Chronicles of Narnia — it was wonderful

I saw Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe today, and loved it. I’m at the Keep right now, on wireless, so I’ll spare you a full review. That said, here are some high points:

1) C.S. Lewis’ original story was an allegory for the Atonement of Christ. The film preserves that perfectly. You don’t HAVE to be Christian to appreciate this, but it will be pretty hard to miss.

2) The child actors were awesome.

3) The effects were great. It didn’t seem like a cutting-edge effects flick, but the effects were solid enough to fully support the story. And Aslan and the beavers were the most believable talking animals I think I’ve ever seen.

I really appreciated the message of the film, especially at this time of year. Obviously, I recommend you see it in the theaters — Aslan’s roar just won’t sound right on any but the best home systems.


28 thoughts on “Chronicles of Narnia — it was wonderful”

  1. I caught it from 12am to 2:30 am at Citiplace here in Baton Rouge.Its more fun to watch with all the craziest fans. I agree with your assessment, this one needs to be seen on the wide screen. I hope they do the other books as well. Did your showing feature the preview for Pirates of the Caribbian 2: Dead man’s Chest?

  2. I have a question about Narnia that I hope won’t upset or disappoint you:

    Will those of us who are not Christian still enjoy it, or will we feel beat about the head, shoulders and dangly bits by the Allegory? (good christian fiction = Frank Peretti, fiction that beats you over the head = Left Behind).

    1. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I own all the books. I’m not a Christian and I was not at all disturbed by the allegories as they aren’t forced. If the movie is as well done as the books, you might not even notice the parallel unless you’re familiar with the story of Christ.

      1. I was only twelve or thirteen when I read the books, but for the life of me, I could never figure out where the allegories were. And I’d gone in knowing what the books were supposed to be about.

        But then again, I don’t remember a lot of the things people mention, either. Perhaps it’s time for me to re-read them.

    2. Don’t worry about the headbeating. I’m pretty non-religious (Not atheist or agnostic, just non-practicing of any religion), and there was no “CHECK OUT MY THICK RELIGION PIPES” going on in the movie. It was just a great movie.

    3. I personally did feel like the allegory was beating me about the head and shoulders, but YMMV. I’m a touch prejudiced against the Narnia series because I didn’t know about the intended message untill after I read it. (making parts of the story a touch confusing) After I figured it out, I felt more than a little bit betrayed/backstabbed by the intrusion of a hostile faith* into an otherwise decent book.

      It IS a good movie though, allegory or not.

      (*please keep in mind that the ‘hostile faith’ remark was my impression and feelings at the time, and is not intended to be a cheap shot at Christianity as a whole. It may also be usefull to know that I was 8 at the time, which possibly explains why the realization made such an impact.)

  3. The purpose of an allegory is to help people better understand a particular topic. But to those who lack a basic understanding of that topic, the allegory (if it’s a good one) will stand on its own.

    C.S. Lewis’ work is excellent, and the movie is true to his writings. Non-Christians won’t be offended, or feel “bullied” by the message of the film, but they might not find the film as inspiring, since the layers of meaning won’t resonate the same way with them.


    1. I disagree that non-Christians won’t find the message as inspiring. There’s something about C.S. Lewis’ work that makes the message of compassion, sacrifice and the true nature of ‘Good’ work on a universal level.

      Certainly, a familiarity with Christian symbols and the gospel makes the message easier to spot, but it’s hardly required.

    2. Just checking. 🙂 Some writers or dirctors get so caught up in “The Message” that they lose sight of the fact that they are supposed to be producing an engaging story. Glad this isn’t one of those cases.

  4. How much does it push the allegory? I’m mostly anti-christian but remember reading the books and enjoying them. I don’t want to go to see a thinly veiled sermon, I want to be entertained.

    1. It doesn’t ‘push’ the allegory at all. I myself know several practicing pagans who enjoyed the movie – now, most of them aren’t ‘anti-Christian’, but the point still stands.

      C.S. Lewis is a master of allegory. In the books, the only one that could be said to ‘bludgeon’ is the Last Battle, with its clear overtones of Armageddon.

