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Further In

I know this is another Narnia post, but it’s what’s on my heart. I always write so much better when it’s from my heart.

I went to see the movie again tonight for the second time, and I’m sooo glad. I even went so far as to download the soundtrack (legally) just now so I could be listening to it.

There’s been a lot of talk about this movie, and I wanted to throw in my tuppence.

First of all: Go see it.

I am being completely serious. Go. Today. Tonight. Tomorrow. As soon as you can. This is a beautiful movie, and it deserves every bit of praise it can be given. I cried through most of the movie the first time I went to see it, it was so beautiful. They really did a fantastic job with it.

I could break it down for you: the acting (the children were just perfect), the scenery (New Zealand is always breathtaking, and the Czech Rep. was great for a 100 year winter set), the effects (finally some realistic animals and mythological creatures!) but what I really want to do is first offer a few thoughts.

  1. If you are a Christian, go see this movie. If you have seen it, take someone else.
  2. If you are a Christian who is familiar with the book, STOP BASHING THIS MOVIE!!! Whatever its flaws (and I don't deny there are a few) the essence of the story IS intact. Instead of being negative, realize the potential of the story and use it to show others a picture of Christ’s love in a disarming, touching way.
  3. Do not compare LWW with LOTR. Or, if you must, start by realizing that the movies have to be different because the books they were adapted from are VERY different from each other. Simply because Tolkien and Lewis were friends, colleagues, & writing fantasy around the same time, it does not mean they wrote in the same style. At all. The two works are very different, so please keep this in mind when comparing movies.

Now, having said that, I just want to touch on the things I took issue with, and end on the things I loved (I like to save the best for last).

There was no moment of the movie I hated; but there were a few changes—mainly additions—that I wondered about. Nothing was major enough to disrupt the meaning of the story. But can someone please tell me why they felt the need to change the wolf’s name from Fenris Ulf to Maugrim?? I don’t understand.* I didn’t see the need for the waterfall/ice chunk scene, but I guess they wanted to add drama. The beavers could have been better, imo. Why didn’t they go into Aslan being a Lion and not safe but good before the kids met him? And I really wish that they had better conveyed the closeness Aslan and the children had before his death. Obviously, they must have been attached for them to grieve him so quickly, but it could have been shown better.

Now for the things I liked. The music is really good—not quite as rich as Howard Shore’s composition for LOTR, which is probably my favorite movie soundtrack (combined) of all time—but I am listening to it right now, and I am really loving it.

The acting was really excellent, and though everybody is raving about Georgie Henley, who plays Lucy (and she is quite brilliant in the role), it was Skandar Keynes (Edmund) who really stole my heart. He was just perfect, and really a sympathetic character. I just loved him. Edmund has recently become a close second favorite (human) character of all, and I think this gave him an extra edge. Sorry, I just really wanted to gush about him a moment, he really is one of my favorite parts of the movie. I have always admired how Lewis was able to make you start out disliking a character and then change the person enough so that you can actually like him in the end, barely remembering what a prat he used to be because he’s so changed.

I love the coronation scene; it still made me tear up. And I like how Lucy notices Aslan’s sorrow when everyone else is rejoicing, and that she is sad when she sees Aslan leaving; that was fitting and the closest they came to conveying that bond. Mr. Tumnus was really great, a really funny and likable character as he ought to be. I love seeing the grown-up versions of the children, even though my brother complained that they made Lucy prettier than Susan, and she really was supposed to be prettier. It didn’t bother me, because I like Lucy much better anyway. And one of my favorite things is the “real” ending of the movie: don’t jump up when the credits start, or you will miss it. Wait just a minute, and the very last scene is just a nice, fitting end to the beginning of more adventures to come.

Okay, so seriously, stop reading now and go to the movies. You saw it? Great! I’m so glad. Now go see it again. Yes, I’m serious. Okay, so you can leave me a comment first. Then go.

*Edit: I found out that Maugrim was the original, British-version name of the wolf. So that makes sense now.


Narnia Mania

I want to tell you a story.

