12 December, 2005

The Wonders of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

    It was like being five again.  Lucy wandered into Lantern Waste and her eyes expressed the wonder I felt upon first reading that moment in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Simply put, the movie was wondrous.  I felt transported.  It was the most entertaining film I've seen all year and that's not an exaggeration.  At the end of the film, I accidentally started a round of applause when I clasped my hands together with pure, unadulterated joy and I'm not sorry I did.  Nearly everyone was wide-eyed with delight when they left the theater and more than one young man I know had the urge to engage in a bit of sword play.

    Though I enjoyed it immensely, there were some things that the adaptation changed or left out that I felt distracted from the original intent of the story.  For one, Edmund is far too sympathetic before his repentance.  Lewis makes it clear that Edmund is as selfish as they come, deceitful and filled spite.  The movie makes him a sort of unwillingly selfish character, forced to be so because of Peter's superiority complex. This makes him too sympathetic from the beginning, makes Peter less noble, and, most importantly trivializes Aslan's sacrifice.
    While we're on the topic of Aslan, he should have been bigger.  Aslan needs to inspire awe from the first moment you look at him.  Not just a "Whoa, that's a lion!" awe, but a fall-down-on-your-knees-with-reverence awe.  And, while the scene at the Stone Table was certainly powerful, it would have been more so had the writers kept intact what Lewis thought to be so important that he repeated it at least five times: Aslan's complete submission to the White Witch.  Lewis repeatedly wrote how Aslan could have easily killed everyone present, but remained silent and did not resist.  In the movie, there was some shying from the ropes and lifting of the lip as if to bite or growl.  Aslan's submission is one of the most important parts of the story.  He was so committed to sacrificing himself for Edmund -- and, indeed, all of Narnia -- that he didn't even give a hint of resistance.  His not-so-submission made him too normal and less worthy of awe.
    But I fear Peter got the worst of it when he was adapted for the film.  Somehow he became the token unwilling hero who becomes the great king in the end.  I understand the writers were trying to give his character a greater arc, but it there was nothing smooth about it.  Peter got stuck in the unwilling rut for WAY too long.  He was so unwilling, he didn't treat Aslan with respect and even seemed whiny at times and preoccupied with sending his brother and sisters home, even though he knew they were to be king and queens of Narnia with him.  Then, all of a sudden (about the time the Witch mortally wounded Edmund) he became the great hero, fighting for his Narnia.
    This brings me to one of the most irritating parts of the film.  During the battle, when it seems clear that Aslan's forces are going to be defeated, Peter tells Edmund to take the girls and go home (something that never happened in the book).  Edmund starts to obey his brother, the High King of Narnia, but when he sees the White Witch turning his comrades to stone right and left, he decides to go after her.  The beaver reminds him of Peter's command and Edmund responds with, "He's not king yet."  This is the most warped view of the book in the entire movie.  If the writers had just left Peter's newfound army-of-one attitude out of the film, this (among other things) would have never been an issue.  In the book, Peter calls Edmund a hero.  In the thick of the battle (in which they were BOTH fighting) Edmund saw how the Witch was turning their army to stone with her wand and he took it upon himself to break the wand, nearly getting himself killed in the process, but turning the tide of the battle.  Peter rightly calls him a hero for it.  There's nothing heroic about his insubordinate actions in the film. They only serve to show how his character never really changed, which is very annoying and nearly ruins the story.

    But, like I said, the story is pretty much intact and the movie is so captivating that the little annoyances don't really matter.  I highly recommend this film to anyone, but especially those who have read the book.  (I actually went with one person who did not read the book and, after the movie, she told us that she was a little confused, but she enjoyed it very much.)
    Go see it.


  1. britt, that was awesome. You wrote out all my feelings for the movie's bad points, which I consider huge, and nearly unforgiveable, and if the rest of the movie wasn't so good, I would be sorely dissapointed in the movie, instead of just disappointed. alas. :-)

  2. C.S. Lewis' step-son (Joy's son) oversaw the entire movie. (I believe he was the assistant producer?) I saw an interview with him this past Sunday and he is thrilled with how it turned out. He couldn't be happier. And he has always criticized anything he didn't like that had to do with his step-father's work.

    I also thought it was amazing! I've read each of the books at least twice and I saw no problem with this adaptation. It was the best movie I've ever seen!!!

    Just enjoy it, Brit!

  3. I absolutely hated the book when I read it as a child, but after seeing the movie, I want to reread it and see if I like it better this time around. I loved the movie far more than I expected to.