Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Last night I saw an early screening of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." This is Andrew Adamson's version of the book, which I read for the first time only about four years ago. Dess did not come with me. I push her to see a lot of movies made out of classic books, but she drew the line at this one. She just objected to seeing this classic from her childhood made into a film. And with good reason: the previews, while interesting, had certainly been filled with spectacle rather than story. Yet the movie surprised me.

It will sound like an exaggeration, but I've been growing tired of new movies, and this one went a long way to restoring my faith in them. I've been growing distinctly unsatisfied, even a little repelled, by the books and movies of Harry Potter, for instance. New movies, from Hollywood at least, try to churn your internal excitement with gore and speed -- two things that have grown wearisome. And exciting books lack a sense of grace that I can't explain specifically. But halfway through this movie, I realized how grateful I was to finally see a new movie that built up its scenes with dialogue -- and with human, rather than merely visual, beauty. The filmakers said in our Q&A session after the movie that they didn't include any gore in the battle scenes because such events were about the emotions. For the first time in my life, I actually found myself agreeing with such an argument.

You see, I don't take refuge in old movies. I like them, but I really love new movies. Whatever I go to the movies for, I hope to get it at new films. Older films often have class, but they also sometimes just have stodginess, or dated style and content. I liked this film because it was a classical-type fantasy with a grace that felt modern. It was vigorous, and unafraid of spectacle -- but it had heart. And the best part is that you don't even know it until the movie's over. If you're thinking right in the middle of the film that it has heart, often what you're actually getting is sentimentality.

The religious aspects were no more played up than in the book, I think -- they were present, perhaps, even a little less. But the film was spiritually nourishing -- again, in a way that did not reveal itself as obvious.

There was a time when I was more of a conservative Christian; and quite in love with Harry Potter, which is said to be anti-Christian. Paradoxically, now that I'm growing disappointed with Harry, my Christian faith is becoming more liberal. But in some ways I'm more deeply connected to my faith -- perhaps because I've been through a lot of doubt in the last two years or so. Whatever the case, the more I embrace my faith, the more my politics shift gradually to the left -- and the more I love what some may call old-fashioned films. I just seem to feel the need for a movie that offers grace, dignity, and commitment in the face of doubt -- which is one way to describe the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Go see the film. It's not a religious movie, or an old-fashioned one, or a kiddie flick. It's just friendly to children and to adult faith, while being a spectacular film and an aesthetically smart one. Not a small achievement. It deserves to make a ton of money.


Blogger Andrew McGee said...

Thanks for the review!
I can't wait to see it. I've read all the Chronicles of Narnia I don't know how many times (years ago).
I know that as soon as I saw Lord of the Rings, I knew that it would actually be possible for a major studio (serious finacial funding) and a brilliant imaginative director to pull off The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe.
I too am getting tired of some of the films that are relying on so many special effects, CGI, pyrotechnics, explosions ad nauseam and have absolutely NO story. No memorable characters because of the lack of development due to poor "one dimensional" writing. The story is the story and no matter how much "eye candy" they add, it's not going to carry it. All the other elements are just icing anyway.
By the way, I found your blog by randomly searching believe it or not.
Thanks again!

P.S. God saved me a little over a year ago and it's been wonderful!

December 02, 2005 3:30 PM  

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