Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Narnia, the Movie

Last night my Bookman and I ventured out into the frosty night to view a pre-screening of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe movie. We thought it would be crowded so we arrived an hour ahead of time. There was a line but not a long one; the theater ended up only a little over half full. On our way in we got buzzed with a wand from the Disney security folks to make sure we didn't have any illegal recording devices. As expected, there were quite a few kids with their parents, but I'd say the majority of the audience were adults without children. The movie was visually appealing. The cgi Aslan was gorgeous (but Liam Neeson was the voice and Aslan had a sort of Scottish thing going on, very distracting). The guy they got to play Mr. Tumnus was good but he was also pasty white and sort of naked seeming. He had his hairy faun lower half then a naked upper body and a scarf around his neck. It was even stranger since he was the only one like that . I have nothing against naked man chests, but everyone else had some kind of clothing, even the centaurs. The movie stayed pretty close to the story, though they changed the beginning and made the housekeeper a grumpy mean witch and changed some of the locations of the action when the kids get to Narnia. There was also quite a bit of introduction. The movie opens with the Germans bombing London. In the book the kids arrive in the country and there is only one or two lines about why they are there. The movie was very violent. In the book the final battle is not detailed, you only see it when Aslan shows up and kills the witch. In the movie they drew it out and it looked oddly like a mini version of the battle for Helms Deep in Two Towers . And even though there was quite a bit of killing, there was no blood --no blood on swords and no blood on wounded people or creatures. Even when Peter kills the wolf and Aslan instructs him to clean his sword, we never see the bloody sword nor is there blood on Peter in spite of him ending up underneath the dead wolf. I think Disney did wrong to make the movie so violent and not show any blood. It didn't serve to make the violence any less real, it only served to glorify it more. I was also disturbed by the way the relationship between Peter and Edmund was portrayed. The two boys didn't truly make up until after the witch stabbed Edmund. It plays out as wars bring boys together and makes them men. As to the hubbub about the Christian aspects of the movie, it was very easy to overlook them. Clearly they are there, but a non-Christian viewer can see it as a lesson that self-sacrifice for the sake of love is the most powerful service you can perform. Of course, this can be disturbing on its own because the movie cuts back and forth between the battle and Aslan and it is clear that those fighting for the side of good are fighting for the love of Aslan and Edmund obviously sacrifices himself to save Peter. It comes off as being pro-war--for love of country, for love of God, for love of brother/king. I could go on and on. But I'll stop here. As a whole the movie was so-so. While it was beautiful to watch, it felt, as my Bookman suggested, like we'd seen it before.