The Chronicles of Narnia (2005)

Rated PG. Our ratings: V-3 ; L- 0; S/N-0 Running time: 2 hours 15 min.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
Revelation 12:7-9

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them.8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
Ephesians 5:6-9

The Chronicles of Narnia

Worries about loss of Christian meaning proved groundless as C.S. Lewis’s epic fantasy unreeled across the big screen, Screenwriters Ann Peacock, Mr. Adamson, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have done well by the book, with director Andrew Adamson keeping the action moving along, and director of photography, Donald M. McAlpine providing us a sumptuously beautiful Narnia, once the drab, war-torn world on this side of the wardrobe is left behind. Even though it is enveloped by winter, brought on by the cold-blooded reign of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), Narnia is a beautiful land, one in which beavers, wolves, and foxes talk, and intermingle with mythical creatures.

The film makes one improvement on the book by showing us the war raging in Europe. In a darkened sky above London, filled with the probing beams of searchlights and the arc of tracer bullets, we see German bombers dropping their murderous bombs as part of Goering’s attempt to bomb England into submission. . Far below, Mrs. Pevensie (Judy McIntosh) is attempting to herd her four children into a bomb shelter, but as usual the bratty Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is balky, endangering his obedient siblings, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Peter (William Moseley). By showing more of the War than Lewis did, the filmmakers set us up for the parallel war that will engulf the fantasy world beyond the wardrobe.

The danger during the London Blitz is so great that Mother sends her children, each tagged with their names and addresses, to a country estate where Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent) has offered sanctuary. Apparently too engrossed in studies, he delegates the welcoming and settling in of the children to Mrs. Macready (Mrs. Hawhorne), his stiff and formal housemistress. Warned by her to be quiet and never interrupt the professor, the children explore the house. Rain interferes with their desire to look around outside, so the lively Lucy, youngest of the four, talks her siblings into playing hide and seek. It was hiding out in an imposing wardrobe that Lucy, receding to the back of the fur coat-packed closet stumbles into Narnia. It is winter, but a wondrous place—just how wondrous she discovers when she meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), who in polite British tradition invites her to his home for tea.

There is a brief, sinister moment when the friendly faun reveals that all Narnian creatures have been ordered to turn over to the White Witch any visitors they meet, especially should they be human. He decides to disobey orders, and after tea, conveys Lucy back to their meeting point in the forest. Rushing back through the wardrobe to tell her sister and brothers of her discovery, Lucy is disappointed by their skeptical reception of her news. Later, Edmund discovers that her wild tale is true, and he meets the White Witch, who uses his lust for sweets and the promise of making him a prince, to agree to go back and bring with him his siblings. All four do enter the realm where they meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (voiced by Dawn French and Ray Winstone), who proceed to tell them about the hundred year long winter brought on by the White Witch, and of the promise that humans would arrive to assist Aslan, the great lion protector of Narnia, in defeating the Witch and her evil minions.

Peter and Susan are less than enthusiastic in entering upon such an adventure. Edmund sneaks off to inform the White Witch of the arrival of his siblings, but she is so enraged that he has failed to bring them directly to her that she thrusts him into an icy dungeon. Meanwhile, the other children are given no choice of leaving Narnia for the safety of their home. A snarling pack of wolves, agents of the White Witch, attack the Beavers’ lodge, forcing all to flee via a secret tunnel. The rest of the adventure includes the meeting up with Aslan (voiced by Leem Neeson) and the children, each given a weapon suitable to their nature, joining Aslan’s followers to prepare to do battle with the evil forces determined that the long winter will continue. The awesome sacrifice of Aslan might come as a surprise to those who are not familiar with the book, but to readers in the know the scene will nonetheless be deeply moving. What a wonderful opportunity for parents and church leaders to talk with children about courage, loyalty, and love. But, please, hold off on the allegory for a while and see if the children will discover for themselves the deeper layer of meaning.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) What do you think of the opening sequence of the bombing of London? A good preface to the war in Narnia?

2) Which of the four Pevensie children—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—seems most like yourself? Why?

3) Would you have believed Lucy’s story about the wardrobe and Narnia had you been there when she returned? What do you think of the Professor’s reasoning when the children talked with him? How does it come down to trusting the messenger? How does this relate to our own acceptance of what seems to some to be the wild, improbable tales of the Man from Nazareth’s life, death, and Resurrection?

4) When challenged by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, were they eager to enter the fray against the White Witch? How is this reluctance similar to that of those called by God in the Bible? (See Exodus 3:1-20; Jeremiah 1:1-8.)

5) How is a lion a good stand-in for Christ? How do you make this symbolism compatible with the image of Christ as Lamb in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation? Related to the concepts of Christ as victim and victor? (See Revelation 5:1-10.)

6) Although C.S. Lewis did not see the war in Narnia as the final or apocalyptical one, how is Revelation 12:7-9 relevant?

7) What does the White Witch use to seduce Edmund to come over to her side? How is this often the way that the devil works? (See Genesis 3:1-5.) Have you been tempted in this way?

8) How is Aslan’s sacrifice a living out of John 12:24 and 15:13? In what smaller ways do Christians “die” or “lay down” their lives for others? Do you see in your church instances of people putting the interests of others before their own?The Chronicles of Narnia Rated PG. Our ratings: V-3 ; L- 0; S/N-0 Running time: 2 hours 15 min.

