20 December 2005
We’ve been very very good parents, so our children let us go out a date last week, and we saw the Narnia movie.
Jen has already posted her own review. My disorganized comments:
- What strikes me the most about this movie is the emphasis placed on how Peter belittled Edmund, and the clear implication that Peter is partly responsible for Edmund’s decision to
go over to the Dark Side use the Ring of Power cooperate with the White Witch. In the book, by contrast, the narrator describes Edmund as “spiteful” without reference to any psychological cause; sibling rivalry is mentioned later in the book, but it seems to play a much less significant role. (To be fair, Edmund is not exactly an autonomous moral agent in the book, either, seeing as how the Witch spiked his Turkish Delight with crystal meth.) If this is how the screenwriters reinterpret Edmund Pevensie, I shudder to imagine what they’ll do with Eustace Clarence Scrubb.
- In the Witch’s first encounter with Edmund, Tilda Swinton did an excellent job portraying someone who is used to ruling through fear, but just once needs to get her way through charm. The rest of the acting is… well… good enough for the characters being portrayed, who have about as much depth as wading pools.
- Not that I have a vested interest, but I have trouble seeing Narnia as a vehicle to convert the under-18 masses to Christianity. If I understand correctly, a Christian evangelist is supposed to convince you that because Jesus died for your sins, you should change your attitudes and behavior (the details of the desired change depend on which Christian denomination you’re talking to). But in this movie, there’s no “because”. Since the children are aliens to this “Old Magic” that prescribed Edmund’s blood-guilt in the first place, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact as the corresponding lectures from Paul of Tarsus. There’s no analog of the Sermon on the Mount or any other scene in which Aslan is telling his followers how they should be acting. Peter, Susan, and Lucy, who revered Aslan as soon as they heard his name, don’t seem to have a different emotional relationship with him after his resurrection. You certainly don’t see anyone suggesting that just as Aslan saved Edmund from the punishment rightfully due to him, a good Narnian should offer the Witch’s underlings parole rather than death.
P.S.: Speaking of the Narnia series, Andrew Rilstone has an interesting essay defending Lewis’s much-commented-on portrayal of Susan in The Last Battle.