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Kino Korner May 19, 2008
 
Evangelical Propaganda For Kiddies: A Review of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
By Eileen Jones Browse author Email
 
Page 2 of 2
 

Some reviewers will also try to tell you that this film’s Christian allegorical elements are very much downplayed. That’s not true either. Sorry, there’s no getting around the elephant in the living room, or in this case, the martyred-then-resurrected lion in the forest who is forever rebuking Ye of Little Faith. But it’s a proud tradition of denial going all the way back to C.S. Lewis himself, who not only denied that he meant to write a Christian allegory, he denied that his Chronicles work as an allegory in any way at all, based on a technical definition of the word “allegory” that wouldn’t interest anyone but a demented English major.

Angst about the Christian-allegoryness of the Chronicles has continued to the present day, right up through the announcement that Disney Pictures and Walden Media would partner to make big-budget film versions of the series, placing the project squarely in the middle of the US culture wars. Evangelical Christians rejoiced that the books they’ve embraced precisely for their allegorical properties would be shepherded to the screen by Walden Media, the “family friendly” production company owned by conservative Christian billionaire media-magnate Philip Anshutz. Online journal Media Transparency: The Money Behind Conservative Media ran an expose charging that the first film “surely will advance Anshutz’s conservative Christian agenda.” Christians sought reassurance that the aspects they loved best about the books wouldn’t be watered-down for the secular humanist crowd, as evidenced by this October 4, 2005 exchange between Mark Moring of Christianity Today/Movies.com and interviewee Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media:

Q: Probably the biggest concern for Christians is that Aslan isn’t dumbed down to just an awe-inspiring lion, but that he remains an apparent Christ figure.

Flaherty: I think that’s evident to some people in the book, and it’s not evident to others. If it’s evident to you in the book, it’s going to be evident to you in the film. I think that’s the officially sanctioned diplomatic answer! [Laughs]

There’s no question, however, that Walden Media claims a big commitment to faithfully adapting the books they option (Holes, Because of Winn-Dixie), whatever that might mean to the final product. They’re putting fidelity to C.S Lewis’ Chronicles at the center of the film experience. Legions of fans love the books and will turn out to love the films as well. Naysayers who aren’t such fans will sit off to the side grousing to ourselves. The ultimate naysayer may be anti-Narnian Philip Pullman, who wrote the trilogy His Dark Materials and offered the following devastating critique of C.S. Lewis’ worldview:

[For Lewis], death is better than life; boys are better than girls; light-colored people are better than dark-colored people; and so on. There is no shortage of such nauseating drivel in Narnia, if you can face it.

Heads up, beleaguered naysayers! A Disney/Walden Media versions of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters is coming to a theater near you, and there are still lots more Narnian adventures in the pipeline.


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