THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:
Disney Pictures & Walden Media,December 2005
Reviewed by Susan Conatser
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA is based upon the fantasy masterpiece created by C.S. Lewis. The first book in the series, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, was published in 1950. Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media have come together to create the first American big screen version of this incredible tale.
The movie adaptation follows the story of the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Little Lucy (William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley) as they make their way to rural England following an evacuation of London during World War II. Their father is a soldier fighting in the war and they are sent to the country by their mother (Judy McIntosh) who remains in London. The children are billeted at the country manor of an elderly professor, Mr. Kirke (Jim Broadbent). After they are settled into their new home they find there is little for them to do, and soon they are bored and homesick. Little Lucy is the first to discover a magical wardrobe during a game of "hide and seek".
While hiding, Lucy passes through the wardrobe into the Land of Narnia where she meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy). He's a half-goat, half-man creature who has never seen a human. At first, Tumnus plans to kidnap Lucy and turn her over to the White Witch, but he is torn. He decides instead to become her friend and help her go back through the wardrobe. After Lucy returns from her first venture into the land of Narnia, her brothers and sister do not believe her fanciful tale.
However, they soon discover the forgotten wardrobe really is the portal to the enchanted land of Narnia--inhabited by centaurs, dwarves and talking animals (the Beavers' vocals, Ray Winstone & Dawn French; the Fox, Rupert Everett). Narnia is frozen in deep winter due to a curse of Jadis (Tilda Swinton), the White Witch. Aslan the Lion (vocals by Liam Neeson), the rightful ruler of Narnia, has been in exile waiting for an ancient prophecy to be fulfilled. Now that the children have come to Narnia, Aslan is on the move, ready to lead the children and an army of the inhabitants of the frozen land in a massive battle to overthrow the Witch.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA is a stunning adaptation of C.S. Lewis's classic tale. The film brings the characters to life in a realistic and powerful way. The half-man, half-animal creatures are visually captivating. The talking beavers and fauns will capture your attention from the moment they appear on the screen. The powerful and compassionate voice of Liam Neeson is perfect for the depiction of Aslan the Lion. Tilda Swinton's seductive performance as the White Witch was outstanding. The colorful scenes of the Land of Narnia are a magnificent visual treat.
The portrayal of Lucy Pevensie by Geogie Henley was delightful. Her innocence and childlike wonder creates just the right mood and tone for this story. I predict this film will become an instant classic and an enduring favorite, just as the books have been.
C.S. Lewis, an Oxford Professor of English Literature, wrote this series as a Christian allegory. The story boldly tackles Christian themes of redemption, sacrifice, courage and forgiveness and leads viewers on an examination of these issues wrapped up in a heartwarming children's tale.
Lewis was a member of a prominent writers group known as The Inklings, along with J.R.R.Tolkien. They met regularly in the back room of a coffee house in Oxford. In 1963 Lewis wrote to BBC producer, Lance Sieveking, that he was absolutely opposed to any attempt to produce anthropomorphic animals on film (a la THE WIZARD OF OZ). Though Lewis' imagination led him to create the fantastic story of Narnia, he couldn't conceive the kind of technology that would make a film like this possible. Only recently has the special effects technology been developed that would allow filmmakers to capture the creatures and imaginary world of Narnia in a realistic way.
The complete list of titles in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA series are: THE LION THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, PRINCE CASPIAN, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, THE SILVER CHAIR, THE HORSE AND HIS BOY, THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW and THE LAST BATTLE. Rating: PG, Running Time: 2 hours 12 minutes.
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