About Narnia, C.S. Lewis, the books, and the movies

June 21, 2010

I read the books when I was 8 or 9 years old, and hard-cover editions of them were given to me for subsequent birthdays. I liked the stories a lot, and read several of the books many times.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fairly magical set-up of the little world of Narnia and its parameters. Even as a small child I “got” that this was an allegory for the story of Jesus.

Prince Caspian, the book I could never finish. I’m just not interested in battles.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is just a series of adventures, but each of them is pretty exciting. I read this one many times.

The Silver Chair is the best of the books, a terrific adventure with magical, talking creatures, a great villain, and a beginning, middle and end. And little need for allegorical allusions. My favorite.

The Horse and His Boy, which I dutifully read once, seemed out of place and oddly dull. There are no humans in it. It turns out to have been written before the Narnia series, and then rewritten to take place in Narnia. My second least favorite of the books (after Prince Caspian).

The Magician’s Nephew is great fun, for the fantasy elements but also for the “historical” elements of turn-of-the-century London. This book, along with the 3 others mentioned, I read quite a few times.

The Last Battle is an OK wrapup. It’s nice to revisit familiar beloved characters like Jill, but even as a child I thought the very end was obvious and a let-down. I read this book twice, and was let-down twice.

As an adult, I remembered the books with fondness, until the movies began to be made…

The first one is memorable primarily for Tilda Swinton, a perfectly-cast White Witch. Otherwise, the story has become very tedious. I simply don’t believe that children faced with battles and witches wouldn’t be calling for their mother, who exists in the very real world of World War II. And speaking of battles, must every movie in the 2000s have a battle to the death? Ugh, very disappointing movie.

Prince Caspian was better, simply because the story itself isn’t as allegorical, and the movie was less self-important. And I never finished the book anyway. Still, another battle.

And there it is. I’ll look forward to the other movies, because I liked the books better.