears, legs, and short horns of a goat
- Centaur: — A beast with the trunk of a man and the body and legs of a horse.
- Faun: (Roman Mythology) — A creature having the body of a man and the horns, ears, tail, and sometimes legs of a goat
- Minotaur: (Greek mythology) — A being with the head of a bull and the body of a man
- Griffon: A fabulous beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.
On a linguistic note, we don’t use the word wardrobe to refer to something that contains clothes anymore (the term has now come to mean the collection of clothes themselves, e.g. “I am going to choose an outfit from my wardrobe”. Some people have taken, instead, to using the French “armoire,” which reminds me of “chest of drawers,” which I used to think was “chester drawers” — but that’s another matter.
What I’m trying to say is that the Chronicles of Narnia is a very good movie.