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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

On The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie, take 2

Well, the whole fam-da- uh, extended family went to see the “Narnia” movie together yesterday, which means I got to see it again. Noticed a few details I missed the first time (even though I had to step out to take my daughter to the bathroom!) A few thoughts:

1) I got into the cinematic version itself a little more this time; last time I was too busy having my “preconceived notions” confronted.

2) There are, in fact, a few weak moments in the Pevensies’ portrayal of emotion. But then, there’s an awful lot of heavy stuff going on, and perhaps some of the rather half-committed (or less than powerfully acted) expressions are actually more realistic than more profound expressions would be. In real life, there are often long moments of processing, or shock, or what-have-you before a full reaction to something profound takes place. But then also, they’re kids!

3) Some have criticized Aslan as not being fierce enough, but I really had no problem with the way he was portrayed. I thought he was beautiful.

4) I am still bothered by departures from the book. I’ve been driving myself nuts trying to get both the cinematic- and book-versions straight; it leads to too much confusion! (ah, the limits of my feeble brain…) I even re-read the book a few days ago. *sigh* Too many details to remember.

5) In the movie, the Professor seemed to act as if he’d been to Narnia himself (though he didn’t so much as say so), and even tried to get in near the end of the movie. Yet my impression of him from the book is that he was less concerned with Narnia itself than with the childrens’ treatment of each other, their faculties of logic, and their belief or lack thereof in “other worlds.” (other dimensions to life than the "obvious")

6) Both the Professor and Tumnus are given larger roles in the movie than they have in the book. Not sure what to think about that.

7) I am less bothered by the White Witch than I was at first viewing; guess I got used to her. Though she was portrayed differently than I would’ve imagined, I noticed a lot more nuance this time and could appreciate her, uh, coldness, and vacuity. There are still aspects of her that seemed too human. Another thought I had as she was entering Aslan’s pavilion was that she looked like some sort of odd bride. Ugh! Too weird.

8) I wish that the scene from the book in which Edmund is almost killed by the Witch had been put in the movie. The whole traitor/blood requirement/sacrifice idea was made quite clear, but that particular scene was turned into a vignette on the exploitative falseness (is there a word for that?) of the Witch’s favor (in her treatment of the Dwarf as she unbound him).

9) The special effects, while spectacular, are perhaps slightly overdone. But many of them are very effective.

10) The soundtrack is good.

11) This is a great movie. Very well-done. I’d like to think that Lewis would’ve been OK with it, but honestly have no conviction that he would’ve because of subtleties of difference from the book. Some of these are Americanizations of his British-isms and Lewis-isms, which are probably justifiable, but others are subtle reinterpretations of the characters and events.


  • You are aware, of course, that the Professor had been to Narnia. However, I don't think Lewis was aware of that when he wrote TLTW&TW.

    Good post.

    By Blogger Martin LaBar, at 11:14 AM  

  • Well, that's the thing. In the book, the Professor didn't really come out & let on (at least it seemed to me) that he'd been there. Perhaps he had already in Lewis' mind but it's hard to tell whether he was subtly letting on that he knew about Narnia or was humoring/encouraging the children in a secretive way (which is the way that makes more sense to me to read it :-) ). I don't know that he would've tried to get in to Narnia via the wardrobe himself (as in the movie) if he'd taken his own advice from the book to not try to get in via a known way.

    But now that I've thought about it a little more and realized a few other references in the movie to other books in the series, I'm thinking that some of these were made to foreshadow and tie into future (cinematic) installments.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 10:56 PM  

  • Some of these are Americanizations of his British-isms and Lewis-isms, which are probably justifiable,

    Just as an aside, the director Andrew Adamson is a Kiwi and the screenplay writer is of South African British descent. That doesn't discount your opinion that the changes are Americanizations, but it might be less American influence than you think.

    I enjoyed reading your review, Bonnie, as I wandered my way here from Martin's blog. I have to say that my second viewing was much more enjoyable than my first, since I was hampered most of the way through the first viewing by the fear that they would drastically mess it up somehow. When I knew they hadn't, then I felt freer to enjoy it the second time.

    They expanded the Fox's role too, did you notice? But I've heard that's because Rupert Everett approached Adamson and begged for a part, any part, in the movie. So they expanded the Fox's role and cast him.

    By Blogger Arevanye, at 7:14 PM  

  • Thanks, Arevanye, thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, I suppose I should've said "modernizations" rather than specifying national differences.

    By Blogger Bonnie, at 8:15 PM  

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