The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

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We all went to see this film yesterday. Samuel and I nearly didn't make it through the very first scene in the film. Linda wasn't far behind. But after that little rough patch everything smoothed out into what was really a very enjoyable film. The acting was decent, the special effects occasionally jarred me out of the story and got me to thinking about the art of film rather than what I was supposed to be focused on. I was also a little surprised by how very little sense the story makes when one sits back and looks at it.

This is where our two great inklings differ so dramatically. I've never been particularly impressed with Lewis's fiction. His forte is that kind of nonfiction story-telling that gets at his more practical points. For example, I think The Screwtape Letters a vastly superior work to most of his fiction (the exception might be That Hideous Strength). Letters to Malcolm:Chiefly on Prayer and The Great Divorce are other examples of using the techniques of fiction to present argument or fact. As I was thinking through the Narnia presentation, I kept finding myself troubled with questions that a person like Tolkien would already have considered in detail. Now, on Tolkien's side, I must say, that I find his non-fiction very donnish and often nearly opaque. His strength was in the full and vivid creation of worlds and races and histories--he truly was a story-teller who had all the strands together because he had spent so much time making the whole.

Lewis and Tolkien have very different purposes, very different means, and very different strengths. But, as much as I liked the film, particularly the icy Queen of Narnia, I found that it made transparent some of the difficulties I always had with Lewis's storytelling.

Be that as it may, I enjoyed the film. Linda was touched by the film. And typical of a seven year-old boy Samuel liked "the fighting." But the point did not completely pass him by and he said that he would much rather be like Peter than like Edmund and, no, mommy wasn't much like the Queen of Narnia. . .

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I agree in your assessment of Tolkien's and Lewis's strengths and weaknesses as writers to some extent, but have you read Till We Have Faces? It's Lewis's best work of fiction, I think.

Dear Sherry,

I agree with the assessment, but the reason, I think, is that he had the story poured out for him and he adapted it to his own purposes. Till We Have Faces is, if I recall correctly, Cupid and Psyche, a perfect metaphor for the main point.

Also A Pilgrim's Regress being outwardly allegorical and an inverse of Bunyan's book works on levels that do not usually accompany their fiction.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate it.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 9, 2006 2:31 PM.

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