Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, and the (large piece of furniture in which clothes are stored)

My buddy in London sent me a link to The Guardian's take on the new film on C.S. Lewis' Narnia. OUCH! She'd been telling me how "secular" her adopted hometown has become but I don't think I quite understood. This article makes it a tad bit clearer.

If you don't get a chance to read the article take a look at this excerpt:

Disney may come to regret this alliance with Christians, at least on this side of the Atlantic. For all the enthusiasm of the churches, Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ bombed in Britain and warehouses are stuffed with unsold DVDs of that stomach-churner. There are too few practising Christians in the empty pews of this most secular nation to pack cinemas. So there has been a queasy ambivalence about how to sell the Narnia film here. Its director, Andrew Adamson (of Shrek fame), says the movie's Christian themes are "open to the audience to interpret". One soundtrack album of the film has been released with religious music, the other with secular pop.

Most British children will be utterly clueless about any message beyond the age-old mythic battle between good and evil. Most of the fairy story works as well as any Norse saga, pagan legend or modern fantasy, so only the minority who are familiar with Christian iconography will see Jesus in the lion. After all, 43% of people in Britain in a recent poll couldn't say what Easter celebrated. Among the young - apart from those in faith schools - that number must be considerably higher. Ask art galleries: they now have to write the story of every religious painting on the label as people no longer know what "agony in the garden", "deposition", "transfiguration" or "ascension" mean. This may be regrettable cultural ignorance, but it means Aslan will stay just a lion to most movie-goers.

5 comments:

bigwhitehat said...

I bumped over here to get cheered up. Now I'm even more down in the mouth.

Baby said...

OK, admitting my ignorance here. I know CS Lewis wrote some books on Christianity, but why does this one have to be associated with Christianity? The Christ story existed long before Christ did. Let's take Prometheus Bound as an example - a play written in ancient Greece - if I remember correctly it was like 500BC. Read it sometime. Prometheus is Christ if you look at it from a Christian perspective. The story is about good versus evil if you don't. So? Why does it matter? I don't mean to sound rude - and I think you know that KC (at least I hope so) - I really do want to understand - why is this upsetting? I can see how it is upsetting that children aren't aware of these terms, but to me that has nothing to do with a movie. What am I missing?

KC said...

The part that was the "ouch" for me might not be the same for others but since you asked I'll tell you that the long article unpacks the issue related to what C.S. Lewis was trying to do (and in the article's author's opinion he did well with the story and was too heavy handed in the metaphorical department). Anyway, my ouch was the fact that museums are having to explain Christ-references in art and such a high percentage of folks have no clue as to the Easter connection. My buddies had said that the church had very little influence in England, that it was "secular" and I just didn't have a concrete way of understanding that. This article gave me something that solidiified that term.

muddyfeet said...

Wow.. that's sad.. The part about how the meaning will mostly go unnoticed.. I feel it most often here at school where we were censored on the broadcast from saying even at first Merry Christmas, then Happy Christmahanakwanzika..it is almost like the christian side of everything gets squeezed out.

muddyfeet said...

I saw the movie and I was deeply moved by the presence and humility of the image of Aslan was a clarifying moment for me.