Narnia: A Ringer’s Consolation?
Well, now that Lord of the Rings is over, what’s a fellow fan to do besides waiting, hoping, and praying to the Powers that Be that Peter Jackson will make The Hobbit? A good alternative could be to check out C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia.
Why? Because CoN is a fantastic piece of fantasy literature. Yes, it comprises of seven stories written for children, but there are themes and messages that even adults can truly appreciate. Often the simplest of phrases can cause bouts of serious thinking, for those who want to think deeply, just as Tolkien’s works often have inspired fans.
It also helps that C.S. Lewis was a friend of J.R.R. Tolkien. Both authors were part of a group of literary critics and writers called the Inklings. This group often gathered to hear stories of Vikings and the realm of the Old Norse, which later provided inspiration for Tolkien’s works. Both men were also Christians; Tolkien was a Catholic, Lewis was a Protestant. Their stories are full of parallels from their faiths. However, while Tolkien used a subtle approach in his works, Lewis was much more direct.
Some might say that Lewis was a bit forceful with the obvious Christian elements he put into his story, the most obvious being Aslan’s Resurrection in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Well, so what? It is a children’s tale after all. But the thinly veiled elements of Christianity are just a part of a beautifully told story filled with magic, evil witches, all sorts of delightful talking creatures, and exciting adventures.
In 2005, Disney made The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe into a live-action movie. Many people, including myself, were greatly pleased with a decent distraction from Tolkien’s world. (Although some people, like myself, weren’t pleased with some of the liberties taken, but that’s another essay entirely.) What some people might not know that there is an older BBC television serial of the Chronicles of Narnia that includes four film adaptions out of the seven original books. I have not seen it, so I cannot say how good it is. You’ll just have to see it for yourselves while you wait for Disney.
The next movie scheduled to be released is Prince Caspian. Originally it was scheduled to be released in December of this year, but now it has been pushed back to May 16, 2008. (Not that anyone really cares, but my birthday is May 19, so this will probably be an early b-day present! YAY!) Fans of the Disney movie should be pleased to know that all of the Pevensie’s will be returning, as will Liam Neeson, who provided the voice of Aslan. Also joining the cast is Ben Barnes for the role of Caspian, Sergio Castellitto as King Miraz, Vincent Grass as Doctor Cornelius, Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin, and Warwick Davis (who provided the voice of Reepicheep in the BBC version) as Nikabrik. As of yet, Reepicheep has yet to be announced.
The Chronicles of Narnia is a delightful collection of tales that can provide Tolkien fans with some consolation, now that the movies are finished. The current movies are pleasing to the eye, and the stories are wonderful in their own right, made all the better set in a fantasy world of talking animals. I highly recommend at least giving it a sporting chance.