Hear Him Roar! I Did!A Review of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
By Rebecca GraceAFA JournalDecember 9, 2005
(AgapePress) – I was one of select group to have the honor of hearing Aslan roar from the big screen last weekend during a pre-screening of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And mind you, his roar was loud and clear as a tale of wonder and majesty unfolded throughout the film.
There was a rumble of excited voices as a steady stream of anxious viewers wearing everything from cowboy hats to wool toboggans made their way into a theater designed for about 300 people. It appeared to be filled to capacity as viewers readied themselves for what many expect to be the motion picture blockbuster of the year.
If you’re one of those with such high hopes, you can rest assured that your expectations will not only be met but possibly exceeded as you watch the world of Narnia come to life during 125 minutes of theatrical grandeur. The film, which has been 13 years in the making, releases nationwide today, just in time for the Christmas season.
A Biblical DepictionIt is based on the literary masterpiece of the same title written by the late C.S. Lewis and first published in 1950. The author, considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, wrote the story as a supposal.
“The question was: Suppose there was a land or world where the animals could talk with the people and they lived in friendly harmony with mythological creatures like fauns and centaurs …. And suppose somehow evil managed to get into that world, and God had to save that world like He had to save this one,” explained Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson. “How might this come about? What might it have been like? How would it have happened?
“His answer to that ? supposal was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” which is a story of four children who stumble into a magical world through the doors of a wardrobe hidden away in an old professor’s house.
As a result, Christianity is suffused throughout the story making it more than just a fantasy tale but rather a biblical parallel to the death and resurrection of Christ. It is also a very real depiction of temptation and sin, love and forgiveness, mercy and redemption, and Law and grace. I can thankfully say that Disney and Walden Media respectfully included these Christian elements in the movie.
Faithful to the MeaningPrior to my viewing of the movie, Michael Flaherty, president of Walden Media, assured me that the movie was a faithful adaptation of the book and whatever spiritual elements I took from the book I would also be able to take from the movie. He is a man who is true to his word.
I must admit that there was a particular point during the movie when I began to squirm in my seat thinking they were about to blow it in depicting the resurrection of Aslan. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that they got it right. They really got it right! And that means a lot.
In fact, they went above and beyond to include a line in the movie that is taken directly from a well-known passage in Scripture. It was not part of the book but was a powerful addition to the film, as were several other clever alterations.
Viewers who are avid-fans of the book and especially close to the content of it will be quick to notice a number of changes in the film. Some parts are eliminated while others are added. However, all of the changes are made in good taste and are done so as a means of dramatizing the story so that it works for the big screen. In no way do the dramatizations change the meaning of the message that is at the heart of the story. Rather they enhance it.
For example, the film has the perfect touch of humor prompting audiences to laugh at random times throughout the movie. The humor is mostly conveyed through the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who are highlights of the film. The comical elements are never corny but well-balanced and a delightful facet of the film that can be rather heavy at times.
“Not Safe …”Since the climax of the story line is the death and resurrection of Aslan who triumphs over the evil White Witch, many viewers — specifically parents of young children — may be skeptical about the violence and evil that are central to parts of the film. Both elements are handled very tastefully with children in mind.
For example, there is a battle scene between Aslan’s warriors and the White Witch’s army that lasts about 20 minutes. The opposing sides are seen attacking each other with spears and swords. Some blood is seen, but the intensity of the battle is mild more so than gory and once again depicted in a way that is tactful yet necessary to the purpose of the story.
However, some of the contents may be inappropriate for children under six. For example, the White Witch’s creatures are very grotesque and conniving, especially during the scene where Aslan is put to death. Although the Witch’s sword is not shown going directly into Aslan, the intensity of the moment is felt and heard. Therefore, I encourage parents to evaluate the maturity of their children and even screen the movie prior to their children seeing it if there is any question about its appropriateness.
It is also important to note that the portrayal of the White Witch, who is the representation of evil, is a very accurate depiction of Satan. Her actions and her appearance are enticing in the beginning but repulsive by the end of the film. Although extremely mean and evil, she is not portrayed as the typical green-faced, wart-nosed witch. There is a sense of sinful appeal about her, but her character causes viewers to shudder at the same time.
Even more startling than the White Witch is her team of ferocious wolves who prowl around in an attempt to steal, kill and destroy. There are two times where the wolves jump out unexpectedly, startling viewers.
The movie, which involves a talented cast of actors and an inspiring soundtrack, is rated PG because of these themes. It also includes brief scenes of the Witch’s cleavage and of the Professor smoking a pipe as well as what sounded like one use of the Lord’s name in vain.
“But Good”But all in all, the elements of violence and evil, as well as the very mild obscenities, do not outweigh a message of hope and redemption brought to life through the world of Narnia where children enter a fantasyland of wonder and fun only to learn a life-changing lesson.
A similar lesson is likely to be learned from simply watching the movie and allowing oneself to connect with its meaning.
“There were some spiritual moments [in the movie] for me,” said Lynn Noe of Nashville, Tennesse, who brought her five-year-old daughter Abi to see the movie. It was also a very moving experience for Abi as she watched Aslan die and come back to life.
“She is very tender,” Noe said about her daughter. “She is still crying [and not out of fear]. She doesn’t have the words for it yet.”
But Abi’s four-and-a-half-year-old friend Bailey did. “My favorite part was when the lion turned back alive!” Bailey said with a smile.
“It was the best movie I’ve seen all year,” added Bailey’s mother, Kate Sage. “I loved it!”
As did the rest of the audience who erupted in applause as the credits began to roll.
Rebecca Grace, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is staff writer for AFA Journal, a monthly publication of the American Family Association.
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