Tilda Swinton tells Christians they’re “welcome” to Narnia and what it means. And what does it mean?
That good and evil should exist together in balance.
That righteousness is a dangerous idea.
That the White Witch isn’t a threat to Narnia… she is Narnia.
And that the story is about the children finding strength in themselves, not in God.
Further, she’s apparently unsure whether there is evil in the world.
“The Christians are welcome,” [Swinton] says, with composed irony. “As everyone is welcome. Honestly, the connection had to be explained to me. And the more I got to know about Lewis … I know he was a very devout Christian and that he was capable of writing, as he did his entire life, very obviously Christian tracts. This is not one of them.”
Narnia is undoubtedly spiritual, she says, but its world derives from myths and legends that prefigure the religion of tracts. “In fact, if anything – and I cannot believe I am going to say this – I think it is almost anti-religious,” she says.
“What I mean by that is that it’s about children learning to draw not on any kind of dogma or doctrine but on their own resources, outside of the box. Outside their family, outside parental guidance, outside anything. The thing about Narnia is that it takes you to the heart of yourself, your own conscience and your own experience, and so I think it is so much wider than any religion could be, actually.”
If there is evil in the world, she thinks it lies in the lack of doubt. “The incapacity to be compassionate, to be humane and changeable. I am very intrigued by the idea of the righteous. I am suspicious of it, being human. I think that human nature is so much more interesting than that; doubtlessness is not helpful to human beings. So to start the year as the Angel Gabriel in Constantine – and that is the film for the Christians, by the way, not this one – and finish it with the White Witch is a sort of little meditation for me on that idea.”
I mean, what was wrong with me? I thought the White Witch was the villain of the piece, the one Aslan needed to overcome. But Swinton sets me straight.
“The Witch is a force of evil and Aslan is a force of good and they are absolutely in balance one with the other. I am Narnia, in a way … One of the things I enjoyed developing was the costume, because I was determined that her costume should not look as if it had been made. That it should look like Narnia, that her dress be the side of a hill or her crown should be made of ice.”
Anybody else want to insist the film is faithful to the book, with its Aslan and its witch “in balance with one another”?