Friday, December 09, 2005

Chroncles of Narnia, Episode IV: A New Hope

In preparation for the holiday movie viewing, I started re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia. I didn't know this as a kid, but the books were written out of order- that is, Lion/Witch/Etc was written first, and then after that Clive Staples Lewis wrote the creation myth for Narnia, The Magician's Nephew - incidentally the creation myth for the actual Wardrobe in question as well.

Finishing that first book reminded me (sadly) of several moments watching Star Wars after having seen Revenge of the Sith - lines that were throw-away before suddenly had at least a little more resonance. Anyway, I got quite a kick out of the situation both Lucas and Lewis were in; the unexpected success of their pet project ended up putting a lot more focus on the work than they had anticipated, and there were some things they didn't do right the first time. So you write a bunch more stuff to explain away the things that bugged you about the successful piece. Lewis published The Lion, The 1950;Prince Caspian in 1951 (episode 3), Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 1952 (episode 4), The Silver Chair in 1953 (episode 6), The Horse and His Boy in '54 (episode 2), The Magician's Nephew in '55 (prelude), and The Last Battle in '56. It makes Lucas' 29 year cycle seem pretty slack.

Re-reading this stuff also explains why right wing Christians tend to go nuts about Harry Potter....before that, the fantasy world had a pretty dominant, Christian myth to feed the youngsters. It's kind of nuts actually - there's original sin in Narnia by page 79 - Aslan, the Lion: "You see, friends" he said, "that before the clean, new world I gave you is seven hours old, a force of evil has already entered into it; waked and brought hither by this son of Adam".

In spite of those overtones, it's very funny in many places, and definitely holds a few chuckles for the grownups. At one point in the Magician's Nephew, the speaking animals decide to call the old man/Magician "Brandy" as that's the only word he keeps repeating...

The film of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opens today; I thought I had a couple more weeks. Luckily these books are written for like, fourth graders, so they go by pretty quick. I'm fairly sure my outlook wasn't unduly influenced by swallowing 800 pages of Christian Fantasy writing whole as a child, and I'm looking forward to the film, 'cause I like spectacle movies and this promises such in spades.

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