Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Lion, the Witch, and the Blockbuster

Netflix delivered Narnia just in time for the Easter weekend. I went to see it on my own on the big screen (since I missed my chance to see Goblet of Fire) but Janet hasn't seen it yet.

A friend of mine from the SKS wrote to me recently and asked, "Are you psyched about that C.S. Lewis movie coming out?" I laughed and wrote back: "Marcus, you and I are probably the only people on the planet who think of it as a C.S.Lewis movie . . . the rest of the world just sees Narnia."

I am a huge fan of the books, because it was for me a more compelling myth of death, resurrection, and redemption than the Christian tradition it is meant to allegorize. C.S. Lewis single-handedly held me in the Christian faith through my turbulent teens; he seemed to be the only believer who could talk sense, using reason without being a slave to it, honoring religious truth while still thinking really, really hard about it.

Sadly, I don't have much more to say than what most of the critics did. Everyone thought it was faithful to the book in content and in vision: even I kept catching myself thinking, "Gosh, that's exactly what I thought X would look like." And, of course, everyone had to say, "It ain't Lord of the Rings," but then again everyone knew that it wouldn't be . . . it's hardly fair to compare a children's story to an epic novel, no matter how many faithful fans follow after it.

A few things that did strike me (warning: spoilers ahead):
  • The initial setup for the movie was so perfect I was awestruck. None of the background about wartime England, and all the awful tensions that lurked in the background, are really laid out in the book -- they didn't need be, because that was the time in which Lewis lived and wrote. But the movie was so perfect at showing the entire context in such a short space . . . the complex relationships between all the children was set up in a mere ten minutes, and all of it done without much guidance from the book.
  • I especially liked the one scene with Edmund dashing back into the house to save the picture of his father, and Peter rushing in after him. It struck something in me, something archtypal . . . I had tears in my eyes, for reasons I didn't fully understand.
  • There was a little bit of patchiness in the extras . . . some of the satyrs looked like they had been done by the folks who did make-up for the original Star Trek. I suppose they poured all their effects budget into making Aslan so perfect. Which was probably an acceptable trade-off, because Aslan had to be perfect.
  • As far as the Animals went . . . they tried hard to give the Beavers the star billing, but the Fox came out on top in my book. Why is it that the minor characters (even the CGI ones) are turning in better performances than the stars? (I mean, I thought the kids did OK, but still . . .)
  • Was it just me, or did it seem suggestive of Western air power superiority when all the gryphons show up to bombard the forces of evil? And didn't you just feel a little thrill of excitement to see it anyway?
  • Susan had her token arrow-shot at the end of the battle -- one of the few details that wasn't really true to the book. I think the writers decided that they had to get at least one shot in there (along with the target practice earlier) just so the gift of the bow would seem less superfluous. Or maybe because Susan needed to be redeemed more as a character, since she was basically a prig and a pain in the ass in every other scene. (Which actually was true to the book -- Susan was the only one of the four children who eventually foresakes her Narnian memories in favor of the "real world.")
  • I loved that Rhino and Centaur making their final (and ultimately futile) charge to take out the White Witch. I especially liked that it was the two of them, together, making that last mad dash: you get a sense of that camraderie, that battlefield-bond between soldiers, and shared love for the Cause, that makes a battle more than mere repetative violence. If anything, the two of them upstaged Peter in his final showdown with the Witch.
  • The exchange between Edmund and his horse Phillip at the end of the movie was nice. It was a quiet, subtle way to show you how much Edmund had grown and developed . . . not in some showy display, but quietly, almost as an aside. I love it when a movie is brave enough to have a light touch.

Overall: quite good. It should have a solid franchise for the rest of the series.



Post a Comment

<< Home