      The early books could easily just be seen as very good fantasy.

      1. Good. I had been looking forward to the movie, but got alarmed when the distributor pitched it hard to the same people that found Passion ofthe Christ so compelling. I can’t wait to see it, now.

  5. Obviously, I recommend you see it in the theaters — Aslan’s roar just won’t sound right on any but the best home systems.

    Sue and I are going to go see it in a THX theater tomorrow or Sunday. 🙂

  6. Nice to finally read a good review. The previous two reviews (Detroit Free Press and CNN) both had me worried that I was going to be disappointed.

  7. Aslan

    I know I’ve just thrown up a bunch of comments, but Narnia is near and dear to my heart.

    You see – The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was the first book my father ever read aloud to me. So my memories of it are tightly bound up in my childhood, and sitting on the couch with my father reading it. I’ve been able to come back to it as an adult, and gain a deeper understanding of it, and it’s because of this work that I consider myself Christian (unaffiliated, yes, but I still believe).

    And the movie… the movie manages to take all of that, wrap it up in a gorgeous package, and get it all -RIGHT-. Even the little details are caught and held. I can only hope that they’re already working on Prince Caspian.

    And Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan is perfect.

  8. I read the Narnia books when I was a kid. I don’t remember exactly at what point I realized it was a Christian allegory. I put the books down feeling cheated and sad, and it was a while before I could go back to them. I’d lost most of my enjoyment of them, and I don’t think I ever finished the series. I’d been planning on giving the movie a pass, but maybe now I’ll see it and find out if I still feel the same way.

    I know most people don’t have the same experience of the Christian church as I do.

    1. I assure you, the film is nothing like a Christian CHURCH. The messages there aren’t church-specific, and the only real Christian content in the film (other than the mention of Christmas, and the appearance of the Santa-like “gift-giver”) is what you bring into the theater with you.

      If story elements centering on forgiveness, humility, and repentance have negative associations for you, you’re probably not going to enjoy the movie. But you also have my pity, because those elements are critical to a well-balanced life. We can’t get by without them.

      Non- or Anti-Christians might do well to look at silicon shaman’s post below, where he demonstrates that the film could just as easily be a Mithran allegory.


      1. No, I have no negative associations with forgiveness, repentence, or humility; I heartily endorse all three. I don’t need any pity. Upon further reflection, I think it’s the sacrifice theme that bothers me about Narnia and any other such story, Christian or non-Christian. (It bothered me in the movie Hair, too.) I don’t quite know why, but I’m going to think about it. And I will see the movie. Because maybe it’ll give me a clue, and maybe it’ll help support more lavish British fantasies on the wide screen. 🙂

  9. Arrgh


    Lets be clear on one thing Howard. Narnia is not a Christian allogory.

    C.S Lewis was a scholor of ancient roman history, ok. Narnia is a Mitras allogory. Lewis dropped some darn big hints about that actually in the book.
    Aslan is “Lord of Open Pastures” to Qoute and “not a tame lion”.

    Mithras is described as:
    “Mithras was known as ‘The Lord of the Wide Pastures, or the Lion God also known as the Untamed Lion.

    Roman Mithras was perhaps the greatest rival to early Christianity for many reasons. As well as being a popular pagan religion practised by the Roman Army, Mithraism had many similarities to Christianity. Mithras was born of a virgin, remained celibate, his worship involving baptism, the partaking of bread marked with a cross and wine as sacrificial blood, held Sundays sacred and Mithras was born on 25th of December. Mithraist called themselves ‘brother’ and were led by a priest called ‘father’ (Pater).

    Mithras was an astrological cult, and the ascention of Mithras and his rebirth took place during the house of Leo, [and in a cave].

    If you read the Chronicles of Narnia, it is mentioned that the stone table upon which Aslan is sacrificed, was orginally inside a cave in the hill upon which it rests.

    Sorry Howard, but I’m trying to fight this insidious meme that Narnia = Christian story. Because it just isn’t true. C.S Lewis himself fought it for years, even taking out a newspaper ad refuting it. Although he stopped short of saying what it was, [but for his time that is understandable.]

