NARNIA: More Than Lip Service

NARNIA: More Than Lip Service January 7, 2006

SHORT GUSH: Awesome. Go see it. Way cool. Obviously Christian.

LONGER GUSH: Just in case you’ve not seen this CS Lewis classic now updated for the big screen, by all means don’t take my word for it. I never go to the movies! Well, almost never; yesterday, I did. My oldest daughter came in after breakfast and said: “Take me to see Narnia!” I was immediately put under her spell and googled the participating theatres. We ended up at the Alamo which serves food and beverages at your seat during the flick. As an aside, we arrived after the lights had been dimmed and the previews were running. In other words, I couldn’t see. When the waiter came by I asked if he had a flashlight. He said, “No, but I have my cell phone.” “Fine,” I said, “give it to me so I can see the menu.” After using the light of his cell for a sec I said, “Oh here, I’ve got my own.” Funny, I saw others doing this and, slow that I am, I realized this must be a regular occurrence among those who get out more.

I love CS Lewis. But, though I read some fiction (Screwtape Letters), I never read his fantasy stories. Don’t misunderstand, I tried! I just never got into it. (No, I didn’t read Tolkien either.) I was satisfied enough with Mere Christianity, The Four Loves, The Great Divorce, and various anthologies to appreciate the man and his witness. A year or so ago I bought Till We Have Faces only to put it away after a few days’ frustration of forcing interest. I know that some readers will think me a poor specimen. But, I have discovered there are others like me. You are not alone! And to those few I say: “Go to the movies! Hooray! You can do it!”

PETTY THOUGHTS: Lips. You know how Liv Tyler, Angelina Jolie, and especially Scarlett Johansson have those perpetually puckered lips — always slightly open with a hint of teefers showing? Perhaps it’s just me, but the camera’s constant focus on the two young girls’ puffy lips — even Peter’s — became an early distraction. At first I thought, “That’s just the way they look.” But I know that all scenes are shot for the desired effect and, in that light I thought, “Enough with the lip-thing already!” Once the action scenes took over I got past the puckers.

I’d read one blogger, I forget whom, that had not read the book. His advice was to not struggle to find constant meaning, deciphering allegory and such, but just sit back and watch the movie. Not wanting to be disappointed, I followed this caveat. At least, I tried. Impossible! This movie contains the most overtly Christian message I can recall. Then again, as I’ve already mentioned, I don’t get out much.

The costumes, characters, and effects serve as glorious eye candy. (Notice, no mention of lips there. In fact, I had a hamburger.) And I actually wiped away tears a couple times.

Okay, let me explain. I cry at movies. Think what you will. You put Mr Holland’s Opus on and I can actually lose weight! With Narnia, most tears were coughed up during touching scenes in unexpected places — let’s just say I was “surprised by joy.” I became a kid again. It may have helped that I was with an eleven-year old girl. It might have been different if I’d gone with a bunch of brutes. But I’ve never done that, even when I did get out more. Yes, I saw the first Lord of the Rings, twice, on the big screen. But the closest thing to the Narnia experience for me was E.T. When Spielberg’s blockbuster appeared, I was living near Los Angeles. I went, alone, to the Cinerama which is a huge round theatre in Hollywood. It had a gigantic wrap-around screen and sense-around sound that literally made your body shiver. It was the movie in front of me, though, that moved me. Wanting to share the experience with my friends, I think I saw the flick five times on the big screen. Heck, I would have made a friend just to take ’em. (Okay, so I even took a brute or two.)

Were I a younger man, who wanted to get out more, I’d be back at Narnia today. Instead, I’m sending my wife and my boy. At the moment, time will tell, I’m more excited than they are.

I take back what I said in the beginning: Do take my word for it, Go.

I have no idea if it is faithful to Jack’s book. It’s faith-filled, this I know.

I may just go again.

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