Saturday, December 10, 2005

If you're a person who likes to go into a movie knowing nothing about it and you haven't seen The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe yet, stop reading and go see it. Right now.

I suppose I have quite a lot to say about the movie, but I don't know how much of it is really suitable for posting here. So let me make one general observation, and one specific observation. The general observation is that it was glorious. Indeed, it was excellent.

The specific observation is that I really like what they did with Peter and Susan. Now, they didn't change anything (I add that for the benefit of you rash souls who failed to heed my warning, supra), but they did add things. I guess. The thing is, Susan and Peter really didn't have a reason for existing before. Especially Susan. Peter at least served the role of being Peter, the High King. The Narnian Arthur. But they were still flat, and most importantly there was never really anything wrong with them. They were the big kids, the responsible ones. As Archimedes put it, in the book when Peter says to Aslan, "It's my fault. I was too hard on him [Edmund]," (not what he says in the book exactly, but you get the point) your response is to go, "No it's not!" But in the movie your response is to say, "Yeah, it really was your fault."

That's just an example. The point is, if Peter and Susan are simply good kids, they serve no point in the story. Edmund's role is obvious - he's the redeemed kid. And that is why he grows up to be Edmund the Just. Lucy's role is also pretty obvious - she's the one with faith like a child. And that is why she grows up to be Lucy the Valiant (side note: I have decided that the proper labels for the chivalrous lady knight are wise, magnificent, and valiant). But what are Peter and Susan supposed to teach us about the Christian life? From the books it's hard to get a real feel for that.

From the movie, I thought I got a pretty good sense. Peter is not just the grown up kid, the responsible one. Peter is the kid who wants desperately to do the right thing, to be fierce and protect his family, and (here's the important part) no matter how hard he tries he can't. It's not that his heart isn't in the right place. His heart is in the best place a human heart can be. It's not that he doesn't try. He tries with every fiber of his being. And yet he can't do it. It's not enough. He isn't the man he wants to be, that he needs to be, and he knows it. He doesn't lack heart. Or will. Or even action. He lacks Aslan. Peter's story is about finding out where his strength truly lies. And that is why he grows up to be Peter the Magnificent. That tells me something about being Christian. About being a man.

And Susan - Susan may have just replaced Peter as my favorite character in these books. I thought all of the children's performances were great (and Lucy was just phenomenal), but Susan broke my heart. She just popped off the screen for me, a real girl. You could really see how Susan "always was a jolly sight too keen on growing up," and really feel the pathos of that. Because Susan wants to be responsible. She wants to be a pillar of strength to her family, and see them all through all right in the end, and be a good servant-leader. And you can see her come to long for the wildness of Aslan, and the wildness of adventure. You can see why she grows up to be Susan the Gentle, and why kings from across the world would want her as their Queen. She's magnificent, and I think a man meeting her would be strongly tempted to bow down and worship her. And you could also see, watching Anna Popplewell's performance, how Susan goes wrong. How the girl who becomes Susan the Gentle could just as well have "wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age." This movie made me actually feel for what Susan loses, and made me feel the all-too-tragic reality of why she loses it. Her story tells me something about being Christian.

It was excellent.

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