spirits that speak


The Lion, the Witch, and the Summary of my thoughts

yes, if you've been reading my other blog (see links on the right), you'll know by now that i saw the first (hopefully not the last) installment of the narnia films. now, i will try to keep this post short so that you all have time to read the next one below this, but there's some background that i want to add.

i can't remember exactly when i first read the book, but it was quite some time ago. i have have enjoyed the writing of c.s. lewis for as long as i can remember and i think it's very effective. he has a way of capturing the audience that his books are intended for and holding their attention in a very enduring way...even after they have put the book down and are doing something else.

i some ways i think the child within him was always very much alive and didn't get suffocated by adult concerns at any point, like it is with some of us. instead, because he is so in touch with that child and what inspires the boy inside him, the narnia series is a group of books that you could read again and again and, i think, always find hope and encouragement in it.

this is really how the movie made me feel. while i didn't "cry" during either the really sad or really happy scenes, i was very frequently "misty eyed" through the entire movie because it was moving. the images were very real and confronted you with the concept that there is more to life than just what we know in our own little world.

i think i will have to watch the movie often because i came out of the theater feeling something i haven't felt in a very long time: there is hope. no matter what the battle or obstacle we face, there is the very good possibility that we will overcome and that there is a very real person who is on our side and has the power to bring about the kinds of things that we can't.

*possible spoiler alert* (skip this paragraph if you have never read the book and intend on soon seeing the movie...which is a sequence of action that really isn't recommended anyway). there are times (like when the witch wanted to claim the life of edmund the traitor) where aslan intervenes and is capable of making an arrangement with the witch that no one else really could to save edmund's life. but there are also times when aslan is comfortable with letting the children deal with their side of things (like when peter faced the maugrim, captain of wolves, and he declared "peter will have to fend for himself, this is his battle"). while it may seem unfair, i think God does the same thing. there is value in us fighting some of our own battles, but there are times when we need to call for His help and he intervenes on our behalf. then there are also times when we will fight our battles with Him at our side (if we ask Him to be there), and defeat life's difficulties that way). okay...so i opened a can of worms here...much more could be said about this, points and counterpoints, but won't...and i'm comfortable with that.

so i had a very positive experience with the movie in general. the cast was fantastic. i particularly liked peter and lucy the most out of the 4 children, but they were all very good. perhaps they could have gotten a deeper voice for aslan (or electronically deepened liam neeson's voice), but i'm fine with that (unlike friends i have who took major issue with that aspect). i thought the villains were very effective as well. the child in me was actually kind of scared of the wolves and that little dwarf at the witch's side was a complete jerk.

the only out-standing complaint i had about the movie was that there is a very significant (not in length, but in weight) section of dialogue from mr. beaver that occured just after the children went to his house that was missing from the movie. it was about what kind of lion aslan is. a little bit of the description sneaks its way in at the end of the movie (almost as though they sensed some of us would object to the whole thing not being in there), but it's mostly missing

except for that, the movie is quite faithful to the books and even includes a lot of the spiritual things that lewis wrote about in a not-so-covert way. it will quickly make its way into my DVD collection when it comes out...and by then i will have seen it at least another time, if not two!

(so much for trying to keep this short, read the next one anyway...even if you have to do it later)


  • Josh & I went on opening night with our friends and really enjoyed the movie. I will wait til it gets into the "cheap" theatres and take my older two to see it. I think they will really enjoy it.

    By Blogger Shiny Beamer, at 21:32  

  • i think so too. the great thing is that, much like the books, it doesn't require someone to be in a certain age group to enjoy it though. but you're wise to wait until it gets into the 2nd run theaters, edmonton movie prices are ridiculous!

    By Blogger johnny m, at 09:00  

  • Hi! I'm also waiting for this one to move to the "cheap" theatres! However, I was thinking of seeming "End of the Spear" in the regular theatre as I heard that half the profits are going back to the tribe and to evangelism .... have you hear this? Do know know where I can verify it? Any chance you'll be doing a review of EOTS? Jill

    By Blogger agapetos, at 10:38  

  • Excuse my nasty typos in my last comment!

    By Blogger agapetos, at 10:39  

  • i haven't heard anything like that about eots. however, it seems as though the company that produced it is a non-profit organization so it could be true. they're called every tribe entertainment.

    and the movie has generated plenty of controversy in the christian community already. of course, why wouldn't christians criticize and berate a movie like this from various angles. extremist christians sometimes appear to be cannibals...but that may be a more appropriate topic for my other blog.

    i'm not sure i will be doing a review for the movie. i guess it depends on whether or not i find it inspiring. i am looking very forward to seeing it though, along with another movie i heard about which is actually more of a supernatural drama/thriller...which i can't now remember the name of. that sucks.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 09:38  

  • the other movie i was thinking of is called nightwatch. you can look it up on imdb.com. that one is definitely not for everyone...

    By Blogger johnny m, at 10:11  

  • finally saw the movie. not sure how to respond. as you could probably anticipate i have much that i could criticize about it (most of this has to do with the quality of special effects). of course there is also much to appreciate. the one thing that i left thinking was how effectively this movie conveyed the large movements held within this story. a primary example of this is that aslan's death and resurrection occupied a short space of time in the movie (understandably so). the christian story is marked by deep movements of absence and death. i am not sure the movie captured this to the extent that it could of (here the loss of gandalf in LOTR is a good example the possibility of carrying on with loss and then surprised by return).
    again, i understand the limitations of the genre but there are some things that only a greater sense of time can drive home. anyway, there you go johnny. have at me.

