June 4, 2005

The Christ, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

To the joy of CS Lewis fans everywhere a movie based on the beloved first book of his Chronicles of Narnia will be released to theaters December 9th this year. I just saw a trailer on E! this morning and it looks unbelievable. Definitely check it out if you enjoy the fantasy genre because this version of the Narnia series (it's not the 1st adaptation) looks even better than LOTR in my opinion.

I remember reading an article a while back about what the director was going to do about the Christian overtones in the book. Many readers have drawn the connection between Jesus Christ and Aslan. Also, the White Witch is often seen as a representation of Satan, or at the very least the danger of submitting to sinful temptation. I really don't really have a problem with its incorporation into a wide-release movie. When I read the books as a kid, I didn't even notice the Christian themes. I was just mesmerized by an amazing group of stories. I don't see a pressing need to whitewash them from the movie. Obviously, I wasn't proseytized (Jew for life!) by the book. I think the Christianity, as it was presented in the book, is subtle enough not to offend any reasonable person, yet also sends a good message to children (the seven books are often cited as allegories of the deadly sins) without being preachy. I couldn't really find a reliable to source to confirm the ultimate decision of the director, but I believe he kept the Christian themes, making sure that they were relegated to the background.

My only fear, and I think it's a well justified one, is the movie will further galvanize the Christian Coalition like The Passion did. I have this image in my head of Tom DeLay getting up on his soap box and comparing Nancy Pelosi to the White Witch. I suppose it would just be giving in to these crackpots, but it would really piss me of if people tried to pervert this beautiful children's story by trying to make it into something political.

6 comments:

  1. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, which is also being adapted (possibly--it's running into some trouble) for film, but what's very interesting about those books is that they are transparently anti-religious, even militantly so.

    I'll bet that's going to go over well with the Christian Coalition when/if they are released.

    And we all thought their 'Harry Potter is satanic' message was pretty dumb.

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  2. Couple things.

    Thanks for the notice about the movie. I loved the books when I was a kid, though the first book of the series is actually "The Magician's Nephew" I believe (yep, I was a diehard).

    Otherwise, Lewis was known also as a Christian theologician and much of his writing actually concentrated on that, so there's no doubt that religion has a very heavy impact on the series. The horse and his boy and The last battle have dominant Christian overtones (though there are some interesting points made in both regarding the interpretation of the religion.

    As for the use of a movie in political metaphors, its fair game. Dems especially should spare me the worries after the palpatine/frist comparisons.

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  3. Nigel-

    Yes, the Magician's Nephew is technically the 1st in the history of Narnia. It was released 5 years after The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe though so I guess it depends on what one means by "first book of the series."

    I wasn't particularly keen on the Star Wars references in Congress either. I found them to be more humorous than irritating though. Yet I do believe there is a distinction between using Star Wars and Narnia as political metaphors. George Lucas intended to show the danger of a republic deterriorating into a dictatorship with Star Wars. C.S. Lewis, on the other hand, was as you say a Christian theologian. Now I do realize that many Christian Conservatives today think religion and politics are the same thing, however I don't think this was the intention of C.S. Lewis in writing the Narnia Chronicles. In my opinion, it would take a significant overreading of the books to divine any type of political message from them. You may feel differently though.

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  5. I don't think this was the intention of C.S. Lewis in writing the Narnia Chronicles

    after all, the bible was the greatest story ever told...

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  6. C.S. Lewis created a deliberate metaphor with Aslan, and that should come through in the movie. I think it's dangerous to start fearing open expressions of Christianity because of the power of the radical Christian right. Maybe practically speaking, it's a real concern, and we should treat it accordingly, but I hope that won't prohibit us from engaging in religious dialogue.

    The Philip Pullman trilogy is incredible. It's definitely a powerful answer to the Narnia series. I would love to see a film version.

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