Narnia is coming back to the big screen. Deadline reports that TriStar Pictures is teaming up with Entertainment One (aka eOne) to produce and distribute The Silver Chair, an adaptation of the fourth book in the Chronicles of Narnia series.
Is Heaven Is for Real a “Christian movie”?
The question may seem like a no-brainer, since the film is based on a best-selling Christian book and there has been a lot of talk in the media about the Christian faith of writer-director Randall Wallace and some of the film’s producers, including megachurch leader T.D. Jakes and studio executive DeVon Franklin.
But the film is still a product of corporate Hollywood, and as such, it alters the story in ways that are designed to appeal to a mass audience. The film thus lacks the authenticity of independent Christian films like, say, God’s Not Dead.
The first Narnia film was a massive hit five years ago; but the second film, Prince Caspian, made only half as much money at the box office when it opened three summers ago, and now it looks like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will make only about half of that. In truth, it’s not doing much better than The Golden Compass did at this time of year three years ago.
That’s a shame, because Dawn Treader is a pretty decent family film on its own terms. It’s not a particularly faithful adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ original novel, true; but it retains enough of the key themes, and it has a storybook quality that sets it apart from the first two films. It also features one of the most unlikely but appealing friendships ever.
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 story begins with a girl hiding in a wardrobe. It continues with a series of adventures in which the girl passes through gateways into other worlds, meeting witches, figures from ancient mythology, and talking animals along the way. Ultimately, it takes her into the afterlife and to an apocalyptic battle between supernatural powers.
Philip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials, has some striking parallels to C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. Between protective beasts, snowy landscapes, and references to a prophecy only the girl may be able to fulfill, the ads for The Golden Compass — the first installment of Pullman’s series coming to the big screen on December 7 — look made to attract fans of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. New Line Cinema has also gone out of its way to link the new film to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, which the studio also adapted.