Humanity Found in 'Narnia' ; "The Chronicles of Narnia" Is about Spiritual Redemption - and Redeems Children's Films

Article excerpt

In a recently discovered note by C.S. Lewis, from 1959, he wrote: "Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery and nightmare."

Which is exactly what doesn't happen in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" - at least not the buffoonery part. (Despite the film's PG rating, the mayhem is probably too intense for small children.) Andrew Adamson, the director of the two "Shrek" films, has done a highly creditable job of visualizing the first of Lewis's seven books about four children in the mythical land of Narnia where the animals do, indeed, talk.

The film, which is much closer in look to the book's original illustrations by Pauline Baynes than might have been predicted, works surprisingly well both as a boisterous fantasia and as the Christian fable that Lewis intended. (The film's prologue in blitzed London is the only serious departure from Lewis's text.) Having dutifully made my way through "The Matrix" movies, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and the "Harry Potter" series, I wasn't sure I was up for another full-scale franchise. But "Chronicles of Narnia" is no machine-tooled commercial enterprise. Beneath all the special effects (many of which are actually special) you can detect something recognizably, and cherishably, human.

One of the reasons why children's films are rightly held in such disrepute these days is because they don't look as if they were made by people who were ever children themselves. …