    1. Re: Arrgh

      If it looks like a Christian Allegory, if it walks and talks like a Christian Allegory, then it IS a Christian Allegory — regardless of supposed “author intent.”

      Allegories are like that. They’re SUPPOSED to be like that. They can stand on their own, and mean multiple things to multiple people. Sure, LWW can also be a retelling of Mithras, but that hardly invalidates its value to the Christian community.


      1. Re: Arrgh

        See the next post down about “Supposal” vs “Allegory.”

        Also, it’s hardly an “insidious meme.” Relax. You’ll give yourself an aneurism.

    2. Re: Arrgh

      Now that I’ve read up a little further on both Mithraism and C.S. Lewis, I need to take further issue with your claim:

      1) C.S. Lewis never came out and said that The Chronicles of Narnia was a Mithran allegory. You imply that this is because he was afraid to. I refute that. He didn’t appear to be afraid of much at all, and was very explicit in what he was writing about.

      2) C.S. Lewis DID come out and say that The Chronicles of Narnia was not an “allegory” at all, but was instead a “supposal.” He went on to say that it WAS a Christian “supposal.” See the post below for details, including Lewis’ actual statements on that subject.

      3) The logic that says “so-and-so was a scholar of such-and-such, therefore his story means this-and-that” is flawed. While I don’t doubt that C.S. Lewis drew upon the Mithran mythos during his world-building exercise (the quotations and parallels are hard to miss, once you’re familiar with both sets), that’s not the same as creating a Mithran allegory. The similarities between Mithraism and Christianity made his work as an author EASIER, and he exploited that. THIS is why he never came out and said he was writing about Mithra. He wasn’t.

      Outside the context of Lewis’ work, the discussion of Mithraism and Christianity is a fascinating one. It is clear that both mythoses have common central themes. LOTS of mythoses share these themes. This is not the place for such a wide-ranging discourse, however.

  10. Narnia not a Chistian “allegory”

    C.S. Lewis said that the Narnia books are not a Christian Allegory:

    “Lewis emphasizes this point in a December 1958 letter to a lady named Mrs. Hook:

    [Aslan] is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not allegory at all.”

    To a certain extent, this is just a technicality in terminology. LWW clearly does draw on Christian themes – it’s just that the literary technique being used is a “supposal” rather than an allegory. Read this Dummies page for more info.

    I’m an atheist, and I’m looking forward to the movie. I enjoyed the books as a child. I like the Illiad and the Odyssey even though, unlike Homer, I don’t believe in the Greek gods. Narnia draws on a whole range of mythologies that I don’t subscribe to. It’s still great fun to imagine a world where there are talking animals, Father Christmas really exists, Centaurs and fauns run about, and the creator of the world becomes incarnate, dies and rises again.

    1. Re: Narnia not a Chistian “allegory”


      Two things:

      1) the story, taken as a whole, is a “supposal.”
      2) Elements of the story, extracted from the supposal, function as allegories.
      3) Okay, THREE things: the lay reader wouldn’t know a supposal from a suppository. Using the word “allegory” in a review of the film is quite appropriate.


  11. Thanks to the success of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movie franchises, I fully expect to see almost a glut of “British-written fantasy series of at least 1,000 pages” (eg, Cooper’s “The Dark Is Rising”) adapted to the big screen – and, hopefully, with the earlier examples to build on, the later movies will continue to be /good/ adaptations.

    It might have just been the quality of the screen I went to – but even looking for CGI seams, I didn’t /find/ any. (Well, okay, the final shot of the gift-giver’s sled was a bit iffy, but that was about it. 🙂 )

    There’s little else that I can add to all the other reviews of the movie… other than that oddly, one of the items that tickled me the most was seeing a beaver wearing chainmail. (But then again, I do tend to focus on humble rodents, and seeing one willing to help out as much as they could, well… 🙂 )

    (Now, if only the Narnia RPG license would end up using a decent ruleset – GURPS instead of d20, perhaps… )

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