Friday, December 09, 2005

I went to Narnia last night. The experience was quite enjoyable. I think as a child I would have adored this movie on the same level as Star Wars (maybe I would have had a crush on Peter back then, like I did Luke Skywalker). Let me tell you, when I came home and Pope rushed down the stairs to greet me, I half-expected to hear him speak, but it was only indignant mews at being left all alone for the day.
It's a childrens' movie, made from a childrens' book, but their creatures and battle scenes are still quite gruesome (albeit bloodless). The scene with the Stone Table is chilling, even though you know what will happen the next day.
Jon told me later that he overheard some mothers discussing the movie. One said that she was seeing the movie before she let her children watch it because she wanted to know how the parallels between the book/movie and the Christian story are treated.
Why the concern? Shouldn't kids just be allowed to read the books, see the movie, without the religious metaphors being shoved down their throat? When they are ready, they will begin to see the parallels (which are metaphorical, not allegorical), but only then. Let the books be books. That is how they approached the movie: make the movie true to the books, and whether the audience sees the parallels or not is up to them.
When your children are young, they will admire the Pensieves for their courage, their kindness, their willingness to help even when all seems lost. They will like Aslan a lot because he is good, in the way that spring returning to Narnia is good, and the perpetual winter without Christmas is bad. Aslan shows his love by sacrificing himself in Edmund's stead--he thinks of others before himself. Aren't these all good lessons to take from a story?
I have nothing wrong with churches and Christian parents talking to their kids about the Christian metaphors in Narnia, but they should do so only after kids have been allowed to digest the stories for themselves, to take delight in the surface story before slowly discovering the underlying meanings. It's like hot chocolate--they'll taste the chocolate quickly, then later the warmth and sweetness will fill them through and through for a long time.
In a side note, I found this story amusing:
In response to a little boy's concern that he loved Aslan more than he did Jesus, Lewis wrote: “Tell Laurence from me, with my love, … [He] can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before. … I don’t think he need be bothered at all. God knows all about the way a little boy’s imagination works (He made it, after all) … .”


dwain said...

I'm hearing very mixed reviews about Narnia. The reviews seem to be divided into 2 camps of opinions and people: Xians and younger fans love them, but secular adults are finding them redundant with their proximity to LotR. Do you think that's a fair judgment of the camps?

I must disagree with you about Narnia as a metaphor rather than as an allegory. Despite Lewis' protests against allegory, he created a painfully blatant one, rivaled only by Bunyan's. It's not that I mind allegory, but I do think it's rather disingenuous of the filmmakers to deny it as foundational to the film. My opinion, of course.

Laura said...

That is a fair judgment. I don't think it's fair to make comparisons between LoTR and Narnia (but that's wishful thinking, considering both were filmed in New Zealand and special effects for both were done by the same people), particularly because Narnia is thoroughly a children's story (how else can you believe that a young kid like Peter could become the High King?) and as such, not on the same level as LoTR.
Jon's argued for the allegorical side, too (and he's a scientist! what does he know about literature?!?! :) ) so I relent, only saying that the definition for allegory that I learned was that every single thing in the story is symbolic of something else. So who is Lucy, who is Susan? Who is Mr. Tumnus? etc. etc.
I have to say this, if I had ever not liked the movie, I would have still loved Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. The other thing I saw her in was Constantine, where she played an androgynous Archangel Gabriel (or Michael?), and she was an interesting actress to watch.