C.S. Lewis and … Enid Blyton?

I grew up reading the works of C.S. Lewis, including The Chronicles of Narnia, and I grew up reading the Famous Five and Secret Seven stories and others written by Enid Blyton, too — but I never thought to connect the two authors, until today.

Today, I read two early reviews of the upcoming Narnia movie, both of which refer to Blyton or her works, but in rather different ways. First, there is The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw:

There will be many adults like me, who after loving the book as children went through a long post-adolescent phase of hysterically repudiating it after the Christian-humanist parable was explained. For me, it is a phase that this movie has definitively brought to an end. Adamson brings out the story’s romantic gallantry and its wonderfully generous approach to childhood. For all the rhapsodic seriousness, and Blakean associations of England with Christianity, the film has a lightness of touch.

Simply by having human beings as characters, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is different from Tolkien and his heavy-footed myth – though, naturally, there is a connection, and Adamson sensibly builds on Peter Jackson’s technical achievements in staging and narrative. What the director has done is bring it closer to the playful gravity of Lewis Carroll, and also the insouciant escapades of the young quartet in Enid Blyton’s Adventure series.

Then, there is the New Zealand Herald‘s Russell Baillie:

There are moments in this much-anticipated spirited and engaging fantasy flick of strong local ties, when you know that C. S. Lewis has stepped aside for the guy who brought Shrek to the big screen.

One such moment involves a very well-spoken horse named Phillip. The eloquent equine delivers the sort of one-liner you won’t find much in Lewis’ beloved quaintly English books.

And in that quip and many other it shows that New Zealand animator-turned-director Andrew Adamson and team realised that, beloved book or not, the material required leavening.

Otherwise, even with all those special effects, bringing Narnia and its talking creatures to life would have played as archaic as a Famous Five adventure.

Got that? According to one critic, the Narnia movie improves on Lewis’s book by bringing it closer in spirit to the works of Blyton; and according to the other, the Narnia movie improves on Lewis’s book by distancing it in spirit from the works of Blyton.

FWIW, my own review will be up later this week, after I have had a chance to see the film a second time. ‘Til then, mum’s the word.

Canadian box-office stats — December 4

Here are the figures for the past weekend, arranged from those that owe the highest percentage of their take to the Canadian box office to those that owe the lowest.

Maurice Richard — CDN $1,002,404 — N.AM $1,002,404 — 100%
Derailed — CDN $3,854,297 — N.AM $32,829,000 — 11.7%
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire — CDN $25,568,160 — N.AM $229,839,000 — 11.1%

Pride & Prejudice — CDN $2,071,525 — N.AM $22,633,000 — 9.2%
Just Friends — CDN $1,833,452 — N.AM $21,108,000 — 8.7%
Walk the Line — CDN $5,009,823 — N.AM $68,766,000 — 7.3%
Aeon Flux — CDN $929,550 — N.AM $13,100,000 — 7.1%
Chicken Little — CDN $8,321,846 — N.AM $124,224,000 — 6.7%
Rent — CDN $1,470,718 — N.AM $23,902,000 — 6.2%
Yours, Mine & Ours — CDN $1,548,616 — N.AM $34,565,000 — 4.5%

A couple of discrepancies: Maurice Richard was #8 on the Canadian chart (it hasn’t turned up on the North American chart at all, yet), while In the Mix was #10 on the North American chart.

“Narnia the flamethrower — the kids love this one!”

Just a few quick thoughts about the marketing of the new Narnia movie.

1. I saw an ad in the newspaper yesterday, letting people know that they can buy advance tickets to The Chronicles of Narnia and King Kong, both of which open in the next ten days. The ad had a picture of Aslan, the lion, next to a picture of Kong, the gorilla. And I suddenly realized that, just as The Lord of the Rings invited comedians and TV shows like Saturday Night Live to make all sorts of jokes and pop-culture references about Gollum and Frodo and Gandalf and so on, so too we might end up seeing, e.g., skits and editorial cartoons in which Aslan and Kong duke it out for box-office supremacy. And I wondered if Christians were ready to see Aslan become just another pop-culture figure. And, assuming some of them aren’t, I wondered if there might be something almost idolatrous — Aslanolatrous? — about this. Just a thought.

2. Last night, I went to the local Chapters and discovered that a whole slew of movie tie-in books have already been released — including a children’s novelization of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which includes descriptions of scenes from the film that are not in C.S. Lewis’s original book. As my friend and colleague Steven D. Greydanus has pointed out, it kind of makes you wonder why there has been so much talk about the movie being so “faithful” to Lewis’s book; and it also makes you wonder why Walden Media, a firm that specializes in films based on books with “educational” value, is authorizing dumbed-down versions of Lewis’s original story that will essentially be competing with it for the book-buyer’s dollars. I mean, really, did anyone publish novelizations of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies?

3. I’m still getting used to the fact that the first song that plays over the closing credits is sung by Alanis Morissette.

DEC 5 UPDATE: Re: my second point, Jeffrey Overstreet sums it up well: “It’s faithful to the book. But we’ve published our own alternative version of the novel, to reflect all of our changes.”

Aeon Flux — the review’s up!

My review of Aeon Flux is now up at CT Movies.

FWIW, this film wasn’t screened for critics in advance, unless you count the screening that began last night some time after 10pm — so as you can imagine, this review was written in a rush.

Emily Rose — the final article’s up!

Over a month ago — on Halloween, in fact — I said that I had one more article on The Exorcism of Emily Rose in the pipeline. Today, it was finally posted to Christianity Today‘s website. This piece was written for the magazine, so it borrows heavily from my earlier online-only coverage of the film for CT Movies.

Schmaltz sells — the article’s up!

My article on religion and spirituality at the movies — with the upcoming Narnia movie as my obvious hook — is now up at The Georgia Straight. (My byline seems to be missing, though; so is the quotation mark at the end of the last paragraph.)


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