With a mammoth film adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe now only one month away from release, it’s evident that the producers have stayed on message and the audience has responded: The adaptation will be faithful.
Attendees at a recent <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Belmont University conference—”Past Watchful Dragons: Fantasy and Faith in the World of C.S. Lewis“—were excited about the upcoming film, which comes out Dec. 9 from Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
The fact that the film is allegedly “faithful” to the book has been a major point of emphasis for the filmmakers, and the message has apparently paid off.
“It’s a film which stays very true to the original book,” said Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ stepson, during his conference keynote address Nov. 3. “Everything you need to see in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be there.”
Even prior to his remarks, conference participants were emphasizing the film’s faithfulness to the book.
“From everything I’ve read, it’s going to be a very faithful adaptation—a lovingly faithful adaptation,” said Devin Brown, professor of English at Asbury College and author of the recently published Inside Narnia: A Guide to Exploring The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Rich Tiner, director of Belmont’s mass communication program, had a similar opinion.
“Can’t wait for that one because I know that it was done well in terms of quality, but also done well in terms of story and maintaining the intent of the story,” said Tiner, who became a Lewis fan after reading the Chronicles about 20 years ago.
Belmont freshmen and conference attendees Hannah Schoepke, Clare Cannon and Kelda Williamson were all excited about the film as well.
“I hear they’re trying to do a very faithful rendition of the movie like the book,” said Cannon.
Bruce Edwards, noted Lewis scholar and professor of English at Bowling Green State University, was one of the conference’s main presenters. He also managed to see a rough cut of the movie.
“I am cautiously optimistic that the whole thing will be terrific,” said Edwards. “What I’ve seen has been better than my expectations.”
Greg Wright, in charge of Narnia coverage for Hollywood Jesus, said he had consciously tried to remain objective about the upcoming adaptation, but after screening some extended footage just days prior to the conference, his anticipation heightened.
“That got me a little more excited than I had been,” said Wright, a conference presenter from Seattle and editor of Two Roads Through Narnia: Literary Analysis and Spiritual Commentary. “It moved me.”
Jenn Wright, a Lewis scholar and contributor to Two Roads Through Narnia, still has some questions about the adaptation.
“I’m real interested to see how they deal with the resurrection of Aslan, only because I don’t know how they can do it without being heavy-handed,” she said, adding that the challenge will be to satisfy the Christian base and yet appeal to others.
In fact, that challenge likely applies to the whole film.
“I assume people who enjoyed ‘The Passion of the Christ’ will go to see it,” said Reece Morehead, reference librarian at Nashville Public Library. “I don’t know how popular it will be with the general public. I’m assuming it will be.”
“The previews look very promising,” he added.
Author and professor Brown, however, believes the movie will be a uniting force this holiday season:
“You’re going to see all different kinds of people lining up there: old, young, middle age, people with families, singles, professionals, working-class people, believers, nonbelievers, all different kinds of Christians, which may be the most amazing thing to group together, if you know what I mean.”