Disney Opens the Door to Narnia
By Dan Wooding
Assist News Service
great news is that the Disney movie version of The Lion, the Witch
and the Wardrobe is not only very
entertaining, but clearly retains the deeper truth and essence of C.
great novel, the first in his great seven part Chronicles of Narnia redemptive fantasy series.”
That’s the view of Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE® after
he was among the audience at the Director’s Guild just eleven
hours after the final edits.
He told ANS, “The audience I was with thrilled to the exciting
motion picture, adapted beautifully from the novel that almost one
hundred million people have read and loved. Neither the fans of the
book, nor the fans of the story behind the story, will be disappointed.”
Dr. Baehr went on to say, “The movie works well and is a great
tool for the Church to help people understand the truth of the Gospel
of Jesus Christ. Very, very few people will see the slight divergences
that the movie takes from the novel. Even fewer will understand that
the novel itself made an excellent entertaining script for the 1979
CBS Television version that won an Emmy in 1980. And, even fewer will
see the very slight and subtle shifts in the new movie.
“That said, it should be noted that a large portion of the readers have
missed the book’s clear Christological allusions, although C. S. Lewis
said in his March 1961 letter to Anne that The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe was his way of retelling the true story of the death and resurrection of Jesus
“The movie itself starts slightly before the book with an air raid in
London that puts the four Pevensie children, Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan,
in jeopardy. The children are sent out of the city to stay with Prof. Kirk
in the countryside for protection.”
Dr. Baehr then explains the story:
“During a game of Hide and Seek, Lucy stumbles on an old wardrobe. The
wardrobe leads her to Narnia, a world with talking animals and mythical creatures.
There, she meets a faun, who thinks better of kidnapping her and puts his life
in jeopardy by letting her return to the world of men.
“By the way, the issue in Narnia is this: The evil White Witch has taken
control of the land, turning it into a state of forever winter but never Christmas.
A prophecy says that four sons and daughters of Adam and Eve will come to Narnia
and help of Aslan, the son of the Emperor Beyond the Sea, free Narnia from
the White Witch. To thwart the prophecy, the White Witch has told everyone
that, if they see a son or daughter of Adam and Eve, they should kidnap and
bring them to her. Amusingly, the creatures of Narnia believe that the sons
and daughters of Adam and Eve are a false myth.
“When Lucy returns to the world of human beings, her brothers Edmund
and Peter and her sister Susan do not believe she was in Narnia. Lucy goes
to Narnia through the wardrobe a second time. Edmund follows her and becomes
a pawn of the White Witch by being enticed by her seductive traits. Like Satan,
the White Witch offers Edmund something that he already has, the ability to
rule Narnia, and traps him with a counterfeit sacrament of Turkish Delight,
a jelly confection dusted with sugar. When Edmund and Lucy return, Edmund lies
and tells Susan and Peter that Lucy was making everything up.
“Eventually, all four children walk through the wardrobe to Narnia.
The White Witch captures Edmund. His sisters and brother must find rush
to find Aslan to try to set Edmund free. Aslan has returned to Narnia
to defeat the White Witch and bring Christmas and spring back to the
“Eventually, Aslan makes a bargain with the White Witch that he will die
for Edmund’s treachery. Thus, the battle begins to deliver Narnia from
the clutches of the White Witch, and the resurrection of Aslan breaks the Witch’s
control over Narnia.”
Dr. Baehr went on to say, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is tremendously
exciting. Some of the early defects have been cured. There is a sense of Providence
leading the children into Narnia. There is also a prophetic element.
“The production quality is much greater than the sum of its parts. The
camerawork is great. The computer generated images are terrific and enchanting.
The four children are very good, especially Lucy. Everyone involved deserves
“Though they have deleted some scenes from the book and added others, the
story has retained its theological foundation. Some of this is due to the strength
of the book itself. Certainly some of the theology has been toned down. There
are no direct references to the Emperor Beyond the Sea, for instance. Also, the
sacramental communion banquet with the coming of Father Christmas and the gifts
of the Spirit has been truncated into a very brief scene with Father Christmas.
“Finally, the resurrection romp with Aslan, Lucy and Susan has also been
eliminated, and the movie focuses more on the children being the solution to
the evil in Narnia when in fact the victory is Aslan’s, and the children,
just like we are in our world, are more than conquerors because they are heirs
to the victory that Aslan wins on the stone table, and Jesus Christ won on the
“Again, however, these changes are subtle, with a little more emphasis
on the Creation rather than the Creator. Even so, you have to be very close to
the book and very theologically astute to notice the changes.
“In fact, the movie is a very clear Christological allusion, or imagining,
of the story of Jesus Christ. The minor changes do not take away from that meaning
in the book, which lifts up the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as our deliverer from
the eternal winter of sin and damnation. After months of anticipation, those
who love Narnia can rejoice that Disney and Walden have given them a wonderful
movie that tells the story in an entertaining, exciting, thrilling, and respectful
“Andrew Adamson said that when he directed the movie, he started from his
memory. He felt that the book was too thin, so the movie reflects his memory
of the book, not the actual book. He understands the element of sacrifice and
redemption, but his concern was for the empowering of the children. Clearly,
his perspective helped produce the subtle shift from the great clarity of the
book itself, but his love for the original source ultimately keeps the movie
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Special Section
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More from Assist News Service
Dan Wooding is an award winning British journalist now living
in Southern California with his wife Norma. He is the founder and
international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic
Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS).
Assist News Service (ANS) is an outreach of Open Doors USA, a ministry that has served the suffering Church around the world for nearly 50 years. You can get more information by logging onto their Web site at www.opendoorsusa.org. © Used with permission.
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