101

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid, completely oblivious to the Christian overtones. Years later, someone made casual mention of it and the whole series reset itself in my mind as “Lord of the Rings for kids and with Jesus”. It was not until seeing the movie that I really took in the more complex themes relating to war and dictatorship.

It’s pretty clear that the cinematic version wanted to highlight the warfare aspect as much as possible. The first two scenes, depicting zee Churmens bombing suburban London and kids being shipped out to the country with labels on their chests to identify them to the strangers who will act as their new stewards, extrapolate the time-and-place setting which was identified in the book in a single sentence, seeming in the text more of an inconvenience than actual danger. Was this the kind of anti-war statement that seems to be popping up more often in recent movies (Episode III, War of the Worlds), or was it just added for effect? Couldn’t tell ya.

Anyway, the final battle between the big WETA-garbed forces of Narnia was kicked off by griffins dropping rocks on the bad-guy army, the imagery directly parallelling the shots of the German bombers at the beginning of the movie. The Nazis and the forces of Aslan compared? Not as black-and-white as you would expect from a kid’s movie.

The Thomas character is disturbing for more than one reason. Firstly, here’s this bare-chested demi-god whose kind is known for promiscuity and deviance making friends with a six-year-old. Creeptastic. More interesting, though, is his decision to free Lucy and the repercussions of that choice. His sense of rightness and his fear of the Secret Police battle within him, and when he picks the former, he pays the price.

Thomas’s story reads like something out of Nepal or Iraq, and it isn’t the only instance in the movie which reminded me of modern stories of life under a fascist dictator or oppressive occupying force. The fox (who died despite Edmund’s efforts to placate the Witch), the beavers (who escape the Secret Police via a tunnel dug from their home, only to find their safehouse captured), and the White Witch’s treatment of Edmund (promising him power and delight until his usefulness wore out) might as well have been plucked directly from the pages of a 1930-to-today history text. The moral here is that when a powerful and cruel government is in place, your actions, right or wrong, have absolutely no influence on your life or the lives of those you care for. Apparently all you can do is wait for Jesus to come back.

While I enjoyed the movie, I found these themes depressing and unresolved. I’d be curious to go back and read the book to see just how much of this was inlaid over the text and how much is from the source. If I do, I’ll keep you posted. After all, I know you’re just dying to read another freshman English essay here on B A Start.

5 thoughts on “101

  1. Scott

    You’ve decided it for me. I’m not going to see it. It’s not about the war. I think old Clive wanted to tell children that life is a cycle of good and evil, and no matter how bleak your circumstances seemed, you should never give up hope. Religion or not, the theme stays the same.

    Griffins? Really?

    Reply
  2. Greg

    I think the bombing imagery was the kid using his real life experiences to help him win a goofy pretend battle, not necessarily likening the good guy army to nazis.

    I think one of the most valid points Lewis accidentally made was that it’s all make-believe.

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