Saturday, December 17, 2005

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

Add Narnia to my travel maps

Today Sheila and I visited Narnia via the new Disney movie of C.S. Lewis's wonderful little book, The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe.

It was a fantastic movie in more than genre.

The cinematography was dazzling. Gorgeous photography, creative angles, great visual storytelling, fantastic special effects, nice use of variable focus.

The animation and special effects never overwhelm the story. Yes there are enough glimpses of Mr. Tumnus's legs for us to notice they really are the legs of a goat: they really move like the hind legs of an animal, but we glimpse as the story moves on and we don't dwell on the absurdity. The beavers, wolves, fox, etc. in the context of Narnia are believable individuals.

The air battle of World War Two in the opening scene is a neat foreshadowing of the climactic battle scene in Narnia. The dramatic dash to rescue his father's photo during a London Blitz lets us know that Edmund has a spark of humanity despite his despicable behavior later. Maybe he is redeemable.

The allegory (Aslan/Christ) is obvious but not heavy-handed.

The changes and additions seem appropriate in translating the story for the screen. The opening scenes explain the setting of wartime England to a new generation. The chase from the Beavers' home, and the continuing race to the stone table, are closer, more dramatic for the screen. The end of the battle is effective, though I'm not as sure about the reasons for the changes there.

The acting is outstanding. The Witch and Tumnus are especially convincing, and so are the four children. The casting of Peter, Susan, Lucy, and Edmund is perfect and the director gets flawless, sensitive, multifaceted performances from them.

This guy is a great director. Maybe I need to see the Shreck movies again. Were they this good?

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