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

Disney's 2005 adaptation of C.S. Lewis' children's fantasy novel.

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Entertaining Spirituality

  • Apr 6, 2006
Rating:
+5
NOTE: The comments which follow are on the special two-disc Collector's Edition, available with subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

The film is based on and seems remarkably faithful to the C.S. Lewis classic, the second in a series of seven novels. Here's the basic situation. Four siblings are relocated from their London home to a country estate to be with an eccentric uncle, Professor Kirke, during the "Blitz." While playing a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy hides in a wardrobe and -- like Alice and Dorothy -- unexpectedly finds herself in a magical world. Later joined by her two brothers and sister, Lucy and they become involved in a conflict between what my grandson Cameron calls "the good guys" (led by a lion king named Aslan) and "the bad guys" (led by a witch named Jadis) at a time when a curse (Jadis') has confined Narnia to perpetual winter but without Christmas. There is one way to break her curse -- best revealed within the narrative -- and eventually that happens but not until after a series of adventures which are always entertaining but never threatening to young sensibilities.

As did Alice and Dorothy, Lucy and her companions encounter all manner of strange creatures (both allies and foes) which include hags, soldiers, a German pilot, Rumblebuffin the Giant, red and black dwarves, centaurs, satyrs, wolves, Philip the Horse, fauns, centaur archers, and gryphons. Eventually, after a spectacular battle, Jadis is defeated and the curse is ended. The special effects are stunning and I especially appreciate anthropomorphism which is never "cute." The actors who portray the four Pevensie children, especially Georgie Henley as Lucy, are exceptionally talented. Cloying I can always do without.

I think it would be a mistake to force comparisons and contrasts between this film and any of the Potter and Ring films. There are similarities and differences, to be sure, but none which seems to me to be especially significant. I thoroughly enjoyed this film because plot, acting, imagery, and musical score are so brilliantly integrated in the service of effective storytelling. Others may find -- and either admire or object to -- what they perceive to be the film's presentation of Lewis' Christian beliefs. What seems much more relevant to me is the emphasis on values common to all of the world's great religions and, indeed, to codes of ethics which are wholly secular. Faith, for example, as well as love, courage, devotion, loyalty, self-sacrifice, and trust. These values are affirmed but only by implication. Hence young Cameron's immediate grasp of what is "good" and "bad" in character and behavior.

The production values are superb, the conflicts and their resolution are plausible, and the film's running of time of 134 minutes seems just right. This is a film which offers a great deal to viewers of all ages. As my rating correctly indicates, I highly recommend it.

The additional features provided in the two-disc Collector's Edition really are "special" and include a commentary in which Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and director Andrew Adamson participate; a production commentary by director Andrew Adamson, production designer Roger Ford and producer Mark Johnson; "bloopers"; Narnia "fun facts"; several featurettes such as an in-depth look at cinematic storytellers, director's diary and the children's magical journey; also "Chronicle of a Director," "The Children's Magical Journey," and "Anatomy of a Scene: the Melting River." It takes about ten hours to view the two discs to completion. My guess (only a guess) is that most people will also view only those special features of greatest interest to them. My grandchildren (ranging in age from five to fourteen) seem to prefer watching only the film and do so again and again.

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More The Chronicles of Narnia: The ... reviews
review by . December 19, 2010
I was never really into the Chronicles of Narnia books as a kid, but when this came out back in 2005, I was genuinely excited to see it. Boy, was I not disappointed. Not only do the special effects work, but the performances work, the action works, everything just works, and it makes this franchise the only fantasy franchise that has even been able to stand its ground against Harry Potter. I have yet to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but you can expect a review of Prince Caspian coming soon.   …
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
There isn't a weak moment in the film at all. I have never really cared for the Narnia stuff but the movie does a great job of being moral without being moralistic.
review by . December 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
After a horrid BBC adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe does a decent job of bringing the first book to life. The Pevensie kids were generally well cast, and Georgie Henley as young Lucy steals the show. James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus is also very good. The film provides a visual feast, from snowy mountains to fauns and minotaurs. Harry Gregson-Williams' moving soundtrack provides an epic backdrop for the action.   &n …
review by . February 11, 2009
DVD
World War II is raging, bombs are falling on London, and children are being evacuated to the countryside for safety.  The four Pevensie children are sent to live in a big house owned by an old professor. One day they discover an old wardrobe in the attic...that just happens to be the portal to the magical kingdom of Narnia. There, it is always winter, but never Christmas, thanks to the evil White Witch. Opposing her is King Aslan, mighty lion and defender of all that is good. The children …
review by . December 19, 2008
Entering Narnia
"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!"  -Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis      When it was announced that Disney had bought the rights to C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, I have to admit that I was worried. Walt Disney Studios haven't always been known to produce faithful adaptations of books (example: The Black Cauldron). But in late …
review by . April 29, 2009
I went to this movie expecting to be bored by talking animals and child stuff and was surprised by the quality of this well made film that grabs you from the start. Four children living in WW II London are sent to live in the countryside by their mother to protect them from the frequent air raids. They end up in a mansion on a huge estate. The mansion has one room with nothing in it but an armoir. The children use it to hide and are accidently transported to a fantasy world with talking animals …
review by . April 14, 2006
CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia may very well have been a book intended for children but it was also the result of a life through the Great Wars and the effects those wars had one the individual. Gratefully in Andrew Adamson's directorial hands that part of the story that lends the need for the fantasy is preserved.    The concept of separating children from their parents during the Blitz in London in WW II is now showing up in many novels. Lewis was one of the first to address …
review by . April 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" presents the C.S. Lewis fantasy classic very well. (The story takes place during World War II in England where Lucy, the youngest of four siblings [Peter, Edmund, and Susan] stumbles upon a magical kingdom named Narnia in the back of a wardrobe of a professor's mansion while playing hide-and-go-seek.) The children find themselves in a world of animals, fauns, and other mythical beasts who are captive to a witch's spell casting a perennial …
review by . December 13, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I need to preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. In fact, they are my favorite books of all time. C.S. Lewis is my favorite author--I've read a wide variety of his works (including some essays he wrote about 17th century English literature) and, in my opinion, the man was not capable of bad writing. I remember when I was about 11-12 years old and after a terrible argument in my family, I tried repeatedly over and over and over to get away from it all and …
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 2005 epic fantasy film directed by Andrew Adamson based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published and second chronological novel in C. S. Lewis's children's fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. It was produced by Walden Media and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes play Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund, four British children evacuated during the Blitz to the countryside, who find a wardrobe that leads to the fantasy world of Narnia. There they ally with the Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) against the forces of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton).

It was released on December 9, 2005 in both Europe and North America to positive reviews and was highly successful at the box office. It won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Make Up and various other awards, and is the first film in the series of films based on the books. An Extended Edition was released on December 12, 2006 and was only made available on DVD until January 31, 2007 when it was discontinued. It was the best selling DVD in North America in 2006 taking in $332.7 million that year. It aired on Disney Channel, uninterrupted by commercials, on June 19, 2009. On ABC Family the film is presented in its extended version whereas other channels present it in its theatrical version. In 2008 it was followed by a sequel Prince

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