Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
The great news is that the Disney movie version of “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe” is not only very entertaining, but retains the deeper truth and essence of C.S. Lewis’ great novel, the first in his great seven-part Chronicles of Narnia redemptive fantasy series. Just 11 hours after the final edits, the Director’s Guild audience thrilled to the exciting motion picture, adapted beautifully from the novel that almost 100 million people have read and loved. Neither the fans of the book, nor the fans of the story behind the story, will be disappointed.
The movie works well and is a great tool for the church to help people understand the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Very, very few people will see the slight divergences that the movie takes from the novel. Even fewer will see the very slight shifts in the perspective of the movie.
That said, it should be noted that a large portion of the readers have missed the book’s clear Christological allusions, although C.S. Lewis said in his March 1961 letter to the young girl Anne that “The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe” was his way of retelling the true story of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The movie itself starts slightly before the book with an air raid in London that puts the four Pevensie children – Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan – in jeopardy. The children are sent out of the city to stay with Professor Kirke in the countryside for protection.
During a game of “Hide and Seek,” Lucy stumbles on an old wardrobe. The wardrobe leads her to Narnia, a world with talking animals and mythical creatures. The evil White Witch has taken control of the land, turning it into a state of forever winter, but never Christmas. A prophecy says that four sons and daughters of Adam and Eve will be brought to Narnia to help Aslan, the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea, free Narnia from the White Witch.
To thwart the prophecy, the White Witch has told her subjects that, if they see a son or daughter of Adam and Eve, they should bring them to her. Edmund becomes a pawn of the White Witch. His sisters and brother must rush to find Aslan to try to set Edmund free. Aslan makes a bargain with the White Witch that he will die for Edmund’s treachery. Thus, the battle begins to deliver Narnia from the clutches of the White Witch, and the resurrection of Aslan breaks the Witch’s control over Narnia.
“The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe” is tremendously exciting. There is a compelling sense of Providence leading the children into Narnia. There is also a prophetic element.
The production quality is much greater than the sum of its parts. The camerawork is great. The computer generated images are terrific and enchanting. The four children are very good, especially Lucy. Everyone involved deserves high praise.
Though they have deleted some scenes from the book and added others, the story has retained its theological foundation, although some of the theology has been toned down. However, these changes are subtle, with a little more emphasis on the Creation rather than the Creator.
That said, the movie is a very clear Christological allusion, or imagining, of the story of Jesus Christ. The minor changes do not take away from that meaning in the book, which lifts up the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as our deliverer from the eternal winter of sin and rebellion. After months of anticipation, those who love Narnia can rejoice that Disney and Walden have given them a wonderful movie that tells the story in an entertaining, exciting, thrilling and respectful way.
Andrew Adamson said that when he directed the movie, he started from his memory. He felt that the book was too thin, so the movie reflects his memory of the book, not the actual book. He understands the element of sacrifice and redemption, but his concern was for the empowering of the children. Clearly, his perspective helped produce the subtle shift from the book, but his love for the original source ultimately keeps the movie on target.