21 December 2005

Narnia

Spoiler Alert - I'm going to complain!

Update - Here is a review at Amy Loves Books that says it even better!

Okay ... I'm probably the only "Christian" in the land who is complaining about the latest, greatest thing since Jesus. But yes, I'm going to. This movie is a Disney travesty of the book. I say this as an aficianado of the "real" Narnia. I say this as someone who gaped with anticipation at the trailers a year ago. I say this as someone who was breathless for three years running each December when a new Lord of the Rings movie came out. But this movie was a dud.

It began in the beginning. I don't need to be hit over the head with foreshadowing of why Edmund is angry, impulsive and "sinful." Clive handled him more delicately and one would think that using the medium of the big screen the writers for Walt could have too.

Beware Narnia lovers everywhere, when you attend this movie the credits roll "Based upon the book by C.S. Lewis," and should have read "Loosely based..." The screenwriters took great liberties with the book and did nothing to enhance it.

Other complaints have to do with techniques used to film Aslan's resurrection from the dead. I'm sorry, Lewis didn't have Thomas Kinkade in mind when he wrote that scene ... mostly because Kinkade had yet to be born. In fact, there were several scenes in the movie that Kinkade seemed to have painted and that made me want to (well, I'll stop there in the interests of decency).

The Stone Table was not based upon Stonehenge ... no how ... no way. That does not make any sense. UPDATE: I forgot ... This was a huge oversight on the part of the screenwriters. They are not mythologists, that is clear. It bugged me to no end. You DON'T ride Unicorns!! Ever. No one ever rides unicorns. It's ... like ... a rule and it cannot be broken.

And here's my final critique. However, I must also critique the book here, because this was faithful to the book. It was the scene where Aslan presents himself to be sacrificed. In the movie and (to a lesser extent) in the book, all the forces of evil come out to celebrate and participate in the killing. But here Lewis (in the book) gets himself mixed up. Because if Aslan is the Christ-figure, Lewis knew as well as I know that evil didn't kill Christ. What killed Christ was, as Edmund Burke said, good men doing nothing. Evil men did not come out and party at the cross. Good men and women did. Men and women like you and me. The people who cheered and jeered Jesus on the via Dela Rosa and at Calvary were not twisted evil figures, they looked just like me ... and you.

3 Comments:

Blogger kate said...

Okay, hm.
Well, I liked it.
Is it bad to make a scene picturesque in a movie? I'm not sure why. And, I guess you're right about Stonehenge. But I didn't pick up on that in the movie, so I don't think it was overridingly distracting.
And yet ... I didn't LOVE it, like I LOVED the LotR flix. I figure it's just a different kind of story. My only beef was that I always pictured Lucy as a blonde, but the little actress they used won me over.
Perhaps it's partly a case of low expectations and great fears that they would do horribly Disney things to the movie. I just don't feel that they did. I'm especially impressed that they retained so much Britishness. It's a victory if a) people have the right accents, and b) they haven't Americanized it. Both seemed true.

12/23/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

You can like it ... I agree with you on the part about retaining the British-ness of it. They did do a good job with that. I was just appalled at how heavy-handed they got with the symbolism. Even Lewis (who was pretty heavy handed himself) was more delicate and more nuanced. Evil is very ordinary and very seductive (as Edmund's early encounter's with the White Witch are meant to convey). Aslan was a lot scarier and less cuddly. I'm at a point where I'm starting to resent this notion that things Christian must also be cloyingly sweet. Because here's the thing: Jesus wasn't. He was not sweet. He was not cute. In the famous words of Tumnus to Lucy, "He's not safe, but he is good." And that did not come through and that's what I'm annoyed about.

In terms of a movie, for a movie's sake ... yeah ... it was good. But it made my teeth hurt it was so sweet.

I did love the White Witch's hair and her wardrobe tho!! They were awesome. If I were braver, I'd grow my hair out into dreds.

12/23/2005 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Croghan said...

Well, I have to admit I loved it! :-) Oh well. And I really don't think they diverged that much from the book, having listened to half the unabridged audiobook before seeing the flick, and finishing the listen now. (I, of course, read it several times as a young'n.) The most notable changes seem to be the addition of some more action scenes, which one can hardly be surprised about. I do agree that spelling out Edmund's motivation like that was unnecessary, but it didn't bother me. Nor did the imagery, whether Stonehengian or Kinkadian. I found it pretty moving, actually, a couple of days before Christmas. Then again, the most surefire way to jerk tears from me is through cinematic melodrama. And true, you don't ride unicorns--but beavers don't eat meat, and in the book they were obsessed with ham, so what are you going to do. :-) But I liked it. But not as much as LotR.

On Aslan as a Christ metaphor, though, it's best not to think toooo hard about that one. The difference you note is an important one, but more fundamentally, someone recently pointed me at an excellent essay that opined (rightly, I think) that a lion is a terrible representation of Christ. Should have been a donkey, maybe, and a poorly regarded one at that. There are lots of problems with Narnia as theology, but as a moving adventure story with a clear message of redemption, there's hardly anything like it.

12/28/2005 10:57:00 AM  

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