So, as I’ve already mentioned, our family has listened to all but one of Focus On The Family Radio Theaters renditions of The Chronicles of Narnia (which, if you’re looking for a good maker of audio dramas, then they’re what your looking for.) Dad apparently wanted us to first hear the book and than hear the audio before we could see the movie, but we finally got around to seeing that right after we got back from our trip.
I’ll be reviewing the overall story–including all three sources of book, audio and film.
I do want to say for starters to my readers, that I did not grow up knowing anything about The Chronicles of Narnia. My sister and I have shocked many friends when we’ve confessed that we had no clue to the series whatsoever, and the reason is because our family has a great disdain for magic. Our parents didn’t want us growing up with magic and so most stories containing it were not allowed into our household (this is why I didn’t grow up with the magical Disney stories either). Our parents, now, have decided we are old enough to handle the stories with magic with better knowledge about them… so that, I suppose, is the reason they suddenly decided to dig the stories.
(I would much rather go in the Lord of the Rings direction personally… maybe we can go there after this Narnia business is all done with in a couple of months. ;D I need to put those books on hold at the library.)
The book, which we first read…. it is not on my list of ‘amazing pieces of literature’ and it’s also not on the re-read list either. For some reason, CS Lewis writing style annoyed me, so it’s a little hard to enjoy the book if you can’t enjoy the way it was written. I don’t really know why it annoyed me; it just did. The story was alright but through most of it, I kept thinking, “How the heck did this become a classic?”
Maybe I misunderstood the story or something. I don’t know. (I will say that the story had way more meaning when we finally heard the audio book, The Magician’s Nephew. Details like how the wardrobe was magical and how Narnia was made, gave the story more realism.) Non the less, my first impressions from the original tale it’s self was mild distaste and un-interest. I was, though, fairly confident that the radio drama and film would be much better.
The audio version of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe was very good; almost exactly like the book (in fact at one point, I was like, “I don’t even need to listen to this; it’s nearly word for word!”) It was much more enjoyable as an audio book though, as the sound effects, different voices and music made it much easier to see the story in my head. My favorite voice from the whole thing was Edmund’s and I was sad when I remembered he wouldn’t have that voice in the film.
After we’d heard both book and drama, I came to the conclusion that Peter was my favorite of the different characters. But I’ll get to him later.
The film = masterpiece. Not just because of it’s effects, music and acting. I’ve never seen a movie stick so close to it’s original book source as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe did. Outside of a few slight changes (which h0nestly improved the story), it was very near exact to the book and audio. Only… better.
The dialogue was better. We got a better look at the children’s back story in the film (see beginning). Edmund and Peter’s character exchanges gave the redeemed part at the end more depth. Some of other characters where given more depth, like Mr Tumnus, whom I connected with much better in the film. Probably the only thing I didn’t like very much was the change they gave to Susan. I’ll talk about that later. But outside of that, I can’t complain about the changes.
A quick sketch for several of the main characters, starting with Lucy.
Lucy is probably the most overrated character of the entire series. Everybody loves Lucy, because she embodies the spirit of faith, and she always believed in Aslan, and she brought everyone to Narnia *insert sarcastic blah, blah, blahs here*. To me, she was an okay character. Not very dimensional though.
Edmund; the annoying, rebellious one who is thankfully redeemed by the end. He had all the best lines. Deal with it (along with Mr Beaver, of course.) I liked his character quite a bit, actually. His journey of rebellion to repentance and redemption was well built as his attitude gradually changed instead of one minute being a brat and the next minute being an angel. So, I like Edmund quite a bit.
As I said above, I was rather split about Susan before we watched Prince Caspian (I will talk about my thoughts of her when I review that film seperatly). In the audio and book, Susan was a protective older sister and tended to want to stay back in obvious safety instead of blunder off into a new world. In the film, Susan was much more of a annoying blamer and was constantly tearing Peter down. I wish she hadn’t been so sharp in the film. As an overall character, she’s okay (I learned to like her a lot more in Prince Caspian.)
