Film Review – The Chronicles of Narnia
THE LION, THE WITCH and THE WARDROBE.
135 minutes. Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. VHS and DVD. Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, Skandor Keynes, Anna Popplewell, and William Moseley. Director: Andrew Adamson. (Based on the story by C.S. Lewis).
PROBABLY AFTER settlers, ships, linen and crystal one of Ulster’s main export industries has been C.S. Lewis. This Belfast-born and bred Oxford/Cambridge literature professor became well-know for his works on the Christian faith, and for his Narnia series for children. Hopefully most readers know the story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which is the second volume of the Chronicles of Narnia. Four English WWII evacuee children, two brothers and two sisters, find a wardrobe which is a gateway to the magical world of Narnia. They find that this land is in a state of eternal winter and ruled over by an evil white witch. In realizing a prophecy the four join forces with the Lion, Aslan, to defeat the witch and restore spring to Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has been brought to the screen before. (Sesame Workshop made a cartoon version in 1979. Then the BBC made a movie for television in 1988.) Disney has definitely topped the Narnia craze with its special effects, namely the computer graphics which bring the talking animals and mythological creatures to life. This film is definitely not all about effects with no acting. Georgie, Anna, Skandor, and William handled the Pevensies rather well. Ballymeana’s Liam Neeson is the voice of Aslan. Most of all Tilda Swinton’s brilliant portrayal of Jadis, the white witch, has set a new standard. In the BBC production Barbara Kellerman had played a temperamental and stereotypical witch, but Tilda’s witch is cold, calculating, very commanding, and more complex. Given her success as Jadis, the rather aristocratic Ms. Swinton has vowed that she will not show her children the Narnia movie so they will not to see their mother as the epitome of evil. Also to be commended is the filming in the lush mountains of New Zealand. (For the topography of Narnia, Lewis was inspired by the Mournes!)
If you are a C.S. Lewis fan, or even if you enjoy a good heroic story, do see the new Chronicles of Narnia.