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04 January 2006

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Georgie Henley (Lucy), Skandar Keynes (Edmund), William Moseley (Peter), Anna Popplewell (Susan), and Tilda Swinton (the White Witch)

Directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek)

From (kinda) IMDB: "Four children are evacuated from London to a professor's country home during World War II. There, they find a magic wardrobe that leads to a land called Narnia, which is ruled by an evil witch. To defeat the witch, they must work together and join forces with Aslan the Lion."

Keven and I went to see this as the first part of our Muskegon double-feature when we went to visit Karen and Art, just after Christmas. Keven altered the film for me in a dramatic fashion by mentioning, within the first few minutes, that little Georgie Henley looks like a seven-year-old version of our daughter Ilsa. So for the remainder of the film, the narrative was clouded by two issues: I cried whenever Lucy cried, and I was constantly looking at her face. Sure enough, there appeared a strong resemblance (except for the nose). I also cried during the opening scenes of bombs dropping over London, for all of those terrified mothers and their children huddled into Anderson shelters and praying for an unheard-of string of miracles: that their homes, lives, and the lives of their absent fathers and husbands would all be spared.

But enough of my overly-sensitive mother impulses adding depth where there might not have been. The film was highly entertaining and very closely aligned to the novel, except for a few places where scenes were shortened and repetitions eliminated in order to speed the action. Tilda Swinton was wonderfully dramatic and haughty, and I found myself wondering if she has ever needed to learn swordplay for a film before this one - and hoping that she would wipe the Vaseline off of her eyelids (a make-up trick intended to make her look icy). Liam Neeson was a wonderfully warm voice for Aslan, but I still was very aware of the fact that Aslan was CGI. No matter the advances that have been made in the technology, there remains a distinct and distracting difference between physical and computer- generated images.

The film is a fantastic one for families with children about eight years old and up. Some of the scenes of Aslan's sacrifice and close-ups of the White Witch's nasty cohorts were too intense for younger viewers. As it was, I was upset by the theater's decision to show a trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, a "Not Yet Rated" film that should eventually be rated PG-13 like its predecessor. It featured a number of grisly dead-thing images which would have terrified my brother well into adulthood. However, Narnia proved especially reassuring to me because I plan to share the books (and the message of sibling cooperation, love and tolerance) with my girls. The relationships between the brothers and sisters were especially compelling and served as the foundation for the entire movie.

Oh, and grown-up Edmund was jarringly handsome. Who is Mark Wells, anyway?

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