The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tek's rating: ½

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (PG)
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Caution: spoilers.

See also the 1988 serial The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Well, of course I read the books when I was a kid, and even then the Christian allegory was obvious to me. Though apparently that's something that's supposed to be sort of arbitrary. Read it into the story if you want, and if not, don't. I can't imagine how one could avoid it, but... even so, I don't really think it's terribly important. If it makes Christians more interested in reading the books or seeing the movie, great. If it makes fantasy fans want to avoid the books or the movie, their bloody loss, I say. There's no way not to see the allegory, and no reason not to just plain ignore it, if you want. Either way, it's a good, entertaining fantasy story. The books are great fun, and so is the movie, and I look forward to the sequels. There were some decent TV adaptations of the first four (of seven) books, years ago, and it's a shame they never completed the series. With any luck, this new movie will launch a franchise that does manage to complete the series. Meanwhile, I should talk about the movie itself. As an aside, this is based on the first book in the series, though for a number of years the books were published in a different order, chronologically... by events in Narnia rather than by when the books were written. That always bothered me, though more recently they've reverted to the proper sequence, and it's good that the movie follows that order, as well. And now, let the spoilers begin.

The movie tells the story of four children who are sent, after an air raid on London in WWII, to live in the countryside, to escape the war. Peter Pevensie (the eldest) and his sisters Susan and Lucy, and their brother Edmund, are all now staying at the estate of a Professor Kirke. One day during a game of hide and seek, Lucy hides in a wardrobe, and surprisingly, wanders out the back of it into a magical, wintery world called Narnia. There she meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), who tells her that the evil White Witch, has kept it always Winter in Narnia, for the past 100 years, and never Christmas. And also, any sons of Adam or daughters of Eve (humans) are to be delivered to her immediately. Tumnus was going to do this, but decided instead to send Lucy back home, and hope the White Witch never learned that the girl had ever been in Narnia.

At first her brothers and sister don't believe her when she tells them what's happened, especially when they check the wardrobe, which now has a regular back to it, and no entrance into another world. But later she returns to Narnia, alone, and Edmund follows... but when he can't find her, he meets instead the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), who calls herself the Queen of Narnia. She flatters him and feeds him turkish delight, and tells him to bring his siblings to her... none of them had ever treated him very well, and he liked the "queen," as well as her suggestion that he could be a king, and his siblings his servants. But when he and Lucy returned home, he denied having been to Narnia.

Later all four of them are hiding in the wardrobe after having broken a window in a game of cricket, and they all stumble into Narnia. They find that Tumnus has been arrested, but they soon meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who tell them some history of Narnia, including a prophecy that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve would become kings and queens of Narnia, thus ending the eternal winter. Also, the true king of Narnia, Aslan, has returned, so they must go find him and join his growing army to help fight the White Witch. However, Edmund runs away to tell the queen of these things... And I gotta say, I've had turkish delight, and I'm not overly fond of it. I certainly can't imagine betraying my family to get some. Now maybe a nice tira misu, or something... but I digress.

Edmund's siblings want to get their brother back from the White Witch, who they know has no intention of doing anything nice for him. She wants to kill all four of them to prevent the prophecy coming true, and ending her own reign. Lucy, of course, also wants to rescue Tumnus. Meanwhile, the three of them, along with the beavers, are on the run from the wolves who serve as the Witch's police. Yes, pretty much all the animals in Narnia are intelligent, and talk, and everything. And there are all manners of mythical creatures, as well, and magic. Well, eventually the children and beavers will make it to the camp of Aslan, the Great Lion, though not before meeting Father Christmas, who gives the children special gifts which will come in quite handy, later. Oh, and then Summer finally returns.

A small group from Aslan's army rescue Edmund and bring him back. Later the Witch shows up demanding his life, based on the Deep Magic (ancient laws which govern everything, which even Aslan can't deny). After a secret talk between the two, she agrees to renounce her claim on Edmund; however there is of course a terrible price which Aslan has agreed to, though he tells no one. As he secretly leaves camp that night, however, Lucy and Susan follow him. And I'll say no more of what happens, save that the three of them will be absent during the great battle between the two armies the next day.

And at this point, I feel like ceasing to reveal any more details of the plot. I will just say that I think the movie is tremendously faithful to the book, though it seemed to add a great deal of detail, because it's such a short book. But I don't remember it that well, having read it so many years ago. I should reread them all, someday. In any event, a good story, good acting, good music, good effects. I mean it's all fairly simple in a way, but still I thought it was pretty cool, and beautiful to look at. that's about all I can think to say, for now....

fantasy index

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe * Prince Caspian * The Voyage of the Dawn Treader