C.S. Lewis--Uniter, Not Divider

Perhaps C.S. Lewis will be a uniter, not a divider after all. Salom.com has a lovely review of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Stephanie Zacharek compares the film to a comfy old sweater, and urges readers to 'forget the scary hype."
Here's her lead:

| There's something a little ragged around the edges of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe": It has a vaguely faded, not-quite-new feel to it, like a hand-me-down book from a past generation, with cover wear and smudged pages and a wiggly spine -- all the things used-book dealers sniff at but which, to readers, are simply a book's way of wearing the love that's been lavished on it.

And that's exactly what makes this adaptation of C.S. Lewis' much-loved 1950 novel so wonderful. There's nothing too clean or too overbright about it. It's magic, but not the loud, shiny kind: It has the texture of worn velvet, or a painstakingly hand-knit sweater stored away for years in tissue paper.

A couple other highlights:

  • There are obviously many reasons why C.S. Lewis' Narnia series -- of which "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is the first installment -- have been captivating readers for so long. But I think one reason people respond to the Lewis books -- a reason that's ably served by this adaptation -- is that even though they take place in a fanciful universe, they show respect for kids' integrity and intelligence, instead of just treating children as charming but woefully undereducated beings.

  • But it's Lucy who's the soul of the movie, not because, as the youngest child, she's the most innocent character, but because she's the most heart-wrenchingly open.

  • the most "Jesusy" section of "Narnia" is one that's played so powerfully -- it's moving and staggering at once -- that it can be read on any number of levels. I think, more than anything else, it speaks to our capacity for compassion, and if that's not nondenominational, I don't know what is. If certain religious groups want to lay claim to compassion as a brand, that's their business. But it shouldn't interfere with anyone's pleasure in "Narnia," or, for that matter, in C.S. Lewis' books.

Sound like we've got a winner. My favorite line is this: "there's so much pleasure to be had in the look of "Narnia" that the experience feels somewhat decadent, anyway."

If you want to know what makes C.S. Lewis a genius consider this--in about 150 pages, he created an entire world--one as captivating today as it was 50 years ago. A world that Christians and non Christians, left winger and rightwingers (and us remainng few moderates) can all call our own.

That's a miracle, if you ask me.


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