Friday, December 09, 2005

"The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe"

Earlier today, Kathryn Lopez at National Review Online linked to a review of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" in an Ohio newspaper, the Akron Beacon Journal. There's a paragraph in that review that I think summarizes why the movie is so appealing to Christians and why some critics dislike it:

What proves too uncomfortable at times, however, are the overt religious elements associated with the piece. Disney, the film's distributor, would like to downplay those elements to a certain extent, but they are there and they are unmistakable. When a pivotal character is a lion -- the king of beasts -- and makes the ultimate sacrifice, only to be resurrected, there aren't any other comparisons to be made, and given Lewis' status as a leading writer of Christian thought, you can't deny its existence.

I've read George Thomas' entire review, and he does give some other reasons for holding a negative view of the movie. But none of them seem convincing to me. For example, how could anybody make a movie of this sort without the viewers knowing that some of the characters aren't real? Thomas begins his review with a positive reference to The Lord of the Rings. Surely he knew that not everything in those movies was real. Computer graphics and other unreal elements were used. If he thinks that making a movie out of something like The Lord of the Rings is acceptable, even though it would require using some features that viewers would know are unreal, then why does he object in this case? It seems that the Christian content of "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" is his primary objection, with the other objections being far less significant, if they're even true objections at all. I suspect that this is true of a lot of people criticizing this movie.

If you go to Thomas' blog, you see that he's been posting criticisms of the movie for a while now, and he repeatedly mentions the religious aspect of it. He'll say at one point that he has no problem with making such a religious movie, then he'll say at another point that he didn't like something or other about the religious nature of it. It seems that he's trying to have it both ways.

I've seen that Christianity Today criticizes the movie for not portraying Aslan well enough, and I would expect any movie portrayal of a Christ figure to be disappointing to some extent. There probably are some elements of the movie that can reasonably be criticized. I haven't seen it yet, but plan to see it soon. I doubt, though, that reviewers like George Thomas are looking at much other than the religious aspect of the movie, and that religious aspect is enough to motivate them to give a negative review. The gospel still offends people, even when it's veiled in a fictional story.