Monday, December 19, 2005

For Narnia and the Lion!

Well, yes, The Chronicles of Narnia film is rather "workmanlike" in its sincerity and faithfulness to the book and, yes, the child actors range from acceptable (Susan and Lucy) to poor (Edmund) to dreadful (Peter, no doubt chosen because he looks like Prince William) and, yes, it plods along at times, but still and all ... I loved it. Aslan in particular is PERFECT. I cried every time he appeared. You could take a bath in Liam Neeson's voice. The witch is fairly good also though a bit stiff (frozen?).

But never mind the movie, I want to defend the books against all this Narnia-bashing. Look, if Christian fundamentalists are claiming the Chronicles for their own that can only be a good thing; CS Lewis's gentle (as opposed to rabid) conservatism may teach them some compassion. Having been reared in Northern Ireland, he himself deplored intolerant and fanatical Christianity. Agreed, he does display anti-Arab tendencies in his presentation of the Calormenes, even as Tolkien, too, was racist regardless of what his apologists say -- i.e. all the "evil men" who side with Sauron are described as "swarthy" and "dark" -- and, yes, they are both utterly old-fashioned when it comes to women, but here's the thing: do the books encourage anti-Arab sentiment, racism, and the oppression of women? I don't think so. For all the flaws of their authors, these books encourage goodness and nobility; the kind of goodness and nobility that would not side with racism, bigotry, intolerance, or any kind of hatred and oppression of one's fellow human beings.

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