Volume 8, Issue 2 University of Houston
'Narnia' brings out the child in everyone
By Jesse Singh
The past year saw many book-to-film adaptations, ranging from Jarhead to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But nearing the end of 2005, and just in time for Christmas, C. S. Lewis' beloved children's tale The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released.
For decades, children have been captivated by not only the books, but also by Narnia itself -- a world to which other children escape, where good triumphs over evil and bonds of love can never be broken.
The movie brings children's imaginations to the screen. Everyone can see the winter-beaten land brought on by Jadis the Witch (Tilda Swinton), and its gradual change to summer country with the appearance of Aslan the Lion (voiced by Liam Neeson). The visual effects are done painstakingly well, from the individual hairs on a wolf moving with the wind, to Aslan's somber facial expressions.
Though the movie has added scenes and changed some dialogue from the book, these extras help the film become what it is -- an entity independent of the book series. Many elements -- the theatricality of the frozen river or the charm of needling banter from a couple of beavers -- help instill an adventurous but childlike mood throughout the Narnia adaptation.
The most noteworthy performance of the movie does not belong to any of the children, but to Tilda Swinton for her role as the Witch. Cold and domineering, cruel yet cowardly, Swinton brings the Witch to life through her unrelenting pursuit of the children. The child actors and actresses leave much to be desired.
One complaint surrounding Narnia deals with the biblical allusions. Many feel Narnia is pervaded by Christian allegories pertaining to the Lion and the Witch. While the Christian symbolism is all readily apparent, one must keep in mind that Narnia was written for children. Children do not generally go to the theater looking to pick out Christ's atonement and his resurrection or hoping for a religious experience. They go to see what they've read and loved from Page 1. They go to see child kings and queens and are interested in the fantasy and wonder Narnia has to offer.
Narnia is an excellent adaptation of a classic book, and a bright spot among some of the weaker children's movies Disney has released lately.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Rated: PG for battle sequences
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