Christian Themes Suffused in C.S. Lewis' Beloved Narnia Tale
- Wednesday, December 07, 2005
Being Faithful to the Wardrobe
And so the story unfolds as industry insiders claim the film to be a faithful adaptation of the book.
Michael Flaherty, president of Walden Media, the company that produced the film, was immediately aware of the responsibility that accompanied taking the tale from print to film. So his company adopted "faithful adaptation" as its mantra and named Gresham as co-producer.
"Any time we had any kind of question ... Douglas could actually reference conversations he had with C.S. Lewis," Flaherty added. "So that's when we knew we were doing everything we could to be faithful."
"[However] you're not going to see on the screen exactly the movements described in every frame of the book. You're not going to hear exactly the words," Gresham explained.
"But the main story .. is a faithful representation in the film medium of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,'" he added.
"If we successfully brought the book to film, then everything would be there," Flaherty said. "Whatever people bring to the book, they'll bring to the film," he added.
Beneath the Wardrobe
So what's really beneath the story that seems to fascinate Christians? Travers offers a detailed examination of the biblical parallels and Christian symbolism that permeate "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
According to Travers, when it comes to the Christian elements in the story, "Lewis responded by saying that ... he suffuses Christianity throughout the book."
For example, Travers compared Lewis' approach to writing fairy stories to a multi-colored tapestry. Just as rich blends of color and images are woven into a tapestry, so is Christianity woven into the story of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."
"[Therefore] Christianity is apprehended through the imagination and emotions before the intellect in [all seven books of] 'The Chronicles of Narnia' [series]," Travers said. "[So] by embedding the theology in the whole of the book, some people won't realize they're getting theology. Others, of course, will realize it and appreciate it."
Bewitchment of the Wardrobe
Since the Christianity in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" is embedded, many parents may immediately question its appropriateness because it includes evil, magic, violence and a witch.
"The question for parents is not whether they should allow their children to see the movie or read the book on that ground alone," Travers explained. "The question is, rather, how is the evil presented? Is it shown to be evil, or is it presented as attractive?
"Evil in Narnia is clearly very evil," he said. "It would be difficult to conceive of a child preferring the White Witch [who is selfish, cruel and nasty] to Aslan [the messianic lion]. ... On the other hand, good is presented as attractive in Narnia. Aslan is gracious, strong and loving. Peter, Susan, Lucy, and eventually even Edmund, rise to their highest powers under the influence of Narnia good."
In other words, good is victorious over evil as a result of the redemption brought to Narnia through the death and resurrection of Aslan. Furthermore, the magic is not to be understood as an occultic power but rather as a type of enchantment that brings to light the issue of law and grace.
"The other point to remember is that, unlike the 'Harry Potter' series, evil magic in Narnia is never praised and never victorious," Travers said. "Edmund's evil is pure arrogance and selfishness; it needs no magic to augment it.
"Further, the lines between Narnia and our world are clear. In this novel, it is a big wardrobe that provides entrance to the magical world of Narnia, and everyone knows when the human children have crossed from one world into another and back again. This, too, distinguishes 'Narnia' from 'Harry Potter.'"
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