The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Director: Andrew Adamson
Cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton

Reviewer: Joanna McKenzie

I have a great fondness for C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series. I read them all avidly as a child, spending hours enjoying the depth of the country and characters. The BBC TV series was something of a disappointment: the characters were so different, and the BBC special effects department of the time simply couldn’t match the spectacular sights, sounds, smells and tastes I experienced when I read the books.

Special effects have moved on a lot since then, and in the new film of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe they are simply stunning. Each mythical creature described by Lewis comes vividly to life, and Aslan himself, clumsy and puppet-like in the series, finally takes on the flowing, golden life that so enchanted me in the books.

To be honest, though, it wasn’t the way the special effects were handled that appealed to me in this film. It was the delicate way the story was re-moulded so that while it is recognisably the same story, it was gently redistributed to fit the confines of the film. It delivered exactly what I hoped for in vain from the Harry Potter films: a flowing and deftly-executed re-telling of a known story in a new medium. Divergences from the book were all clearly necessary, and significantly improved the development of the story.

The characters were exactly as I remember them from the books. The White Witch may not be particularly scary to an adult viewer, but she is very strange and psychologically other in a way that’s oddly disturbing. The four children each took on their allotted role well, and while children in films can be awkward, there was absolutely no trace of that here. From the very beginning, I believed that these four strangers were brothers and sisters, and many aspects of their relationship rang true to me from my own childhood.

In short: an excellent film that I intend to see again. Perhaps even as often as I’ve read the book!