He’s Not a Tame Lion

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the British children’s fantasy adventure everyone forgot was amazing. The Lord of the Rings trilogy blew everyone away with its dedication to bringing the world of Middle-earth to life. The Harry Potter franchise continued to press on with each adaptation of the Wizarding World. Fantasy book adaptations were all the rage in the 2000’s. So it was only a matter of time before the beloved best-selling 1950-1956 The Chronicles of Narnia series was brought to life. Created by C. S. Lewis after he envisioned a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. Lewis’ friendship with equally famous author J.R.R. Tolkien helped get him saved and influence the strong Christian themes of his work.

Along with the always inviting fantasy element, refreshing Christian parallels are a big reason why I was a fan growing up. My mother and father grew up with the books and were excited to see a big screen adaptation. At 10 years old, it was a real treat seeing it with my family in the theater. After dated BBC films, none other than Walt Disney Pictures stepped in to give Narnia the respect it deserved. Along with the unlikely director choice of Shrek & Shrek 2 director Andrew Adamson. The cast of both big names & unknowns was stellar, the effects & makeup were top notch, and the score was perfectly enchanting. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was so big that it became a high-grossing phenomenon that should’ve been maintained throughout the series…

1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Aslan marches forward with the Pevensie children

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is in truth the best novel in the series. My dad got the complete Chronicles of Narnia collection once, but I still haven’t read them. I only know that The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the one they really needed to get right. Though technically the first book written/published by C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew is chronologically first. The rest of the series is just as mixed up. The Chronicles of Narnia is perfectly British with a period setting. That didn’t stop early 90’s film attempts from either making it American or setting it in modern day. Fortunately the aforementioned fantasy films of the 2000’s ensured a faithful retelling. Thankfully that meant Disney kept the story as Christian as Lewis intended. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe doesn’t begin in fantasy, but in the harsh reality of World War II. During the Blitz bombings, the Pevensie children were evacuated to the countryside.

Finding four British children of varying ages was trying, but they eventually ended up with capable young leads. William Moseley is the oldest Peter, known for his expected leadership role. Anna Popplewell is the second oldest Susan, known for taking a logical approach to things. Skandar Keynes is the second youngest Edmund, known for being a bit of a pest. Georgie Henley is the youngest Lucy, known for her innocent imagination. They’re each taken in by the Professor and his strict housekeeper. Lucy happens upon the titular wardrobe in the mansion’s spare oom during a game of hide-and-seek. It’s a truly magical cinematic moment when Lucy enters the wardrobe and finds herself in the wondrous land of Narnia. Unlike Middle-earth, Narnia is a colourful inviting place that can be found with a link from our world. Time also works differently with hours lasting no more than seconds on Earth.

Like Middle-earth, the vast beauty of Narnia was filmed in New Zealand. Though the warmth of the land can’t be found at first. With an eternal winter that’s lasted for 100 years. Lewis’ vision is brought to life when Lucy meets a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels under a lamppost. Tumnus is none other than pre-fame James McAvoy. The makeup used to create him and every other mythical creature residing in Narnia was so good that it won the Academy Award for Best Makeup. Lucy is simply adorable when befriending Mr. Tumnus and their evening is splendid with comforting flute music. Until it’s made clear that Narnia isn’t what it used to be. No one believes Lucy, but Edmund believes after following his sister into the wardrobe. Unfortunately, Edmund’s trip isn’t quite as pleasant. He encounters the titular White Witch. One of the greatest evil movie witches behind only the Wicked Witch. Tilda Swinton is brillant whether she’s comforting or despicable.

