Monday, December 12, 2005


I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe twice in the past three days. I also re-read the book between viewings. My imagination has enjoyed the adventures!

I enjoyed the movie very much. The little actress who played Lucy nailed the part. How adorable was she! The animation of the creatures was marvelous. I wanted to intertwine my fingers in Aslan's beautifully flowing mane. I was not surprised that the film took some liberties, adding scenes and so forth. On the whole, I was impressed. Also, especially after reading the book again, it was interesting to me just how many of the lines were taken straight from the pen of C.S. Lewis.

However, two elements from the book were left out and I personally missed them very much.

The first was my favorite line in the entire book! If you're familiar with the book, you probably know the one I'm talking about... The Beavers are talking about Aslan for the first time and all of the children have an immediate and viceral reaction to his name--warm and thrilling for all of them but Edmund. They inquire about this one that they're supposed to recognize but know nothing about.
"Is--is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion--the Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan, "I'd thought he was a man. Is he--quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

That concept of 'not safe' but good didn't come across as clearly in their conversation (or in the movie) as I would have liked. Coming face to face with the King can be intimidating and even scary. But when you are assured that his goodness rules, that meeting is a fear which can be faced.

Some will say that the line was somewhat modified to become the one at the end of the movie, but that was not appropriate in my opinion. First of all, "tame" is not the same as "safe". Second, there is already reference to him not being tame at the end of the book, but in a completly different context. Also, the setting in the Beavers' house is one in which ideas of Aslan are being discovered and considered for the first time. To include the "but he's good" line after they've already experienced his goodness contradicts the reason to discuss the matter in the first place--that they have no first-hand knowledge of him and must trust that he is good, even though they are afraid.

The second element that was missing is what the professor of my college C.S. Lewis class called The Resurrection Romp. Moments after Aslan comes back to life he takes the time to play with Lucy and Susan. The book describes leaping, laughing, chasing, rolling, wrestling, tossing, catching, scrambling, diving, and playing. 100% pure FUN. Only after that do they get "to business", which includes the girls' ride on his back. Even that ride wasn't shown with as much excitement as the book portrays. Aslan's leaps and his speed, as recorded in the story, indicate that he was almost flying at times. The ride the girls take in the movie seems pretty toned-down in comparison to what I imagined while reading the book. They could have done a better job of showing that, even in the midst of a present and very real war, Aslan values enjoyment and the pure ecstacy of being alive, so much that it is his first priority is to play once he comes back to life. C.S. Lewis wrote The Chronicles of Narnia to show that imagination, adventure, fun, and curiosity define the Christian experience of new, abundant life. I wish The Resurrection Romp had been included in the movie to demonstrate that reality more clearly.

While I would have loved to see those two elements included in the movie, I definitely think that it was a well-produced, well-told film version of the book. Go see it!


APN said...

Well then, I guess I won't have to write this post on my personal blog! You took note and brilliantly commented upon the two largest, most distinct discrepancies between the work of literature and the work of cinema. I'm just going to link your blog to mine and force people to go read what you've written. It's simpler that way and gets people reading your material as well. HAH!

Tmproff said...

Another thing I missed was when Aslan was talking about his Father (I believe he named it the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea). There is no reference in the movie to Aslan's Father.

Ruth said...

But he did say something to the effect of "I was there when the deep magic was written." (not that that was in the book, but it hints at the same idea as his relationship with the Emperor...)

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with all of you. Thank you, Ruth - you have succinctly and thoughtfully voiced the exact things that were running through my mind the other night. I am not sure what their motivation, if any, was in leaving these two sections out - but like you, they are my favorite parts of the book, so they were sorely missed. It was still a great movie, and I will likely see it again - hopefully this time without thinking "That's not what happens there. Hey - where did that line come from? Why didn't they say..."


Dave said...

Yes! I now remember the first line, though it was the playful romp through the stone statues that I missed from the movie. Unfortunately the character of aslan, though kind, seemed rather stodgy and serious. Thanks for pointing that out.

Irraschenal Jason said...

A good review. That's high praise coming from me.

Still, I think you missed something that most folks don't seem to talk about or mention that is missing from the film. The reference that the queen is a daughter of Lillith not Eve. Can I ask you why you didn’t mention this?