Dec 19, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I went to see this film not expecting a thing. After all, I had no idea what to expect. I had avoided reading any reviews or listening to any opinions of the movie for a week; I wanted to go in with a completely neutral perspective, and did not want my opinion to be swayed in the slightest before I saw it for myself.

Unfortunately, I had never even heard of Narnia prior to this summer. I now wish I could have discovered or been introduced to the literature when I was a child, which would certainly make its conversion into a major motion picture much more exciting for me. Though I had never picked up any of the books, I was still filled with a sense of glee as I strolled into the theatre. I had a strong feeling I would enjoy this film. Even the previews were enjoyable, featuring Over the Hedge (can't wait to see that one!), Ice Age 2, and Curious George. Well, forget about that last one; much too preschoolish for my tastes. But enough foreplay, allow me to concisely summarise my thoughts on the first Narnia installment, because conciseness is good.

I don't feel I even need to say it, but I will for the sake of proper courtesy. There are spoilers in this entry, so if you have not yet seen Narnia: W³ and don't want surprises ruined, read no further.

The first part of the movie, up until about the point where all the children find themselves in the wondrous land of Narnia, seemed to move rather slowly. Even my patient self found me getting a little impatient. Though, the source of my impatience could be very my anticipation of the exciting events that would surely unfold later in the film, so perhaps it was for the better.

The lamppost. Yes, I was given chills when I first laid eyes upon the lamppost. See, the lamppost at the edge of Narnia looks very, very similar to a recurring icon in my dreams that has been present in my sub-conscious for as long as I can remember. "The End of Time" location in the Super Nintendo game Chrono Trigger looks hauntingly similar to the place where that object resides- a place I have revisited in hundreds if not thousands of my dreams, far back as I can remember. It consists of little more than a platform surrounded by eternal misty void, with an eerie-looking lamppost planted right in the middle, somehow burning on even as time is at a standstill. When I first visited "The End of Time" in that game, I was absolutely convinced I was dreaming. When I saw the lamppost after Lucy first wandered into Narnia through the wardrobe, I thought I was dreaming. I was immediately taken to that familiar place. It is one of the things that defines my sub-conscious, and when certain images trigger conscious memories of that place, I am left a little spellbound. In other words, I was deeply touched by the movie very early on.

Mr. Tumnus the Faun is a loveable character, as was most certainly intentional. Though, my heart most certainly went out to the beavers, in all their glory and slaptail antics, and of course, the fox. Tilda Swinton plays a stunningly icy impression of the White Witch, which I feel captures the extent of her evilness and then some.

I recognised a particular location in the film captured by sweeping aerial footage: Angel's Window on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. It looked magnificent in the movie, covered with snow, but I found it amazing when I traveled up there in June of 2003.

It is simply a beautiful film all around. Much of the scenery is enchanting and spectacular, the special effects in action sequences are done very well, and the creatures are rendered marvelously. C.S. Lewis may have said he never wanted his novels to be converted into films, but he had no way of knowing just how realistically a talking lion could be rendered in the 21st century. Aslan is amazing. His facial expressions, body movements, everything... so convincing. The majesty of a lion, my goodness. I could have lost myself in his mane quite easily. The computer-generated wolves were quite breathtaking as well.

Though, a little blood certainly would have made things seem a little more passionate, especially where Aslan bares his fangs after mauling the White Witch. That scene needed blood dripping from his pearly white fangs. It just plain needed it, even if it meant a PG-13 rating. In my opinion, the movie was a little too intense for a PG rating, anyway. Maybe they'll wise up with the next film.

Oh, and I really loved the musical score. Very, very lovely and affecting, yet anything but overly dramatic and cheesy a la Lord of teh Rings.

Susi quickly expressed his loath towards the movie blatantly being used as a tool for marketing Christianity. No one can reasonably deny such a thing, because the evidence is abundant. I smelled Aslan's "resurrection" before he was even killed. And those evil, evil wolves! The difference between him and I is that it actually negatively affected his overall enjoyment of the film, whereas I managed to look beyond that truth and simply enjoy it for it what it was: a sensational, riveting, awe-inspiring epic fantasy tale. I can empathise with his cynicism but only to a degree, because I did not have the same experience as he did actually having to attend a Catholic school and be directly bombarded on a daily basis with mind-fucking Christian propaganda. Poor soul. Thank goodness he managed to get out from under all that shit. The wolf within prevails in those who are strong.

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