When I was about eleven my mother was a junior school teacher of the kind who used to read stories to her classes. The kids always used to enjoy the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis and, when I read them, I enjoyed them too. Now these books are being turned into films and as with many other recent films, like the ones based on the Marvel characters, since as a child I used to read the comics, or The Lord of the Rings, I looked forward to seeing this stuff from my formative years up there on the screen. I enjoyed The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, enjoyed seeing the images I’d once seen in my mind translated into the ersatz reality of the big screen, but with some reservations about how the story was told. And yesterday, when we sat down to watch Prince Caspian, I began to enjoy that, until the very end, when Aslan appeared.
Wonderful special effects here, and excellent translation (as far as I can remember) of the book to the screen. The centaurs, minataurs and all the other creatures of Narnia were done superbly, nothing wrong with the acting too, though the children made me feel rather uncomfortable and I was thoroughly aware that this was definitely a children’s book. So what pissed me off? Well Mr Lewis was very definitely a believer, as his many Christian books will attest, and his religion came up through the story telling to smack me in the forehead like a mallet made from the true cross.
I guess the film producers really went with this because Aslan couldn’t have been more Christlike if he’d worn a crown of thorns and been bleeding from the paws. He came in at the end and sorted it all out – a deus ex machina Greek god lowered on his platform to sort out all the squabbles, an ending almost completely severed from the story that went before, moral message delivered: all you had to do was believe in me. Very disappointing, but then one should not try to revisit childhood. And, I guess, the original book was a piece of religious propaganda, and attempt at indoctrinating children, that just didn’t work with me.