When I was about three years old, my father started reading “The Chronicles of Narnia” to me. I am not kidding. He adapted it to my level, of course, so that my young mind could grasp the unfolding drama. The best part was that he used voices. He even used British accents. It was great. To this day I can still hear echoes when I re-read them.

I don’t remember the very first time I heard it, but I do remember becoming absolutely captivated at a very young age. At five, I was already imitating Lucy, my favorite character (besides Aslan)—I dressed up as her for (my last) Halloween that year. There was something about the stories that absolutely enchanted me.

Ever since then, I’ve been looking for a way into Narnia.

Seriously, I could write pages and pages on how much C. S. Lewis’ stories influenced me. Actually, I did write pages—in college I wrote a paper on it.

His depiction of Jesus as a Lion—wow. Brilliance. More than that, it was inspired. Aslan is both ferocious and tender, depending on the situation. He knows when to whisper and when to roar, when to use his claws and when to velvet them. There was something about this duality, this supreme wisdom that sunk deep into my psyche. Aslan’s supreme justice and supreme mercy combined to create a God that is seldom preached from our pulpits.

I was also deeply impressed by the intimate friendship Lucy and Aslan had. Lewis would often write that Lucy “understood his moods” or correctly interpreted his growls. She seemed somehow to be most in tune with him, and when she is told she is too old to come back to Narnia, she sobs that it’s Him she’ll miss, not the country. At that point in my young life I had a very similar connection to God—innocent, full of trust and love and the assurance that He cared about me.

I tell ya, Life can really take that out of you. It’s amazing to me how much that belief has been assaulted in the past decade or so of my life. That complete trust we have when we are children is attacked as we get older; it is shaken, just like our faith in everything else around us eventually is.

But no matter how old I get, I am taken back to that sense of wonder when I re-read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” In the past couple of years, I have had the privilege of reading it to children. I read it to a group of (older) students at a preschool a couple of years ago, and just a few months ago to my Chinese Church kids. Yes, I use voices and fake accents. I love seeing the kids get into the story…and I love getting myself back into it. I especially want them to know the “real” story before the movie comes out in December.

I know it will be really good, very well done, probably spectacular from all that I’ve seen of it already…but nothing will ever live up to the images I have in my head. They will change things, because that’s what movie people do to books. I could write a whole other post of my disgust on that topic. And because it’s something that means so much to me, I am trying to prepare myself now for the inevitable disappointments. (Hey, I had them with LOTR, too, and those are like my favorite movies of all time.) And I am trying to overlook the hype which now surrounds the movie and stay positive, knowing that no matter what happens with the movie, there will always be the original story.

The point is, I probably am who I am today in a large part because twenty-three years ago my dad read me a thirty year old book written by deceased English author. I would not be J. M. Richards, I would not have written “Found Phoebe,” if it weren’t for my dad, and Clive Staples Lewis. That sounds like a big thing to say. But I really believe it. The love of Narnia opened up for me a whole desire for more adventures into other lands—and for adventure in general, the longing to be part of something bigger. And the symbolism, which I was able to grasp even as a child, showed me that other stories might also carry a deeper meaning.

This is something which has come to fruition in me only in recent years; but I recognize when and where the seeds were planted (and subsequently watered in large part by John Eldredge). I look back in amazement that something so beautifully simple had such a profound effect on me.

Well, I told you I could write pages on this. I could mention the beautiful Chris Rice song, “Run the Earth and Watch the Sky” [thanks to Brianne for introducing me to that song] where he mentions Aslan and the Pevensies as part of his adolescence. I could go off on a tangent and talk about when I went to Chicago, to Wheaton, and saw (touched!!!) C.S. Lewis’ desk at a special library dedicated to him and six other British authors (including Tolkien and George MacDonald). But really this post is just a tribute; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and How it Changed My Entire Life, by J. M. Richards. Or something like that. If I sound fanatical, even evangelistic about it…well, I don’t apologize. I can only hope that someday you, too, will experience the wonder, and find your own adventurous encounter with the untamed God. Y