Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe, the Controversy

When I was a kid, I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, along with a couple of other Narnia books. I enjoyed them, but not enough to get through the entire series. At no time did I feel that I was being preached to or that there were deeper meanings lurking between the lines. I went on to live a happy cynical life, with the only lasting influence of Lewis's works being two tunes in my CD collection (Steve Hackett's "Narnia" and echolyn's "My Dear Wormwood," if you're keeping track at home).

I guess that's why I'm so surprised about the holy war that's developing over the Disney movie version of Wardrobe. On the one hand, you have the evangelical crowd that are looking to use the film as a conversion tool. On the other, you have more secular folks who just want to enjoy the story and not have a particular interpretation shoved down their throats. I somewhat blame Disney itself, as it wants to tap into the mainstream Lord of the Rings crowd while also looking to cash in on the religious Passion of the Christ crowd. In doing so, they've niche marketed so intently to set up this clash of focus groups.

Nonetheless, the whole thing has produced some interesting writing. First up we have this piece by Polly Tonybee in UK's The Guardian attacking Lewis's series not just for being Christian allegory, but being bad Christian allegory. Then there's this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education by Michael Nelson (fresh from the Satellite of Love, no doubt) taking on some other criticisms of the Narnia books. Finally, there's this New York Times column that makes, I think, the most sensible point: read the books and see the movie(s) for yourself and make up your own mind.

Hat tip to Prawfsblawg for the Guardian and Chronicle links.

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