Friday, December 17, 2010

The Battle for Narnia

What would C.S. Lewis say? According to the WSJ:
Walden Media, the film-production company responsible for the movie versions of Lewis's children books, "The Chronicles of Narnia," is therefore in the unenviable position of triangulating three distinct and not always compatible factors: what Lewis actually wrote; what American Christians would like to believe he wrote and what large numbers of filmgoers want to see onscreen.

The third and latest film, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," is said by producer Mark Johnson to reflect the company's renewed resolve to "reach out to the faith-based community." The first film, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," marketed with the assistance of the firm that promoted Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ," was a big hit in 2005.

The second, "Prince Caspian," underperformed at the box office. This may have been because the second book in the series (to go by order of publication), isn't nearly as well-known as the first, or perhaps it was because the film was released in May instead of at Christmastime. Or (you can almost hear the Monday-morning studio executives calculate) "Prince Caspian" might have fizzled because it consisted of not much more than one CGI battle scene after another, with little of the religious symbolism that infuses the death and resurrection of the lion god Aslan in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

"Dawn Treader" (the film) does point more emphatically to its religious subtext than "Prince Caspian" did. So, too, does the book. When Edmund Pevensie asks if Aslan exists in our world as well as in Narnia, the lion replies that he does, but "there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."
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