Night before last, my wife and I went to see The Lion, The Witch,and the Wardrobe. Mr Fuzzle has asked what I think about the movie and about Christian allegories in general.
First, about Christian allegories. I don’t have anything against them, but the mere fact that something expresses some Christian theme doesn’t make it a good tale. Frankly, I get a little tired of the overuse of Christ imagery and cheap use of substitutionary atonement as a deux ex machina. An example of this is the death of Neo in the Matrix trilogy. Nice graphics, crappy ending. On the other hand, Steinbeck’s Eastof Eden is a masterpiece — and his use of the story of Cain and Abel as a framework is brilliant. There’s a truism among writers that there are only 40 (or 7 or 10 or whatever) basic plots, and all novels use variations of these plots. It’s not surprising that some writers take their plots from classic literature that includes the Bible.
There are also allegories, of course, that do not use the Christian themes as a framework for new creation, but are more focused on using a new creation to present the Christian theme. East of Eden was not written, I believe, to introduce young people to the story of Cain and Abel. The Chronicles of Narnia, on the other hand, were not written to provide a new look at substitutionary atonement, it seems to me, but to introduce the ideas to youngsters. That’s a different chore.
The problem with it brings up the second point, for me — that of what I thought about the movie. I firmly believe that there are certain times in a person’s life where certain literature is important, but if read too early or too late, the work will seem stupid. The classic example, to me, is the writing of Herman Hesse. To me, Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game, etc. are pretty sophomoric. I remember picking up a copy of The Glass Bead Game when I was a kid, and I thought it was inpenetrable crap. Then I read it when Iwas a senior in high school and I thought it was brilliant. Then I read it when I was an older adult, and I though it was trivial crap. When I was in college and through medical school, I was a *big* fan of science fiction. Now, I think that 90% of the science fiction I pick up is drivel. I don’t think that science fiction has gotten any worse or better; I think that I have changed. It’s even worse for fantasy. I’ve seen way too much real violence in my life to get a kick out of sword and sorcery stuff any more.
And that’s the problem I had with The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. The graphics were incrementally better than the last ILM/Rhythm and Hues/etc. extravaganza. The acting was good. The plot was reasonable. But it was virtually impossible for me to suspend my disbelief. Some wimpy early adolescent boy who has never seen real violence in his life is going to become an expert in broadsword in a day and lead an army into battle? Sure. It may be a great kid’s movie. In fact I think it *is* a great kids movie. But I’m not a kid. Halfway through the flick, I was amusing myself looking for errors in continuity. Not a good sign.
I wish the flick had been made when I was twelve. I would have loved it.