Sunday, May 14, 2006


I finally got around to watching Narnia. Was it worth the wait?

I have to say that I was disappointed. It was given the Lord of the Rings treatment and turned into a cinema blockbuster, but I think this was a mistake. The book is a smaller, less complex opus than TLOR - it can easily be read in an afternoon. It is much more a domestic story that doesn't need the opening out to the plains and mountains of New Zealand. The BBC made a television version of it some years ago that in many ways was better, though I couldn't really enthuse about that. Much better to read the book.

To get down to specifics. First, the music was too loud for the speech - and with CS Lewis the words are important. Second, the acting was nothing to write home about. On the whole the children were adequate - Lucy a bit more than adequate, Peter a bit less. Tilda Swinton, who got rave reviews, was, in my view, poor as the White Witch. She was neither frightening nor evil - just some second rate crook with a stick that turned people into statues. Mr Tumnus was good, but the beavers didn't really work and although Aslan was well visualized he never captured the essence of being 'good, but not safe'. Third, the CGI was OK, but after TLOR rather commonplace.

Of course you can't extinguish the wonderful story, even with a below par film. In the BBC series it all went rather downhill for the later books and I don't hold out too much hope for the other six in the manifetation. I would predict that they don't all get made.

But don't let me put you off reading CS Lewis. Try 'Out of the Silent Planet', 'A Gruef Observed' and 'The Problem of Pain'.


Vance Esler said...

During my internal medicine residency, I read all of C.S. Lewis' works. It was a nice break from the tedium of medical literature, though no less challenging. I particularly enjoyed the "space trilogy."

Another book I enjoyed was Sheldon Vanauken's A Severe Mercy. I had just gotten married, and it touched me deeply. It gives some additional insight into Lewis, who had befriended Sheldon and his wife.

I haven't read any of these works in many years. It might be interesting to re-read to see if I understand him any better now that I am older and, presumably, wiser...

Chonette said...

I felt the same when I saw it myself.

Terry Hamblin said...

I have spent a lot of today moving books from my downstairs bookcases to new bookcases I have built in the loft. Among those shifted upsatairs was Vanauken's. It is a very long time since I read it, but it goes upstairs with my complete CS Lewis collection, my full set of Graham Greenes, my Len Deightons, my John LeCarres, my John Buchans and my Terry Pratchets. These are books that I am keeping to read again some day. I still have hundreds unread and many that I have given away after reading.

Anonymous said...

I must say I've never read Len Deighton, but I did see (and remember quite fondly) the teleplay, 'Game, Set, and Match'. It was broadcast here in the States on PBS. My late father videorecorded it for me, and I still have the tape.

It was excellently done with Ian Holm as Bernard Samson.

It may be available in the UK. The last time I checked, it wasn't available in the US.

Heartily recommended. Holm was an excellent Samson.

Also very much recommended is the Ipcress File with Michael Caine.

LeCarre is another favorite of mine; I've read most of his books. They are delicious reads.

The miniseries with Alec Guiness 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' is so darned excellent. I found it on the UK site for Amazon, and paid to have the tape transcribed to the NTSC format from PAL. Superb.

Was the book(s) better? They, of course, usually are, but Alec Guiness is awfully hard to beat.

Where are these kinds of films these days?

Terry Hamblin said...

Of course the books were better, but both the Ian Holm and Alec Guinness mini-series were excellent. I have them too.There is another Bernard Sampson set: 'Faith' 'Hope' and 'Charity' which are well worth reading. Why not try to get hold of the radio play "Bomber" by Len Deighton. Set in the 2nd World War, it stars John Thaw (Morse) as Air Chief Marshall (Bomber) Harris. I think it is still available from Amazon UK.

Also, watch Alec Guinness again in "Smiley's Return". There was also a dramatization of "The Honorable Schoolboy" in the same series, but the BBC have never released it on video. They should.

Steve Madden said...

I remember reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe when I was about 10 or 11.

No movie could give me the sense of wonder and amazement as this book did at such a young age.

Anonymous said...

It seems few books "translate" well to the big screen; personally, I can think of only two.....Schindler's List and Prince of Tides; I did see the Constant Gardener and very much enjoyed it. I will have to read the book. Books by C.S. Lewis were favorites of my students....the magic was what took place in the imagination!