The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

Read this document on Scribd: Lion Witch and the Wardrobe film review

Directed by Andrew Adamson
Screenplay by Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Book by CS Lewis
Genre: Action/Adventure/ Drama/Family/Fantasy
Rating: PG for battle sequences
Duration: 140 mins

Someday you will be old enough to start reading (watching) fairy tales again.
—preface to The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

A Christian Appreciation

(Warning: Contains spoilers for those not familiar with the plot)

The film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW), like its source, has a universal appeal, regardless of one’s creed. The story is a fantasy adventure of four children who discover beyond a wardrobe the magical world of Narnia, filled with creatures beyond their imagination – talking animals and mythical creatures like fauns and centaurs. Narnia however is cursed by the evil White Witch, to be in perpetual winter – “but never Christmas.” Under the guidance of the noble and mighty lion, Aslan, the children battle the Witch to free Narnia from her spell forever.

Lewis’ imaginary world of Narnia is so magical that it took more than half a century since the publication of LWW in 1950 for it to be brought to the big screen. One likely reason is that only today’s film technology and the latest advances of CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) would be able to make Narnia and her inhabitants as realistic as possible. Though the film does not include everything in the book, and there are even slight changes made, it is essentially a faithful adaptation and fans will not be disappointed.

While cherished as a wondrous fairy tale with mythic motifs on one level, a deeper perspective reveals beautiful Christian allegories. The Christ figure is found in Aslan (lion in Turkish; the Lion of Judah in Rev 5:5 is Jesus!), who willingly lays down his life amidst the mocking and jeering of his foes, yet resurrects and breathes a new spirit of life back to creatures cast to stone by the Witch, and who eventually destroys her to save all in Narnia. The paschal mystery expressed metaphorically will be obvious for anyone familiar with the fundamentals of the Christian faith and not only is Christmas experienced in Narnia but Lent, Easter and Pentecost as well.

Edmund, one of the children who betrays his siblings and succumbs to the Witch (being tempted by his weakness – Turkish Delight), and on whose account Aslan sacrifices his life, can be viewed to represent fallen humanity. What is beautiful to see in the film is Edmund’s transformation after being redeemed. Although we do not hear him say “I’m sorry” as we do read in the book, his repentant face and disposition speak louder than words, and the forgiveness of his siblings is also illustrated in emotive actions before our eyes. Reconciled and united as a family, the children display fraternal love triumphing over past disagreements and conflicts.

In Lucy, the youngest child, we could draw a parallel to the words of Jesus in Matt 18:3, that we must change and become like children to enter the Kingdom of heaven. In her innocence, purity, and great sense of wonder, Lucy is the first to enter the magical world of Narnia. Deeply hurt by Edmund’s duplicity, she nevertheless spontaneously hugs him in the reconciling scene mentioned above. Through Lucy, we learn how to be child-like again.

Other biblical parallels include the stone table which breaks into two, akin to the torn veil in Matt 27:51, and Aslan’s first appearance to the girls after his ‘resurrection,’ resembling the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ resurrection appearance to women. Audiences may also appreciate the screenplay’s references to biblical lines not found in the book: “Behold the great lion,” (cf John 19:5) exclaimed by the Witch at the sacrificial scene, and “It is finished,” (cf John 19:30) declared by Aslan, after his triumph over the evil Wtich.

Some Christians may object to having Father Christmas in the story. Yet his presence heralds the arrival of Aslan since Narnia does not experience Christmas until Aslan arrives. As we listen to the jingling bells of Santa’s sleigh, bells may also be ringing in our heads to remind us that Jesus too had a precursor, John the Baptist. Father Christmas in Narnia emphasizes his gifts to the children as being tools, in contrast to the real Gift of Aslan – his life. A point of reflection that makes this movie a wonderful Christmas film is to realise that indeed all we receive this Christmas are mere tools (to build the Kingdom of God) compared to the true Gift of Jesus himself.

As winter melts in Narnia with the arrival of Aslan, and the beauty of spring budding forth ravish audiences’ eyes, the verse from Song of Songs 2:11 could come to mind, “the winter is past….the flowers appear… ‘tis the season of songs.” – a splendid allegory of Christmas joy and hope brought forth with the arrival of Jesus into the world and in our hearts.

Finally, the White Witch clearly symbolises the devil. She and her brood of vipers are defeated in the final battle scene. Pacifists may object to the rather long battle sequence in the film which took only two pages in the book. However being a Disney film, there are no gory scenes and all killing is implied rather than graphically depicted. Ultimately, the battle could serve as a metaphor for the ongoing battle within each of us, to overcome evil and the temptations of the devil (of selfishness, greed, etc) with love, sacrifice and courage. “Impossible!” some may say, just as Susan utters when she first stumbles into Narnia and repeated by the Witch when she sees the “resurrected” Aslan. But, “with God, all things are possible.” (Lk 1:37). As in Narnia with the power of Aslan, we too with the grace of God, can win the battle where good will always triumph over evil.

While adults may be able to appreciate enriching faith parallels from the film, it is not necessary to impart to young children the spiritual aspects of the story yet. It may be wiser to just let them enjoy and experience the story for themselves first, and discover the richness of the allegories later, as their faith matures.

A tip - Stay in your seats after the credits roll for an extra scene to discover why Professor Kirke never doubted Lucy.
(published in the CatholicNews Dec 2005)

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