Jadis is the one who started the eternal winter and declares herself Queen of Narnia. Using her spear to turn those who oppose her to stone. Like the devil, she tempts Edmund with promises and sweets like Turkish delights. Something I’ve always wanted to try. Edmund tries to hide what he’s learned from his siblings, but the Professor assures them that they should trust Lucy. Jim Broadbent plays the Professor whose much more important in The Magician’s Nephew. An accident forces the Pevensie children into the wardrobe where Peter and Susan finally see Narnia. Tumnus is sadly arrested by the secret police, but fortunately the hospitable Beavers step in to help. Mr. & Mrs. Beaver are two of many talking animals in Narnia. Including Aslan himself. The titular lion creator of Narnia with unmistakable parallels to Jesus Christ. Special effects vary, but Aslan is so magnificently life-like that I still can’t believe he was done in 2005. The Pevensie children learn all about a prophecy that foretells 2 sons of Adam and 2 daughters of Eve restoring order to Narnia. The only problem is Edmund’s betrayal.

The White Witch shows her true colours when he fails to bring his siblings. She sends her vicious talking wolves who hunt down the children and Beavers. A sly fox working for Aslan leads them astray long enough for them to trek through the snow. What they assume is the White Witch’s sleigh chasing them, turns out to be Father Christmas himself. A bit of a shock when I first saw the movie, but Christmas does exist in Narnia. It’s just been 100 years since the last Christmas, Spring, or Summer. Santa comes bearing gifts for the three Pevensie children. Lucy is gifted a cordial that heals any injury and a dagger, Susan is gifted a bow & arrow and horn to summon help, and Peter is gifted a sword & shield. The weakened power of the Witch melts the ice caps where the particularly ruthless wolf Maugrim corners the children. Peter tries to be brave long enough to get them to safety. They finally happen upon Aslan’s camp. It’s a stunning moment to finally behold Aslan in all his glory. Made better by the mighty voice of Liam Neeson. Aslan imparts his wisdom on the children as only he can. Peter uses it to finally be brave enough to slay his foe. They find Edmund whom Aslan absolves of any mistakes he’s made.

As the children train for battle, Aslan proves his word to Jadis by taking Edmund’s place in a deep magic oath that requires the blood of a traitor. SPOILER ALERT! Aslan is knocked down, shaved, and stabbed on a stone table by the White Witch. Even a kid friendly fantasy version of the Crucifixion can elicit strong emotions. Mice free Aslan from his binds and Susan and Lucy stay with the fallen King. Leaving Peter and Edmund to fight in a great battle for Narnia. It’s in the final hour that we really see all the fantastic creatures known in folklore. Along with all sorts of animals, there are heroic centaurs, evil menators, dwarves, giants, fauns, cyclopses, griffins, mermaids, living trees, and some creatures I couldn’t identify. The PG rating isn’t challenged too much as the battle rages on. Meanwhile, Aslan is of course miraculously resurrected long enough to revive all those who were turned to stone (including Mr. Tumnus). With a mighty roar, Alsan brings his reinforcements.

All the while Edmund is wounded destroying the Witch’s spear and Peter faces her in a sword fight. Aslan ends the White Witch once and for all and Lucy heals Edmund. With peace restored, Aslan crowns all four of the heroic Pevensie children Kings and Queens of Narnia. It’s pure child wish fulfilment that ends with the untamed Alsan off to parts unknown. Many years pass with the now grown up rulers spotting a most peculiar lamppost. Their journey truly comes to an end when they return through the wardrobe children once more. The Professor ensures Lucy that they can find Narnia again one day and one final roar from Aslan confirms it. Though not to the same degree as Lord of the Rings, I was nevertheless obsessed with Narnia growing up. Buying a DVD box set and enjoying the Happy Meal toys. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is almost poetic in how we simply need to revisit it to fully appreciate the magic once more.

2. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus

Followed by: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

4 thoughts on “He’s Not a Tame Lion

  1. I tasted Turkish delights for the first time this past Christmas when someone gave me a box.

    Having now tasted them, I can see how Jadis’ temptation worked on Edmund.

    The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is my favourite book in the series as well.

    And the 2004-2005 film really is a forgotten fantasy classic.

    Lord of The Rings and the Harry Potter films continue to be popular but nobody seems to talk much about The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

    And I’ve always found Lewis’ inspiration of a faun carrying an umbrella and wrapped presents through snowy woods to be inspirational.

    That’s often how characters originate in my own mind.

    I see them first.

    Liked by 1 person

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