Truth Before Dishonor

I would rather be right than popular

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

Posted by John Hitchcock on 2010/03/29


The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is the first in a series of seven novels by C S Lewis. Actually, the first novel in the series, fantasy historically speaking, came fifth in the series, I believe (but don’t read ahead, or you’ll lose a lot of value in the series).

I very much enjoyed reading that series as a teen. I also very much enjoyed reading that series to my daughter prior to her reaching the ripe old age of ten (and she enjoyed my reading it to her). It was full of Christian messages, such as obvious failure, not-so-obvious failure, redemption, and duty. Of course, the seemingly omnipotent evil vs the seemingly impotent good played a major role, as well (as it does in today’s real world).

I own the 1988 BBC videotape of LWW and the Walden DVD of LWW and I enjoyed both. Obviously Walden is of much higher quality than the BBC made-for-tv children’s movie. (I re-learned Liam Neeson provided the voice for Aslan.) The Walden quality is very obvious. There is no way I can detract from the quality Walden provided. It is top-notch, as is the story-telling. But…

After I watch a movie on DVD often enough, I watch the movie with attached commentary. There are two commentaries on LWW, one with the kids and one with people behind the scenes. Both include the director. Andrew Adamson directed both LWW and the following Prince Caspian, but didn’t direct the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader (due out 12102010) and I believe I know part of the reason why.

Walden’s LWW relied heavily on C S Lewis’ book with some artistic differences, which is common in movies. And I don’t have a problem with that, at all. It’s expected. Those who hadn’t read the book prior to watching the movie wouldn’t notice anything missing and would very much enjoy the movie. Many who had read the book still wouldn’t miss anything in the movie.

But there’s a part in the book that is very much missing in the movie, and I was very much disappointed to find it missing. More on that soon.

Abramson said he read the series as a child and was drawn to the series, but he has apparently missed the whole message interwoven into the series. Let me lay it out very clearly: Aslan is Jesus. There is no denying that fact. Aslan is Jesus. Without that clear understanding and the ramifications of that clear understanding, there can be no proper treatment of LWW with respect to C S Lewis.

Listening to the commentary with ‘behind the camera’ folk, I found out Abramson had no idea why Lewis chose a lion (or he denied the reason to himself and searched for a different reason). Without that understanding, very much is missing. In the book, after the battle was over, Aslan chastized Lucy for ignoring everyone else and paying attention only to her then-healthy brother. “Must more die for your brother?” Abramson intentionally chose to remove this to prevent a let-down in the victory high. But it is very important in Christianity. Don’t let any victory high cause you to ignore your specifically laid out duties (she was responsible for the fire-berry juice and its use). And Christians fail and must be reprimanded, even in times of victory. This should not have been cut out and altered.

Listening to the commentary on Prince Caspian, I heard more of Abramson’s lack of understanding. Dawn Treader has a different director, and from what I understand, is very interested in returning to the focus of the series to Lewis’ vision. But apparently, FOX, which took over from Disney, foolishly decided to release it in 3-D. It is due out, like I said, on 10Dec10. FOX will also release it in 2-D. I will not watch it in 3-D but I hope to see the 2-D version return to the meat of the meaning of the series of books.

6 Responses to “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe”

  1. Hoagie said

    I have a flag like that. I took it off a guy who “didn’t need it no more” in 1969.

    Thing is John Hitchcock, my wife has used a similar (or maybe the same) shot as this for her wallpaper on her computer for about two years now. That little dot in the north is Pyongyang, the capitol.

    Free markets and individualism lead from the darkness into the light. Works every time it’s tried.

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  2. Hoagie, your comment is a wee bit off. I think you’re aiming at a more recent article. (And you made your way into moderation for using my last name, which contains a filtered word.)

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  3. Eric said

    Good review, John. I also noticed some (minor) deviations from the book, but must confess I completely missed the part where Aslan chastises Lucy for not tending to the others.

    I am also looking forward to the release of The Dawn Treader later this year, it being perhaps my favorite of the seven original books, mainly because so many different adventures are packed into it.

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  4. BBC went as far as The Silver Chair and, as far as I know, stopped there. I hope Walden doesn’t stop there (provided world events don’t change matters). Onward and upward!

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  5. Adara said

    One thing that makes me leery of the Dawn Treader: how they handle Reepicheep’s voyage at the end, and the vision of the lamb. Or -if- they handle it. Such a powerful image in the book.

    I didn’t know they were planning on 3-D; I hope they don’t spend too much time mucking about with ‘ooooh look the dragon is coming at you!’ type fluff. I understand why Prince Caspian deviated so much from the book–it was the weakest of the series in movie potential, the BBC combined it with Dawn Treader for a reason–but I also hope they don’t use it as an opportunity to snowball further and further away from the original books.

    I’ve loved the Narnia books since reading the first in school, and at every stage of my life have been able to reread them with new understandings, new impacts. C.S. Lewis says a lot in those brief bright children’s books. And movies have such potential to reach larger audiences…I both dread and anticipate the coming of each new movie.

    Anyhow here’s hoping what you heard was right, and thanks for sharing the news and thoughts. 🙂

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  6. From what I read, Dawn Treader was going to install a quest to de-dragonify Eustace, but advisers from a major target audience spent a couple days explaining Grace and that the de-dragonification could not be earned so that plan was killed. But I, too, am interested in how they handle the lamb. Did they get it wrong? Did they bypass it? Or did their advisers help them get it right?

    Overall, these movies are not anti-Christian. And that is a definite plus. That they’ve gotten concepts wrong or bypassed concepts and events is concerning, but so far they haven’t actually gone negative. I think they realize if they go negative, their largest target audience will vote with their wallets.

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