    By Anonymous daved, at 23:02  

  • it's funny. the way you ended that made it sound like you anticipated pouncing.

    well, hopefully this isn't perceived as a pounce.

    i have heard similar things from many people about the special effects. i'd have to hear more specific comments from you to know what you mean, but i really didn't have a problem with the quality of effects in this film. to say that is to suggest that WETA either didn't try as hard here as they did on LOTR, they didn't care as much, they didn't know how to approach this one, or [insert your own fourth option here]. i had little/no trouble accepting the special effects and their level of believability. perhaps you're just too jaded ;-)

    regarding your example of less effective use of time for monumental events...i don't think your comparison is good. to be fair, LOTR waited until the second movie to bring Gandalf back in. it would hardly be fitting to do so with Narnia. while i realize this isn't quite what you were getting at, i am simply working with the framework you provided. it's just not a great example because LOTR is 1 story stretched over 3 books (or films) and LW&W is 1 story in 1 book (or film).

    to be fair, considering that the aslan death/resurrection is likely an alegory for the death/resurrection of Christ, the new testament doesn't really spend a lot of text on the events that occured between the burial of Christ and the discovery of his resurrection. while the event is given a lot of weight, few words are used to do so.

    actually, this is one place where i thought the film did just as good a job with the death/resurrection of aslan as the book did. i actually came away from it thinking this was the place where their adaptation was best.

    i suppose it's no surprise to you that i disagreed with your initial thoughts, but there's the summary of it...

    By Blogger johnny m, at 09:43  

  • yah, i'm really not wanting to be too hard on this particular aspect of the film. perhaps it was more that it got me thinking generally that somethings need time to fully appreciate.

    my concern was that if great attention was not paid to this aspect of the film it could be percieved as just another "blip" on the way to the hero's triumph. of course this is what we expect in movies anyway (million dollar baby being a possible good recent exception).

    if we can accept that LW&W is allegorical. what is the triumph in the movie? it is not the eschaton is it? if so the movie fails horribly to account for human struggle. given the final scene with aslan wandering off it of course is not the eschaton. however, christ's victory is precisely THROUGH the cross. doesn't translating that in later victory in battle cheapen this aspect? i'm not married to any of these ideas, just rambling.

    there are great moments of victory in christian faith. however, i believe we need to sensitive to our context. western culture demands such a conclusion. this is not the experience many who struggle boldly with the burden of the cross.

    as for special effects. there was one point when i think the two girls were riding on aslan's back and the background looked those tv scenes when someone is driving a car and they put some absurd background in the rear window. i almost let loose a audible chuckle when i saw that. in all honestly i do bring too much baggage in from other movies and media when i watch. i suppose it is part of my interpretive grid.

    By Anonymous daved, at 12:51  

  • first of all "interpretive grid" is a ridiculous exuse for not allowing your imagination to stretch beyond your own previous experience. if you thought i would just let you off the hook with that, you were horribly wrong. if there were people who missed such "glaring" laziness, i think that those who caught it were likely looking to hard at the special effects to see the meaning in those scenes.

    also, i'm daring to respond to your comments by stressing that you're assuming too much by expecting that the movie will echo the same important parts of the book. we don't know where the filmmakers stand on any of these issues.

    that said, as much as i hate cliches i think that "a picture says a thousand words" is applicable here. i felt that the death/resurrection scenes were given just the right amount of weight for a film. to describe it as a "blip" would be to criminally understate how it was portrayed.

    however, as unlike me as it is to agree with you, you may be on to something with the triumph being in battle. in battle, we see the people overcoming their own weaknesses and putting their lives on the line to make sure they all make it through. this cannot be seen to be without aslan's help, and i believe the film says so.

    back to my point, giving the triumph to the humans in this case is where the film likely differs from the book (perhaps only slightly, mind you). all we can expect from the narnia films is that they attempt to re-tell the stories from the books, not that they honor the same principles. those who expect otherwise may as well avoid the films.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 10:14  

  • wow, you're pretty fiesty on this one. perhaps we need to take this on standardrant. first off, i'm not asking to be let off the hook. films are a part of our cultural make-up, so i will continue to read them within that context.

    i also was not "looking for" gaps in the special effects, for some reason they just struck me.

    i don't really feel the need to press the death/res sequence. it just made me think about how much can be effectively done with a given time frame (not to say that it can't be don well).

    i do appreciate that you tend to be able to let a film stand or fall on its own integrity. a good quality.

    By Anonymous daved, at 09:17  

  • seems like the discussion is dying of its own volition, and that's appropriate.

    however, i will add that you misread my previous comments. i didn't say you were looking for special effects problems, i said you were looking too hard at the special effects. there's a difference. what it boils down to is the fact (and yes, i'm making assumptions here) that you were looking at that scene and seeing some computer effects. i was looking at that scene and seeing 2 girls riding on the back of a lion. hopefully you see my emphasis.

    also, i am criticizing the fact that you stick to your "interpretive grid" too much. if all we ever do is view current films based on our experiences with others, we are allowing too much bias. i don't deny that bias will always color our view, i just emphasize that intentionally allowing a certain type of bias is a mistake and will cause you to miss things (i.e. too much filter).

    i think we're clearly at a stalemate on the film's approach to aslan's sacrifice and return. i am adamant that they used their time frame just right and communicated the importance of that sequence effectively. you feel strongly that the sequence left much to be desired and fell unreasonably short of the goal they should have been striving for (or i'm reading too much into what you're saying).

    if i have adequately summarized where we're at, we may just have to agree to disagree.

    By Blogger johnny m, at 10:25  

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