Thursday, December 01, 2005

Too Much Narnia?

Image hosted by Photobucket.comI have read through the Chronicles of Narnia three times and the well-worn first volume more often than that! Every time I have been enchanted and charmed by the vivid themes and imagery or this C.S. Lewis classic.

As a Christian I have also enjoyed the many Christian themes of sin, evil, goodness, beauty, courage, sacrifice, atonement, resurrection, redemption, salvation, pilgrimage, and even the creation of a new heaven and a new earth that Lewis has so deftly and creatively woven into the stories of Narnia.

With my now-grown children my wife and I watched and were wondrously impressed with the imaginative and faithful translation of these books into visual reality by means of the creative genius of WonderWorks, which produced the first three books as a BBC mini-series back in the late 1980s.

On December 9 the new movie, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," will be released by Disney. I trust that this version will also be true to the original. If it is it will be a wonderful addition to the legacy of C.S. Lewis and Narnia.

Unfortunately, along with a major movie release comes all the commercial tie-ins that will make a lot of money but will, ultimately, also have the potential to cheapen the substance and compromise the character of the movie and the book that inspired it.

Consider this list of Narnia-related products being sold at Christian Book Distributors:

-The WonderWorks Chronicles of Narnia DVD Set;
-The World of Narnia Collection (children's illustratedabridgmentt);
-The Chronicles of Narnia CDs (a British-made audio set complete with Sir Anthony Quail, Claire Bloom, Michael York and Ian Richardson);
-The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, by Alan Jacobs;
-The Chronicles of Narnia, 7 volume set (both a movie tie-in set with photos from the new movie and a set without the tie-in);
-a One-Volume edition of the entire Chronicles of Narnia;

-The Official Illustrated Movie Companion (for The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe);
-Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;
-Knowing Aslan (an evangelism booklet to help interpret the movie to non-Christians);
-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--2006 Wall Calendar;
-The Chronicles of Narnia, Limited Edition: Focus on the Family Radio Theatre--CDs;
-The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe Board Game;
-Stratego, Chronicles of Narnia Edition;
-The Chronicles of Narnia Activity Books (for children ages 4-8);
-Music Inspired by The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe--CD;
-The Chronicles of Narnia soundtrack;
-Narnia Book Covers, including: "Long Live the True King," "Aslan Duotone Bible Cover," "Narnia Map Bible Cover," and the "Narnia Bible Cover."

I can't wait to see the Chronicles of Narnia action figures in stores just in time for Christmas (Am I joking? Nope! Check out the photo at the top of this post. It is linked to

I do know that the heirs and Estate of C.S. Lewis put many restrictions on the marketing of the movie and related capitalist product spin-offs. But from what I am seeing in catalogues it appears that there are plenty of Narnia products for consumers to choose from.

My prayer is that the movie will lead even more people to read these wonderful books than have done so previously. No matter how good the movie is, it will never replace the books.
In the recent Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the movie was remarkably faithful but still had to omit many of the most lyric, mythological and transcendent passages for the sake of keeping the action moving. While these movies were an excellent production worthy of the praise they received, they in no way can ever replace the written words of J.R.R. Tolkien as they appear in the books themselves.

My nightmare is that the commercialization of Narnia will relegate it to the status of Winnie the Pooh, which, in the hands of Disney, has become almost a parody of itself and the Milne books that originally brought him to life.

Narnia deserves better. By God's grace we will never see a Saturday morning "Narnia" cartoon program on TV.

I'll see you at the movie.