Peter. Easily my favorite by far. He’s certainly the most mature of the siblings and I loved seeing his instictive protectiveness of his sisters. He was always watching out for Lucy especially because she’s the smallest and weakest of them all. I did think it was a bit far-fetching for him to suddenly in charge of an entire army (seriously, Aslan) and actually know what he was doing. But, that’s a minor complaint. Overall, he’s my favorite.
The White Witch, the villain. She was a consistent character from book to film. Cold, powerful, selfish, and uncaring about everything except herself. She had really pretty and interesting clothes though.
Mr Tumnus, the one character who gradually grew on me. Throughout the film it’s self, I wasn’t sure if I liked him that much or not. But by the end I decided I did like him very much. He was a quickly repentant, innocent pawn of the witch. I like his friendly relationship with Lucy and how he risked his life to save her. He’s probably in my top five favorite Narnia characters.
Can’t finish without talking about Aslan. He’s, like, the big guy of the series. You can’t help but like him. He’s like the ultimate good. Right?
Well, I do like Aslan, but I’m afraid he brings me to speak about one thing about The Chronicles of Narnia that I do not care for.
The magic. And I know this is a touchy subject, but just bare this with me. I’m not forcing my beliefs on anybody, but please respect my own opinion and we can still get along.
Magic is the one source of power in Narnia and both the White Witch–the villain–and Aslan–the hero–use it. According to scripture using magic/practicing witchcraft is very wrong (Deuteronomy 18:10-13 for example). You say, “But Aslan is good and he uses the magic for good!” That’s the problem, here.
Just because Aslan uses magic for good doesn’t make it right, according to God’s laws. CS Lewis, using his knowledge of writing, made using magic look okay and even good, because characters we care about and cheer for use it. But that doesn’t make it right. “But it’s just a story, it’s not real, it’s just fiction.” Many people say this, including when they refer to the stories of Harry Potter. But just because something is fiction still doesn’t make it okay or right. Would you enjoy a story about people who used rape and murder for good things? No, of course not, because that absolutely repels you at the idea. Witchcraft and magic is just as serious a subject as rape and murder, but it’s been used so much in films and books and made to look so good that we as a cultural are desensitized to it. We no longer see danger in it. It’s no longer a big deal. It’s fiction, it’s just a story, it’s okay. After all! Aslan represents Christ! Right?
Yes, he does represent Christ and that’s something else that has ticked me off about The Chronicles of Narnia for a very long time. The Narnia series is really boasted for having great, Biblical analogies. *wild applause*. But why. WHY is magic—something God hates—used to represent God?! Does this not sound right to anyone else? Many of you might think I’m taking this way to seriously, but I do urge you to look at what the Bible says about magic and see what God says about it.
Anyway. I’ve gotten out my whole magic spiel out. There is a lot more I could say that I’m not too keen on, but I’ll stop for now.
Will I read The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe again. No. Not anytime soon, anyway.
Will I listen to the audio book? Oh yes, but it’s on the longer side, so probably when I have a big craft project I need to work on and I need something to listen too.
Will I watch the movie again. Yep, no doubt about that.
Will I watch the rest of Narnia films when they come out. Probably.
Am I now a Narnia fan? Ehhhhhh, not really. While I did enjoy the audio books and the films, I don’t see Narnia becoming a part of my life anytime soon like Star Wars or The Avengers have. I don’t think I’ll be running around screaming, “For Aslan and for Narnia!” I certainly won’t go around pretending to cast spells and turn things to stone. And of course I won’t be searching for Narnia is my closet (heck, all I REALLY want is a genuine Iron Man suit, that’s all I’m asking for! Who cares about visiting Narnia, who’s up for joining me and Nick Fury’s ‘super secret boy band’ of Avengers??!) But I did enjoy the stories and I’m looking forward to seeing the Voyage of the Dawn Treader as soon as possible!
A basic Prince Caspian film review should be coming soon.