CS LEWIS ANALYSIS
Narnia Beckons: Chronicles Will Capture Hearts and Imaginations
By Dan Wooding
Assist News Service
HOLLYWOOD, CA (ANS) – The hearts of millions will soon be captured with the release in movie theaters around the world of Walt Disney Pictures/Walden Media's new movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Based on the book by C. S. Lewis, it is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year, but Dr. Ted Baehr, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission has said in an interview that hopes that people who view the film will not lose sight of its "deeper meaning."
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was written by C. S. Lewis in 1950, when he was a high-powered Oxford professor and perhaps the 20th Century's most famous convert to Christianity. An atheist from boyhood, he converted at age 33 to Christianity and devoted much of the rest of his life to writing about faith.
Dr. Baehr, who is also the publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®, said in the interview, "C. S. Lewis was the great Christian apologist of the 20th Century. His radio programs reached millions and galvanized a new revival in the 1940s in the United Kingdom during World War II. His books, including The Chronicles of Narnia, have been read by 90 million people, many of whom have seen a deeper truth in them."
He went on to say, "It is in one of his last letters (5 March 1961) to an older child, Anne, that Lewis most fully explains his intentions for the Chronicles of Narnia. Anne seems to have written Lewis about a scene from Chapter XVI, 'The Healing of Harms,' in The Silver Chair. Aslan, Eustace and Jill are in Aslan's Country and they have just witnessed the restoration of the dead King Caspian to full life and youthful vigor. Jill cannot understand what she has just seen, so Aslan explains that Caspian had died and so had he."
Baehr then quotes from the letter from C. S. Lewis who wrote:
What Aslan meant when he said he had died is, in one sense plain enough. Read the earlier book in this series called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and you will find the full story of how he was killed by the White Witch and came to life again. When you have read that, I think you will probably see that there is a deeper meaning behind it. The whole Narnian story is about Christ. That is to say, I asked myself 'Supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?' The stories are my answers. Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called 'The Lion of Judah' in the Bible; (c) I'd been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this.
- The Magician's Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
- The Lion etc. the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
- Prince Caspian restoration of the true religion after corruption.
- The Horse and His Boy the calling and conversion of a heathen.
- The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep).
- The Silver Chair the continuing war with the powers of darkness.
- The Last Battle the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape). The end of the world and the Last Judgment."
Dr. Baehr said the source for this is from Bluspels and Flalansferes: A Semantic Nightmare, in Selected Literary Essays, Walter Hooper, ed. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 426.
He then said, "The good news is that it is coming to the big screen, but the even better news is there are lots of great books coming out to help people understand the story. My friend Paul Ford has done an update of his famous Companion to Narnia. In fact, there have been so many books that the press is losing track of them. However, according to Paul Ford and many other C.S. Lewis experts, one of the best books with a great selection of the best articles from some of the top experts is Narnia Beckons: C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Beyond by Ted Baehr and James Baehr, published by Broadman & Holman.
"NOT JUST A GOOD YARN. . ."
"Needless to say, on the other side of the church-state-secular-world divide, some of the people behind the movie do not want the movie identified with a Christian message. They are trying to reach a broad audience and are trying to pretend that the whole story is just a good yarn. Frankly, we are happy that these people have made the movie, but we have also noticed that they have taken a hard stance against the publishers and others who want to get the truth out; the real story of Aslan. It's up to the People of God; up to the believers, to help people go deeper or as C.S. Lewis would say through his character, Reepicheep, 'Go further in and go further up.' We are happy that the people are producing the movie, but we don't want what the real message behind the story to be lost. After all, C. S. Lewis once said, 'Watered down Christianity is nothing at all.' We need to use this opportunity, whatever the secular world says, to present the truth of Jesus Christ."
In this regard, Christian leaders have commended Narnia Beckons: C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Beyond to readers of all ages:
"Ted Baehr has done it again! Just in time for the release of the film based on the C. S. Lewis classic, Ted and his son have compiled a wonderful guide to Lewis and his literary creations, which communicate Christian truths so well. This book contains many gems – including C. S. Lewis's final interview.
"I wish you every success with this new book, Ted, and trust that your ministry will continue to flourish and bear much fruit for the Kingdom."
Sincerely in Christ,
D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.
Order your copy of Dr. Ted Baehr's book, Narnia Beckons: C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Beyond
Order your copy of Companion to Narnia
Order your copy of The Chronicles of Narnia
Order your copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
More from Assist New Service (ANS)
Dr. Ted Baehr is the author of What Shall We Watch Tonight?, Frodo and Harry, Fairth in God and Generals, The Media-Wise Family, Getting the Word Out, and other books. He is the publisher of MovieGuide ®, and the Chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission™ ministry. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to www.movieguide.org.
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