Friday, December 09, 2005

Chronicles...

Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter all have something in common. Boy with humble beginnings saves the world. All three of these epic franchises have been wildly successful at the box-office and in literary form (the two latter, LOTR and HP, before the films were released). While Narnia has the potential to be another great screen epic we'll see if the film matches the expectations of ¹millions of fans who've digested the classic young persons series since their publishing from 1950 - 1956.

Over the last few months I've heard some people complain about C.S. Lewis's use of ²religious allegory within the Chronicles of Narnia. To what end? I challenge most younger children (the books are for children) to point out which scenes possess the allegorical rhetoric.
Honestly most children don't care.
Is it a good story? Yes.
Is it fun to read? Yes.
Adventure-filled? Yes!!
What more is there?

Alternately, I've read Christian groups all throughout the US, and in the UK, are buying groups of tickets for their parishioners and having Narnia related events.
They've embraced the Chronicles as a draw for their younger and more impressionable members in hopes that they will increase their ever dwindling flock.

I really see nothing wrong in that, a priest in my church gave a sermon once that included Star Wars...talk about surprised!
Some religions (beyond Christianity) claim an affinity to the basic principles George Lucas placed in his sagas and there's not much difference in what C.S. Lewis proposed through Narnia. Though Lewis's account is closer to the surface where you can pick out more obvious Christian details, Lucas pulled more from Eastern philosophies but in a more general manner.
So what if people find the common Universal thread (insert obligatory Joseph Campbell influences here) close to what they believe.

As a child I was exposed to many different stories from all over the world and it was of no consequence that my mother was a Christian. She knew a good story! The stories had that common theme, a lesson to be learned wrapped in a colorful tale. Again, no matter... East, West, North, South and all points in-between, they are still classic good-over-evil and boy, or in this case children,-with-humble-beginnings-save-the-world tales.

Because of Star Wars' popularity, and financial success, tales like these can be told on the big screen without being laughable, at least visually. What C.S. Lewis feared most was live-action versions of his series, based on his knowledge of film and effects to that date.
Lewis once said (as quoted in a letter written in 1959), "Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography," he also added, "a human, pantomime Aslan would to me be blasphemy". Had Lewis lived beyond ³1963 and beyond Star Wars he may have eagerly embraced film versions of his Chronicles.

With seven books in the series (The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader"; The Horse and his Boy; The Magician's Nephew; The Last Battle) and big budgets to expend, there is much to look forward to and no worries about the actors becoming too old to play the parts since the characters change from book to book. A luxury Harry Potter is quickly losing.I no longer have my 1970 version of the classics, which I think I loved to death, I do have the 1974 printing which is in good condition...although it does appear that I used the box for the set to house crayons at one time. I enjoyed reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe just as much now as I did at 5 years old and I hope to enjoy the release of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe...and any subsequent releases.

I don't know about the writing but I made my point anyway.

LM

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¹The Narnia novels sold more than 100 million copies worldwide while Tolkien's series sold around 30 million
² Shortly before he wrote the Narnia books he'd been converted to Christianity by a close friend and author during an all-night religious discussion. By dawn he'd seen the light literally and figuratively.
³ C.S. Lewis died the day Kennedy was assassinated

~~Note (of course):
The following Star Wars alum in the cast and crew: Liam Neeson (voice of Aslan ; Qui Gon Jinn in TPM), Kiran Shaw (Ginarrbrik - Ewok and stunt double in ROTJ), Steve Sauers (creature technical director: ILM ; digital simulation artist AOTC), Christopher Townsend (digital effects artist: ILM ; effects on SW: ANH and the PT)

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