A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (2005)

August 21, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe (2005)

From the Chronicles of Riddick to the Chronicles of Narnia. We had been postponing watching the Narnia films for two reasons. One was that we didn’t yet own all of the old BBC adaptations from the Eighties. We wanted to do Narnia as another of our week-long projects but we didn’t own them all yet. Well We finally got the last films we needed to complete our collection but then there was another slight glitch. We had to figure out the timing because the BBC versions – being television miniseries – are all quite long and we couldn’t possibly review them on a Thursday or Tuesday. We’ve resolved that by deciding to watch a couple un-related films between the modern theatrical adaptations and the BBC made-for-TV ones, so now we’re off to spend some time in the mythical and magical land of Narnia.

This was another series that my father read to me and my sister when we were children. It’s perfect reading for a child like myself who was obsessed with fantasy realms. I loved any tales of people able to go into other worlds. For years afterwards I would try to walk through mirrors or wardrobes, and I was always disappointed when i found no Narnia or Oz or other lands beyond them. Of course as a child I didn’t understand anything about allegory and thank goodness for that because having my fantasy worlds polluted by Christian propaganda frankly sickens me.

Still – this movie and its brethren are probably the closest I’ll ever come to being a King of Narnia. The land is in good hands, though. Weta effects, the people behind the spectacular special effects and props for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings have been tasked with making Narnia real on the big screen and they do not disappoint.

Do I really have to go over the plot of the first Chronicles of Narnia story? This book was so much a part of my childhood that i can’t quite imagine not knowing how it goes. Durin World War Two children were sent out of London to estates in the country to get them away from the German blitzes. The children at the heart of this story are one such family. Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy find themselves in a huge country home belonging to a reclusive and somewhat peculiar professor. For the most part they are left to their own devices but the house is huge and old and filled with historical artifacts they are not allowed to touch.

Things seem pretty dull for them until, during a hide-and-seek game, Lucy hides in a wardrobe and discovers a magical land inside it. She walks through the wardrobe and into a land filled with snow that has been cursed by an evil witch so that it is always winter and never Christmas. She befriends a timid fawn named Tumnus, who is under orders from the White Witch to turn any humans he encounters over to her secret police but instead he decides to let Lucy go.

Lucy’s siblings don’t believe her wild tale of a magical realm inside a wardrobe, of course, and she is crestfallen to discover that it isn’t there for her to show to them. Soon she’s able to return to Narnia though, and Edmond follows her in. Edmond meets the White Witch and she charms him with promises of Turkish Delight and the possibility of being a prince and her heir if he will bring his siblings to her.

When at last all four children find themselves in Narnia they find themselves on an epic adventure. There is a prophesy that four human children, two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve, will defeat the White Witch and break the curse on the land. They find themselves on the run with a couple of talking beavers from the queen’s secret police, rushing to reach the Stone Table where they will meet the rightful ruler of Narnia – the not-at-all tame lion Aslan. Except that Edmond, ever the selfish third child, skulks off to the witche’s side in an attempt to curry her favor. So Aslan and the Narnian army raised in secret don’t have all four of the human children required to fulfil the prophesy. The witch, seeing her power fading in the face of that of Aslan, makes a desperate deal for Edmond’s life. She will release him if Aslan will sacrifice himself.

Of course this is the Christ allegory that C.S. Lewis made no attempt to disguise. Aslan’s whole death, rebirth and promise of emancipation for his kingdom and those faithful to him makes for a grand fairy tale and gives the story a grand and epic scale, but Lewis intended it as a way to introduce children to his faith and beliefs. That kind of indoctrination sits very badly with me, but I enjoy this tale nonetheless. If I hated a Christ allegory after all I couldn’t enjoy movies like The Matrix or Dark City. I like the power of the story, but even so that wasn’t what I was watching this movie for. I was watching it as a visit to Narnia, and on that level it is absolutely perfect.

The countryside is gorgeous. The large cast of digital talking animals look fantastic. The fawns and centaurs, being a blend of real human actors with digital legs, work perfectly. And what a stellar cast! The child actors they found to portray the Pevanzies embody the characters so well that I can’t imagine Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy being played by anybody else.

There’s a melancholy to this movie. At the end, when the children have to go back to Britain and leave Narnia behind after being kings and queens for years it breaks my heart. Those poor kids are me at the end of the movie – an adult who grew up believing in wonderful fantasy worlds rudly expelled back into an uncaring world. At least now that I own this on DVD I can go back to visit Narnia any time I want.

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August 21, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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