Out of the Closet

Columbus Alive | December 8, 2005
It's an interesting irony of based-on-a-book moviemaking that it takes such astronomical amounts of money to conjure fantasy images that the audience can imagine for free when simply reading the source material.

For The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (which beats out even the last Tomb Raider for longest movie title), it was about a $180 million investment, and it probably could have benefited from a few million more. While the special effects are strong, they never quite stop feeling like special effects and simply blend in, as those in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings did.

The Rings trilogy's recent success (as well as that of the Harry Potter franchise) is the obvious inspiration for finally putting the first of author C.S. Lewis' seven Chronicles on the silver screen. Director Andrew Adamson (co-director of the Shrek movies) similarly looks to Jackson's films for inspiration, going so far as to swipe several shots from them.

In the source material, Lewis was always much less stingy in rolling out a mythological menagerie than J.R.R. Tolkien, with the denizens of fairytales, Greek myth, animal fables and even Santa Claus all living side by side in Narnia. In Tolkien's Middle Earth, a non-humanoid creature occurs in a set piece; in Narnia, they occur constantly. But as good as computer-generated imagery has gotten (this film would have been impossible a decade ago), there's still no way to make CGI animals talk in a convincing manner.

Still, Adamson and his production staff have done a remarkable job of adaptation, juggling scenes slightly to make them better fit the flow of a film but doing little to no damage to the original narrative. It remains a compelling story about the magic of belief and an exploration of Christian values dressed up in sexy pagan clothing.

If you missed the book or the previous British television adaptations (live action in 1967 and '88, poorly animated in '79), it's the story of four siblings who stumble through a magical wardrobe into a land ruled by absent god lion Aslan but currently under the icy thumb of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). The children must choose sides and win a battle to set the world right.

That's one Narnia adaptation down, six to go.

Columbus Alive

Founded in 1983, Alive is the Capital City's oldest and only independent alternative and is known for providing a forum for the area's free thinkers. The paper's spirited and original perspective on music, arts and culture distinguish it from the...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 62 E. Broad St., Columbus, OH 43215
  • Phone: (614) 221-2449