Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Disney's Next Hero: A Lion King of Kings

As the residents of Narnia like to whisper, "Aslan is on the move." And so he is. But for the moment, Walt Disney Pictures has him on a very short leash.
the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.

That spirituality sets Aslan apart from most of the Disney pantheon and presents the company with a significant dilemma: whether to acknowledge the Christian symbolism and risk alienating a large part of the potential audience, or to play it down and possibly offend the many Christians who count among the books' fan base.

A fascinating NYT piece on how Disney is wrestling with the Lion who is good, but not safe.

As seen on Thunderstuck.

- Peace


kris said...

I think 99% of non-Christians who read the books or see the movies wouldn't even think of connecting Aslan with Christ. Granted, I'm sure that could be different in the States, especially with the media coverage it's bound to get.

I have to admit, I found this quite amazing: "Motive Marketing, a California public relations firm that specializes in cultivating Christian audiences"

Dave King said...

I know what you mean, I was at a U of A debate club party and was speaking with a young lady who was a self described Narnia fan and she thought I was crazy for reading spiritual stuff in to it.

On the other hand I saw a TNB youth production of the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe where they removed all the spiritual elements including Aslans death and resurection, and it was lame.

So just cause many people miss it, doesn't mean they won't try and take stuff out.

- Peace

Richard said...

Well, I the pessimist in me predicts that Narnia will go the way of Lord of the Rings and Chariots of Fire. It'll still be a great production but will fall far short of what it could have been because secular directors seem unable to grasp some of the basic elements of what they present and also seem unwilling to consult with people who do.

Strangely enough, this also reminds me of the Star Trek episodes where the techno-babble contained errors that a grade 11 science student could have easily corrected.

Though one thing to remember is that CS Lewis had always denied the presence of any Christian symbolism in his Narnia books. This literary community has always had extreme difficulty believing this. Perhaps Disney will be able to demonstrate to the literary community that Narnia is, as Lewis has always maintained, devoid of Christian symbolism, allegory, and allusion :p

Dave King said...

Richard, I think you're confusing Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis was very up front about his imagery in Narnia, though he did deny it was aligory. But remember Lewis was a Literary Prof so he had a very exact meaning in mind.

Tolkien was much more resiestent to the idea that LOTR had christian symbolism. But as I understand it he embraced the idea that it showed a catholic ethos. Again Tolkien had a very spefic understanding of symbolism where an event,person,thing im the story maps to a single idea.

- Peace

Dave King said...

Richard read the Is Narnia an allegory? entry in the CS Lewis FAQ.

- Peace

Richard said...

Thanks for clearing that "allegory" thing up. If I understand correctly now, an allegory maps to events and people in our history. Narnia attempted to explore the question, if Our Lord also created another universe or history, what might it look like given what we know of God's unchanging nature. A world with different "accidents" but the same "substance".

Alternate fantasy series (Harry Potter, DragonLance) then would have similar "accidents" (elves, dwarves, magic rings) but perhaps different "substance" because the heroes would display different virtues / worldviews - and succeed in with different moral styles of conduct.

I can see that Lewis would very much need to deny parallel between our history and that of Narnia. 1000 years of corruption before the original disciples who witnessed the Resurrection of Aslan restore the true religion might prove problematic. The Calormene worshippers of Tash corrupting the true religion of Aslan by fusing with it and becoming the wicked enemies of all that is right and good.

Yes, now I can see why readers would interpret historically and why Lewis would deny intentional historical parallel. Now, as for unintentional historical parallel...