Friday, December 30, 2005

C. S. Lewis -- Two Words

I have just posted to my church's Theological Discussion blog, The Thinklings. I muse about my irritation with C. S. Lewis' The Great Divorce -- which is a treatise on heaven and hell. It seems appropriate to spend a little time getting acquainted with the Oxbridge don, given the hype over the new Narnia movie. But I must confess that Lewis has been unable to capture my interest in the past, and he continues to leave me cold. You might check out my comments there, so that I don't have to repeat them here.

On the other hand, I have just seen the Narnia move, and I heartily recommend it. I was not expecting to enjoy it very much, but when the family all want to see one movie, we GO. I didn't particularly enjoy The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a book: I thought it was too ham-handed and allegorical for me. And I thought the tone was a little off -- sort of a stuffy, rather humorless great-uncle guiding one's thoughts. (I know that Lewis enjoyed jokes, cigars, and beer. But I don't pick that up in The Narnia Chronicles.)

In any event, the movie inflicted none of the irritations that book did. First, it is a beautiful movie to watch. (It also made me thirst for a trip back to England.) The cinematography was delightful -- frozen Narnia was gorgeously cold. Second, the acting was excellent. Even though Lucy was in her first movie (I think she's 8), she was believable and captivating. The other "children" (I suppose we'll learn that Peter is 40 or something) were true to their characters and believable in their responses -- and they all looked related. Of course, Tilda Swinton is phenomenal (I'll accept a ride from her in her sleigh any day!) as the White Witch -- cunning, charming, and e-v-i-l! Third, the special effects are wonderful and do not seem like special effects. I was stunned, for example, to learn that all of the lion was digital. I was convinced that they had filmed a lion and then over-written when he talks. And the battle sequences were quite chilling. Fourth, I enjoyed the theology around Aslan's death: It wasn't straight "buying-God-off" Anselmian doctrine. I haven't quite worked out what it is (it's probably pretty straightforward, but I keep dredging up concerns from other Lewis material and it confuses me, frankly). But it's an interesting take on things salvational.

Today the ballots go out for nominations for Oscars, so it is appropriate to discuss movies. I have no sense whether Narnia will figure into the calculations. But I know that I have my own favorites that I'm figuratively lighting candles for! (HINT FYI: I'm hoping for nominations for Tilda Swinton for Narnia and Catherine Keener for playing Harper Lee, author of my favorite American novel, in Capote.)

I wish you the very best in 2006, with eagerness for the festivities of the Theophany next week.


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