Monday, December 26, 2005


Just back from business travels in India and Jordan (which concluded nearly 16 weeks of more or less unceasing travel), the family whisked me off for a couple of days skiing in the Swiss Alps, after which we came back to the beautiful Christmas Eve service at the International Protestant Church in Zurich (standing room only!) with its Zurich Opera singers and Conductor, who outdid themselves this year.

Then on to the next hightlight, director Andrew Adamson's cinematic retelling of C S Lewis's classic THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. I should say that I know the story only from dim memories of overhearing my wife reading it at bedtime to the kids a couple of decades ago. However, I do remember seeing the BBC film of the story, so the inevitable comparison in my mind was with that.

First, I must say that Adamson's version is thoroughly enjoyable, and I warmly recommend it.

Then, I probably ought to say that as the BBC version was more "British", it was probably more in keeping with the spirit of the original story (all the villains in the Adamson version story have American accents!). And the BBC version's Ice Queen (or Witch) was more striking (more deliberately beautiful, so more likely to gain at least initially to attract one character's as well as the audience). Apart from that, the two versions are comparably good, with a greater use of special effects in this version.

For those who don't know the story, here is my summary of it (no doubt a melange of memories from long ago, the BBC version and this version!):

The four young Pevensie children are evacuated (as so many other children were) to a country estate while London suffers under the German Blitz during World War II. There, the bored kids—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—discover a mysterious wardrobe that leads them all to a land called Narnia, which has familiar elements from our world as well as fantastical creatures from Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology. An Evil Witch (the Ice Queen) has usurped Narnia from its rightful owner, Aslan the Lion, and keeps Narnia in a perpetual state of winter (with no hope of Christmas, let alone Spring). It turns out that the arrival of the two Sons of Adam and the two Daughters of Eve in Narnia has a unique role to play in fulfilling an ancient prophecy so that the witch's spell will be broken and her reign ended. One of them (Edmund) betrays the rest to the Ice Queen, with the result that, when he is rescued, she demands his life. Aslan offers his own life instead, and is killed by the triumphant Ice Queen, leaving a transformed Peter and company to lead Aslan's troops in a valiant but losing battle against the hordes led by the Queen. However, Aslan is miraculously restored to life and intervenes in the battle, so that the Foursome are, at the end, elevated to four royal thrones, before Aslan leaves.

Adamson's film, and especially Georgie Henley as Lucy, convey wonderfully Lewis's childlike entrancement in the story and though I have various minor cavils, there is excellent use of motion picture technology, particularly in the visualization of C.S. Lewis' beloved creatures.

However, the highlight of the film, for me, is James McAvoy's acting as the faun Tumnus, with human torso and lower body of a goat - believably awkward but comfortable.

One word of warning. When you go to see the film, don't walk out when the credits begin to roll: the final scenes of the film are still to come before the final roll of credits continues.

I am not sure why Adamson took to this gimmick. It detracts from the film: the cinema that I was in opened the doors at this point and several people got up to leave (this probably happens in other cinemas too!), depriving the final scenes of the film of some of their poignance.

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

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