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, 8but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

Revelation 12:7-9

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. 7Therefore do not be associated with them.8For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— 9for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.

Ephesians 5:6-9

Worries about loss of Christian meaning proved groundless as C.S. Lewis’s epic fantasy unreeled across the big screen, Screenwriters Ann Peacock, Mr. Adamson, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have done well by the book, with director Andrew Adamson keeping the action moving along, and director of photography, Donald M. McAlpine providing us a sumptuously beautiful Narnia, once the drab, war-torn world on this side of the wardrobe is left behind. Even though it is enveloped by winter, brought on by the cold-blooded reign of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), Narnia is a beautiful land, one in which beavers, wolves, and foxes talk, and intermingle with mythical creatures.

The film makes one improvement on the book by showing us the war raging in Europe. In a darkened sky above London, filled with the probing beams of searchlights and the arc of tracer bullets, we see German bombers dropping their murderous bombs as part of Goering’s attempt to bomb England into submission. . Far below, Mrs. Pevensie (Judy McIntosh) is attempting to herd her four children into a bomb shelter, but as usual the bratty Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is balky, endangering his obedient siblings, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Peter (William Moseley). By showing more of the War than Lewis did, the filmmakers set us up for the parallel war that will engulf the fantasy world beyond the wardrobe.

The danger during the London Blitz is so great that Mother sends her children, each tagged with their names and addresses, to a country estate where Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent) has offered sanctuary. Apparently too engrossed in studies, he delegates the welcoming and settling in of the children to Mrs. Macready (Mrs. Hawhorne), his stiff and formal housemistress. Warned by her to be quiet and never interrupt the professor, the children explore the house. Rain interferes with their desire to look around outside, so the lively Lucy, youngest of the four, talks her siblings into playing hide and seek. It was hiding out in an imposing wardrobe that Lucy, receding to the back of the fur coat-packed closet stumbles into Narnia. It is winter, but a wondrous place—just how wondrous she discovers when she meets a faun named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), who in polite British tradition invites her to his home for tea.

There is a brief, sinister moment when the friendly faun reveals that all Narnian creatures have been ordered to turn over to the White Witch any visitors they meet, especially should they be human. He decides to disobey orders, and after tea, conveys Lucy back to their meeting point in the forest. Rushing back through the wardrobe to tell her sister and brothers of her discovery, Lucy is disappointed by their skeptical reception of her news. Later, Edmund discovers that her wild tale is true, and he meets the White Witch, who uses his lust for sweets and the promise of making him a prince, to agree to go back and bring with him his siblings. All four do enter the realm where they meet Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (voiced by Dawn French and Ray Winstone), who proceed to tell them about the hundred year long winter brought on by the White Witch, and of the promise that humans would arrive to assist Aslan, the great lion protector of Narnia, in defeating the Witch and her evil minions.

Peter and Susan are less than enthusiastic in entering upon such an adventure. Edmund sneaks off to inform the White Witch of the arrival of his siblings, but she is so enraged that he has failed to bring them directly to her that she thrusts him into an icy dungeon. Meanwhile, the other children are given no choice of leaving Narnia for the safety of their home. A snarling pack of wolves, agents of the White Witch, attack the Beavers’ lodge, forcing all to flee via a secret tunnel. The rest of the adventure includes the meeting up with Aslan (voiced by Leem Neeson) and the children, each given a weapon suitable to their nature, joining Aslan’s followers to prepare to do battle with the evil forces determined that the long winter will continue. The awesome sacrifice of Aslan might come as a surprise to those who are not familiar with the book, but to readers in the know the scene will nonetheless be deeply moving. What a wonderful opportunity for parents and church leaders to talk with children about courage, loyalty, and love. But, please, hold off on the allegory for a while and see if the children will discover for themselves the deeper layer of meaning.

For Reflection/Discussion

1) What do you think of the opening sequence of the bombing of London? A good preface to the war in Narnia?

2) Which of the four Pevensie children—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy—seems most like yourself? Why?

3) Would you have believed Lucy’s story about the wardrobe and Narnia had you been there when she returned? What do you think of the Professor’s reasoning when the children talked with him? How does it come down to trusting the messenger? How does this relate to our own acceptance of what seems to some to be the wild, improbable tales of the Man from Nazareth’s life, death, and Resurrection?

4) When challenged by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, were they eager to enter the fray against the White Witch? How is this reluctance similar to that of those called by God in the Bible? (See Exodus 3:1-20; Jeremiah 1:1-8.)

5) How is a lion a good stand-in for Christ? How do you make this symbolism compatible with the image of Christ as Lamb in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation? Related to the concepts of Christ as victim and victor? (See Revelation 5:1-10.)

6) Although C.S. Lewis did not see the war in Narnia as the final or apocalyptical one, how is Revelation 12:7-9 relevant?

7) What does the White Witch use to seduce Edmund to come over to her side? How is this often the way that the devil works? (See Genesis 3:1-5.) Have you been tempted in this way?

8) How is Aslan’s sacrifice a living out of John 12:24 and 15:13? In what smaller ways do Christians “die” or “lay down” their lives for others? Do you see in your church instances of people putting the interests of others before their own?