Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Great stuff. True to the original storyline (much more so than Lord of the Rings) and the special effects count as Deep Magic (Aslan makes a great Lion King of Kings). Some minor things appeared to be deviations from the book but I need to re-read the book to make sure... been so long.

I would have rated it 14a, (Parental Guidance Required) rather than PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested). Then again, the number of kids under 14 going without an adult is probably pretty small.

Aslan and Lucy steal the show, of course. I was impressed with whoever played Lucy. She got the best lines and delivered them masterfully.

This is the third movie I've seen recently (Star Wars III, and X-men 2) that portrayed the rapid seduction of a character to the paths of evil in a hauntingly believable fashion.

I find it so easy to read about Judas, Cain, Herod, or Pharoah and think smugly, "I'd never be so evil". Now I begin to think that Jesus was trying to demolish such presumptions when he told us the story of the Pharisee and the tax-collector. The distance between small unrepented sins and heinous crimes is not as large as we would like to believe.


kris said...

I would agree with that assement.

"Lucy" was great - the best child actor since Dakota Fanning.

Aslan was well done, as were the other special effect characters.

I don't have kids so I'm not sure what's acceptable but I agree that the dark moments certainly seemed like they could be frightening for young kids. But this movie was being marketed towards people who probably took their kids to see The Passion so I guess it was pretty tame.

I've heard the criticism a couple of times that the story-line was a little too simplistic, i.e. good and evil aren't always as b&w as they appear in the movie. What do you think? It's a kid's story after all so I'm not sure what they were expected, but maybe some people felt there could've been more layers or nuances?

Richard said...

Kris, for a long time, I've been of the opinion that the difference between good and evil is black and white but... the devil confounds us and makes it unclear and... Our Lord can redeem the worst of us.

To me, Star Wars, X-men, and Narnia profoundly portray this truth from a "God's eye" point of view. That is, we watch Palpatine, Magneto, and Jadis exploit and confuse their subjects but the movie/book is done in a way that does not confuse us.

Of course, in real life we do not have that luxury of a "God's eye" or objective point view and so we see things from the subjective point of view of Edmund or Annakin.

That being said, there is a level of maturity and subtlety in literature that the "subjective" point of view has to offer which the "objective" approach lacks. (See Dave's post on poetry vs systematic theology). I would agree that Narnia the book and the movie, being objective, lack the richness of the subjective. But, as you say, it's a kid's story and a darn good one at that. I would add that it's also an introduction to the Christian worldview and a darn good one at that.

I would also agree that Christianity has for too long ignored the subjective point of view and the richness it has to offer.

For example, some lessons in the Bible have a subjective flavor rather than an objective one and we can miss that.

As a child, I mistakenly thought Pilate was a good guy because he "tried" to save Jesus and the gospel of John did not explicitly name him a scoundrel the way it did for Judas. Some people who watched Gibson's "Passion" made the same mistake as I did as they missed some of the implicit messages.

Same goes for polygamy where the Bible never explicitly condemns polygamy and the reader needs to realize for themselves that it always ends in disaster.

In Theology of the Body the late John Paul II contrasts the first account of creation with the second (I've already forgotten which is Yahwist and which is Elohist). In one of the early chapters he draws incredibly profound "objective" truths from the first account.

But instead of delving deeper into these objective truths which we could all do well to meditate upon, he says he wants to spend the rest of the book / series of talks meditating on the "subjective" truths contained in the second account. I haven't read that part yet :(

I've heard people invoke the "skeleton" and "flesh on the bones" analogy where the objective truths are the "skeleton" upon which the subjective truths get layered. Just because the flesh requires a skeleton one musn't make the mistake of thinking that life and beauty can exist without the subjective elements.

I would agree that for thousands of years the Church has been neglecting the subjective - moral relativists are right to point out this deficiency. I think John Paul II addresses these deficiencies in the true spirit of Vatican II rather than replcaing the neglect of the subjective with the neglect of the objective.

So getting back to Narnia, yes it lacks the subtleties and riches of a more subjective story but I don't think that diminishes its value in any way.

In addition, I kind of like the forthright manner as I'm pretty sure that if the book were more layered, subtle, and nuanced those parts would not have made into the movie because they would have been missed. I breathed a sigh of relief when the whole "if Lucy isn't lying and she isn't lunatic, then logically speaking she must be telling the truth" dialogue survived. I was truly afraid that something that subtle would be missed.

For example, Lord of the Rings is so subtle that Tolkien fans who are not Christian can rarely even see the Christian elements and Jackson failed to bring sooooo many "Catholic" elements that were in Tolkien's books. Chariots of Fire is another movie that fails to bring out the intended Christian message. I think Dave mentioned the movie about Johnny Cash and its failure to faithfully portray the spiritual tension in Cash's journey.

I, for one, am glad that Narnia survived the move to the big screen.

Dave King said...

Worst part was Aslan's roar, needed to be at least twice as loud to live up to the book.

Best change was when Mr Beaver told the children to move "deeper in". If you're going to change the dialog then using phrases from other parts of the series works.

There were a ton of detail changes but they got the spirit right. I liked the fact the it started with the air raids as most kids these days wouldn't have a clue as to why they we're being sent to the country.

Sarah didn't go see it, most of her friends who saw it didn't like it. Perhaps like the real Lucy she's to old for fairy tales at the moment. She did however enjoy LOTR. Many LOTR fans do not enjoy Narnia, Tolkien is reported to have been very critical of Narnia as well.

- Peace

kris said...

Good observations guys.

Dave, could you post a link I've seen you use before that gives a Q&A about C.S. Lewis? Do you know the one I mean? It asks things such as, which order would he like the series read in? did he believe in purgatory, etc?


Richard said...

Kris, are you talking about the
CS Lewis FAQ?

I notice that he died before the end of the Second Vatican Council. I wonder if the Vatican II documents would have dealt with his "blank-cheque" objection to Roman Catholicism.

This was a big sticking point with me as well for many years. Now it's a smaller sticking point but still a sticking point.

kdhill said...

That's the one. Thanks.

Sarah said...

Enjoyed LotR? Where are we drawing such conclusion from? Must I remind you that I /nearly/ fell asleep during one, and /barely/ remember anything from them?

Christopher said...

I really enjoyed the movie.

I am unfamiliar with 14a. Explain.

I invited my third grade class and their families to watch the movie with me. I had about ten of my kids and their families show up. They all loved it.

The scenes at the Stone Table were pretty intense.

I had already read the book to the class. We also wrote reviews of the book (http://www.mrwrightsclass.com).

Richard said...

14a means that the theatres require people under 14 to be accompanied by an adult in order to watch the movie.

In your case, you would be the adult as would the parents and so 14a would not in any way restrict what you did.

PG-13 means that a six-year old could go by themself or accompanied by a teenager. I thought some of the scenes were sufficiently violent to require parental attendance. Note that I am not discouraging any child from seeing the movie.

I am advocating adult involvement and decision making. Every child is different and what is suitable for one may not be for another. I think an accompanying adult needs to make that decision on per child basis.

A more extreme example would be Indiana Jones, Temple of Doom (inappropriately rated PG-13) where kids would pee themselves because they were so scared but there was no requirement that the child be with an adult.

In such an "accident" an adult could reasonably be expected comfort the child and to bring the child home instead of continuing to watch the movie. While a supervising teen-ager might be willing and able to deal with the situation rather than complain about their baby-sibiling, that would be exceeding rather than meeting expectations.

Christopher said...

I required the parents to be there.