For all their talk of staying true to the spirit of C. S. Lewis’s novels, the makers of the Narnia films have frequently deviated from the books in ways both big and small, and the liberties they take with Prince Caspian — which echo but go far, far beyond the liberties they took with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — both help the film and hurt it. They help because you can sense that co-writer and director Andrew Adamson is finally making the big epic fantasy battle movie that he really wanted to make the first time around, and his devotion to that vision holds Prince Caspian together and makes it a more consistent, and consistently entertaining, sort of film than Wardrobe was. But in steering the film closer to his own vision, Adamson steers it away from Lewis’s, and so it loses some of the book’s core spiritual themes.
THE LION, the Witch and the Wardrobe is about four children who discover a magical country while staying in a professor’s house, far from their home, during World War II. They enter this country, called Narnia, through a secret portal in the back of a giant closet. And once they get there, they discover that their arrival is the fulfillment of an old prophecy.
Narnia, the Pevensie children learn, has been shrouded in snow and ice for a full century; it is a land where it is always winter but never Christmas, thanks to an evil would-be queen called the White Witch. But it is prophesied that, one day, two boys and two girls will come to Narnia and take their place as the rightful kings and queens of that land.
Do the children ever raise any objections to this news? Does one of them ever stop to say, “Hold on a minute, what if we don’t want to fulfill somebody else’s prophecy?”
At last, in less than two weeks, The Chronicles of Narnia will appear on the big screen for the first time ever. However, this much-hyped movie does not quite mark the first time that cameras have rolled on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The book, first published in 1950, has been dramatized at least three times before — but always for television.
• John Killinger: God, the Devil & Harry Potter, St. Martin’s, 2002.
• Connie Neal: The Gospel According to Harry Potter, Westminster John Knox, 2002.
• John Granger: The Hidden Key to Harry Potter, Zossima, 2002.
CHRISTIAN Harry Potter fans, unite!
It has been over two years since Richard Abanes wrote Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menace behind the Magick, a scathing critique of just about everything to do with J.K. Rowling’s bestselling series about an orphaned English boy who goes to a boarding school for witches and wizards.
Since then, no one has really added to Abanes’s criticisms, but quite a few Christians have lined up to defend Rowling and her books against the accusation that they are simply trying to warm children up to the sort of real-life occultic practices that are forbidden in the Bible.
YEARS AGO, as a teen, I heard a man at a church speak on the evils of popular culture. I expected him to rail against the usual suspects — rock and roll, Star Wars, Disney cartoons with grey-bearded magicians in pointed hats — but I was entirely unprepared for when he turned his attention to My Little Pony. Some of these seemingly innocuous toys, he noted, had wings or horns, like the unicorns and flying steeds of Greek myth, and this, he said, was not good. “There’s nothing wrong with ponies,” he said with utter conviction. “God made ponies. But God didn’t make little unicorns.”