Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Sorry for missing the post on Friday. We were staying with the family. With nine adults, one baby and five dogs under a single roof it was rather hectic. Luckily, my parents have Christmas cussed and thanks to their hard work, as always, we had a great time. I hope all readers enjoyed a very happy and peaceful Christmas.

Yesterday, my wife and I took advantage of the parents being able to babysit and slipped off to the cinema. Our choice was The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I have to admit that it was a long time ago since I enjoyed a film as much as this. It was faithful to the novel which is a fine yarn in itself. The cast were excellent, especially the four children who were almost the only human leads in it. They had to act without much idea what the finished product would look like. Tilda Swinton was a fine White Witch, sexy and scary at the same time. Finally, the special effects were amazing. You are supposed to suspend disbelief at the movies but here, I hardly had too. I really couldn't believe what I was seeing. They say that fur is the hardest thing to model on computers. This movie has acres of furry animals and they all look absolutely perfect. I was stunned by how much better LWW looked than Lord of the Rings just a couple of years ago. Also, while LOTR was a sprawling epic, this was a small scale film with a high level of intimacy. I never felt the characterisation in LOTR was much good (it wasn't much shakes in the books either). LWW's four children were real people you have sympathy for. I felt so bad for poor Edmund in a way I never did about Boromir or Gollum.

A lot of ink has been spilled over LWW's religious subtexts. Rather nicely, village atheists Philip Pullman and Polly Toynbee have made themselves look very stupid (links to their stupidity). When I first read the books, I was the product of a Christian education and totally missed all the Christian imagery. When I reread the series aged 16 I was a confirmed atheist and, if anything, enjoyed them even more. Of course, redemption is a mainstay of many Hollywood movies, especially action films when there always seems to be a character who started the whole thing off (released the monster, pressed the wrong button, was out for a quick buck) who is redeemed by a heroic death. Likewise, the hero, like Aslan, always saves someone by facing certain death and then, just when we think all is lost, reappearing without a scratch. So don't loose sleep over Narnia. The main emotion I remember as a kid was gut-aching envy for the children who got to go to Narnia while I had to stay at home.

In short, see this movie. It is great family entertainment.

Comments or questions? Post them at Bede's dedicated yahoo group.

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