BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
Tilda Swinton and Skandar Keynes in The Chronicles ofNarnia (©2005Disney Enterprises Inc.)
Playing hide-and-seek in an old wardrobe, four young siblingstumble into an unexpected kingdom cursed with 100 years of winter by a WhiteWitch. The four children are drawn into high adventure where they are calledupon to rescue the fallen realm of Narnia from its powerful adversary—playedbrilliantly by the icy Tilda Swinton. Their allies are a myriad of talkingcreatures, including the iconic lion named Aslan, voiced by Liam Neeson.
Based on the beloved 1950 publication, this tale is the first of C.S.Lewis’s magical series of seven Chroniclesof Narnia that tallies100 million copies worldwide, and which J.K. Rowling names as one of theinspirations for her Harry Potter series. As devoted to Christianityas he was to fables, Lewis in Chronicles of Narnia capturesthemes from the New Testament along with the compelling good-versus-evilrudiments of an epic myth. And although he wrote the series for children,Lewis lives up to his own mandate: “If a book is worth reading whenyou’re5, it is still equally worth reading when you’re 50.”
Whether you have read the book or not, and whether you’re 5 or 50,you will find the movie well done. Where the filmmakers succeed in spadesis in combining feature film and real actors with CGI talking animals,which, I swear, seem so normal that when you get home you will wonder whyyour dog isn’t speaking to you. This is a big digital bravo.
Where the film falls a tad short is in the casting of the children—alittle weak but not a deal-breaker. But maybe that’s just me.
As the first big-screen adaptation of this powerful classic (previousversions were made for television), this imaginative story has somethingto say about having faith and also about making mistakes. Whether it getsyou pumped about the codes of Christianity is up to you. This film willentertain moviegoers of all persuasions and ages—and I haven’tpracticed childhood in decades.