Religion in 'Narnia' Left Up to Audience; Christian Aspect Is Downplayed

Article excerpt

Byline: Julia Duin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Key players are downplaying the Christian aspects of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" less than two weeks before the opening of the expected blockbuster movie.

Douglas Gresham, stepson of the late C.S. Lewis - the Oxford professor who authored the top-rated children's book - called the religious emphasis "an American disease."

"The Brits don't give two figs about that aspect," Mr. Gresham said in an interview from his home near Dublin.

Even the film's resurrection theme does not mean it's a Christian story, he added.

"That idea is informed by the religious training of those reading it," Mr. Gresham said. "The myth of a god who dies and comes back is in ancient Roman, Norse and Hindu mythology. The difference is that the Christian myth actually happened."

The British press also has picked up on a disconnect between the film's Christian nature and those most involved with it. Director Andrew Adamson, the New Zealand-born son of missionaries who grew up in Papua, New Guinea, told the British Broadcasting Corp. that the film's overtly Christian themes are "open to the audience to interpret."

Lead actress Tilda Swinton, who plays the White Witch, archenemy of the Christlike lion, Aslan, said of the film's overtly Christian symbolism: "Faith is in the eye of the beholder."

"You can make a religious allegory out of anything if that's what you're interested in," she said.

Walt Disney Pictures, which co-produced the film with Walden Media, has been marketing the film aggressively to churches while Dennis Rice, its vice president for publicity, has said in interviews that the production is not "a religious movie. …