That’s what C.S. Lewis thought when he sat down over five decades ago to write a little story for his goddaughter. It became seven stories, including the second one called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
And now the big-screen version comes out Friday amid discussions that it’s a thinly veiled story of religion disguised as a major epic film. The lion character has been described by some as a metaphor for Jesus.
“I never talked about these things with Disney,” says the director. “To me, religion was never an issue with this film. I think we’ve adapted the book for people of all belief systems.” ~The Chicago Sun-Times
That’s amusing–”described by some as a metaphor for Jesus.” Well, in case there was any doubt, there is this non-revelation about the meaning of Lewis’ stories. About a month ago I re-read most of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe after many, many years away from the Narnia stories (I think the last time I had picked them up there were no American armies anywhere in the Persian Gulf, so it was practically a lifetime ago). What struck me was how perfectly obvious the entire allegory was, and that any remotely educated person would be able to see it straightaway. It would take a Herculean effort of rewriting and cutting to eliminate the intensely Christological nature of this story. It cannot be “adapted” for people of “all belief systems” without depriving it of its entire content.
So the director’s ignorance may be a blessing in disguise–someone so daft as to not see the deeply structured Christian story in The Lion will be hard put to distort the message of the story even if he wanted to, since he clearly has no grasp of what the message is. If the narrative is kept basically intact, the myth and its deeper magic will prevail. On the other hand, a director with such a poor grasp of his material cannot make a very good adaptation of it. From the brief glimpses I have seen, it will be visually impressive (as we would expect in the CGI age), but the director’s remarks fill me with a feeling of dread. Of course, that’s what comes of putting the work of a Christian apologist in the hands of Disney.
Update: On the other hand, this venomous, spite-filled garbage from The Guardian suggests that the director has done enough right in faithfully rendering the story to really agitate the Christ-haters out there.