One-dimensional Narnia

By | April 17th, 2006 | 9 Comments | General

Flying back home after a week in Washington D.C., the United flight attendants announced that the in-flight movie would be The Chronicles of Narnia. Having had a vague desire to see it when it came out, I put down my French poem to plug in the earphones and watch it. I had good expectations, hearing it was well done from friends and recalling the story I read in…third grade? But I far from enjoyed it. The thing that got me the total flatness of the whole production.

Good vs. evil dominated the movie. That’s cool, nothing new, you know the same old theme. But what amazed me was the almost-comical distinction between the two. You could tell who was going to be in the scene based on the color of the sky (Quick guide: gray→evil; blue→good). Everyone was on one side or the other. No one was ever tempted to switch sides. When Peter Edmund happened upon them by mistake, it was just a mistake. The reason he fraternized with the bad guys was ignorance; he didn’t know any better! As soon as he was enlightened as to the proper path, he was with the good guys.

Race was also scarily well-defined. The wolves were with, you guessed it, the bad guys. The beautiful centaurs: good. All of the pretty beasts were good, all of the ugly were evil. You’ve got one eye? Hmmm, that makes you…evil! There weren’t any cross-overs, mixed allegiances, nothing. Your beliefs are defined right along with the sleekness of your fur. Disgusting.

At least in works like The Lord of the Rings, evil can be tempting. The most important characters are constantly on the edge between good and evil. Their actions are unpredictable. But here, not so. Even when any of the good guys die or get injured, they’re back again in the next scene. Lame.

Now, to address the question you’re all asking (indeed, one that I asked myself after I saw it). Why can’t I just sit back and enjoy a simple children’s movie? Simply put, I can’t stand the messages it’s sending. The whole Us vs. Them thing. The way you look dictating your allegiances. The absolute purity of the good side. This kind of message develops uncooperative, uncompromising attitudes in children. You’re always right and good, so the other guys can go to hell. These scary attitudes are what have this nation on constant edge with our neighbors.

Meh, what should I have expected from Disney anyway?

 

There've been 8 whole comments

1:33 pm on 4/17/2006 1. Neil Kelty

When Peter happened upon them by mistake, it was just a mistake. The reason he fraternized with the bad guys was ignorance; he didn’t know any better! As soon as he was enlightened as to the proper path, he was with the good guys.

First off, it was Edward – I believe you are talking about here. If I’m wrong – I apoligize, but Peter is the oldest of the group.

I remember seeing the “old-school” versions of Narnia and I seem to enjoy those a little more – this one was just a little too “modern” for my liking. I think the older movies were much more realisitc.

But with the whole us versus them thing…they are just re-creating the story. In order to get the storyline changed you’d have to wine to the author. But definatly – I am getting tired of the same old same old.

2:00 pm on 4/17/2006 2. nik

Mm… sounds like American politics! “You’re either with us or you’re against us”, eh? But I think it’s important to talk about these types of things. Sure, its just a Disney movie for kids; but those kids do become adults at some point (in some cases it takes longer than in others), and this movie is a form of propaganda.

Of course, that begs the question: what form of mass-media isn’t? However, this is even more egregious a threat then, say, CNN since it targets young kids, who’s minds are rather more susceptible to these types of influences then their adult counter-parts.

2:29 pm on 4/17/2006 3. Mike Purvis

Neil: I think you mean Edmund. At any rate, yeah, one of the characteristics of the series as a whole is that the players represent ideals rather than actual people.

It’s not necessarily a weakness (though Tolkien thought so), it’s just out of style with the current literary fashions. I think Lewis thought of the Narnia series as more like morality tales or fables; when you read stories about brer rabbit, is there ever any question about who’s good and who’s not? No, the fun is in the adventure, not the vast complexities of the multi-layered characters.

12:47 pm on 4/18/2006 4. Jeff Munro

Been reading the site for the last couple of posts, you have a concrete opinion about some random stuff!! I like it!! Good read!

1:52 pm on 4/24/2006 5. erika

HEY… anyone? Can ANYONE direct me to the “old-school” version of Chronicles of Narnia? Before computer animation… Before the bright colors and 3d effects… I want the really really really really old animated VHS tape.. my mom threw it away, dammit. Does ANYONE know where I could find it? One dimensional is a good way to describe it. Hand-drawn, maybe? Help!

6:46 pm on 4/24/2006 6. Neil Kelty

HEY… anyone? Can ANYONE direct me to the “old-school” version of Chronicles of Narnia? Before computer animation… Before the bright colors and 3d effects… I want the really really really really old animated VHS tape.. my mom threw it away, dammit. Does ANYONE know where I could find it? One dimensional is a good way to describe it. Hand-drawn, maybe? Help!

Simple, LimeWire It. I love the old-school versions – they just are better for some reason.

11:58 am on 7/26/2006 7. Amit

Shouldn’t you really be pointing a finger at CS Lewis and not Disney? I think the original story, although for everyone, is more appealing to children. You can’t expect children to understand or even care about the complexities of morality and good vs. evil. Ofcourse, it’s never cut and dry. I don’t think it’s fair to compare two works of art (LOTR and Narnia), unless one was a sequel to the other series. Granted, I haven’t read the book in such a long time, I could be missing the “Disney over-simplification for the sake of hollywood” effect.

1:51 pm on 3/8/2007 8. daniela

hiiiii