So, the event has happened, I have seen the film I’ve been itching to see for several months now. The film I’ve been anticipating in a slightly apprehensive way. When you love and know a book off by heart as much as I do with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it’s hard to see how someone could do justice to it. And of course the reality is that film may never beat imagination and the narration of a master story teller, films never quite capture the significance of moments as well as a narrator can. (I’m sure several people could provide adequate examples to counteract that theory but bear with me.) I’m thinking of the moment the children hear the name Aslan in the book. Their reaction goes something like this:
“‘They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps he has already landed’. And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was anymore than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different…At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer”
It’s hard to capture that kind of thing on the screen, no matter how good the actors.
The film is reviewed elsewhere, I’m not going to attempt a deep analysis. But there a few comments worth mentioning. It’s a good film, it’s pretty faithful to the book most of the way through. Edmunds betrayal and Aslan’s paying the price for his death is done well. But, I think, the film somewhat misses the point. The film is about the children fulfilling destiny, the book is about Aslan transforming Narnia and the lives of the children. I guess that’s to be expected. Aslan was never going to fit well onto the screen and it’s hard to capture the character and affect of him, one of the reasons CS.Lewis was never all that keen on the books going into film. It’s not a satisfying portrayal of Aslan, but not unsurprising given the complexity of trying to portray the affect he has on people.
So if you haven’t, or if you haven’t for a while, pick up the book. Be entranced again by the Aslan within it and ponder the remarkable similarities there are to the character of God. The way Aslan is expressed in the book really helps me understand and grasp how God can be so powerful, awesome and scary whilst being tender, loving and intimate all at the same time.