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Don't underestimate a Lion, a Witch and some Wardrobe - CinemaDave

Dec. 14th, 2005 06:04 pm Don't underestimate a Lion, a Witch and some Wardrobe

It has been 25 years ago this month that I received
acceptance to Florida State University. With the
suspense over, the remainder of my senior year at Deerfield
Beach High School became one ponderous and dull
affair. One of the few entertaining things that I did
was read Kurt Vonnegut's "Slaughterhouse 5," J.R.R.
Tolkein's "The Lord of the Rings" and C.S. Lewis "The
Chronicles of Narnia. If Vonnegut's works were the
most pessimistic, then the C.S. Lewis Christian allegory
proved to be the most positive reading.

Book one of Clive Staples Lewis' "Chronicles of
Narnia" is titled "The Lion, the Witch and the
Wardrobe." Written in an omnipresent grandfatherly
tone, the narrative begins with the four Pevensie
children visiting their Grandfather (Jim Broadbent).
The two youngest children, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and
Edmund (Skandar Keynes) play in a wardrobe closet and
discover the magical world of Narnia on the other side.
While Lucy makes friends with a faun, the selfish Edmund is
seduced by the Witch White (Tilda Swinton). The Witch
Which sees Edmund and Lucy's visit to Narnia as an
omen to the end of her reign of 100 years of winter.

Casting a spell upon the boy, Edmund develops an
addiction to Turkish delight. Edmund is given the
task to trick his older bother Peter (William Moseley)
and sister Susan (Anna Popplewell) to visit Narnia and
become a prisoners of the White Witch. Fortunately
Lucy befriends the Beaver family who informs the Pevensie
children about Aslan, a majestic lion who understands the
triumph of Good over Evil.

Voiced by Liam Neeson, Aslan the lion is an inspiring
character and joins the partheon of animated actors
such as Gollum and Yoda. Majestic upon his first
appearance, Aslan is an iconic figure with the
foreordained knowledge that he must suffer and
sacrifice for the overall good of Narnia. The
combination of vocal technique and special effects
creates instant audience empathy.

A standard villain in book, Tilda Swinton turns the
White Witch a formidable adversary to Aslan and the
Pevensie Family. With a strong resemblance to film
critic colleague Phoebe Flowers, the White Witch is
charming, cruel, bossy and a deceiver. Her comeuppance
is a relief for the audience and a triumph for the
filmmakers.

The 67 million dollar non holiday weekend has been
attributed to evangelical marketing between Walt
Disney and major churches. The First
Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale has been featured on
CNN news because of the child and parent seminars that
they are offering based on Narnia. However this is
another example of the disparity between film critics and the
ticket buying public, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
failed be be nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

The great sin of Hollywood is that movie producers
provide many bad movies for a long period of time and
then have good movies compete against one another
during Christmas time. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The
Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," re interpets a
magical world that we visited last month in "Harry
Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Hopefully the ticket
buyer will not suffer from magical mystery jet lag
from visiting these fairylands because each movie is
a good flick with strong narratives, interesting
characters and well done visuals. Quite easily, both
J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis wrote books that created
two of the best movies of 2005.

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