Monday, January 02, 2006

"Land of make believe..."

In an effort to cheer myself up, I went to see Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe today. It didn't cheer me up, but I'll get to that later. First, the movie.

I read the LWW many, many years ago. It was a Christian allegory, yes, but I picked it up because I was reading just about anything fantasy I could get my hands on: The Chronicles of Prydion and the Dark is Rising series also fell into my hands at the same time. LWW was actually my least favorite of the books in the set. It wasn't until I was at the end of the Last Battle that the very Christian nature of the series was fully revealed to my brain. So many things clicked in...and being the young Lutheran girl I was, I was thrilled. Christian fantasy, how cool!

I've changed a lot since then, but I was still thrilled to see the trailer for the movie. I cheered, I clapped...I tried to go see the movie on it's opening weekend, but it was sold out.

It is being hailed as the best film of 2005 by some critics...and I would like to respectfully disagree. It is perhaps the film with the most precocious star (the character Lucy steals every scene she is in). It is perhaps the only film which features Liam Neeson and Rupert Evert as forest creatures. It has amazing griffons, centaurs, and a surprisingly sexy faun (was he supposed to be sexy?..I don't remember that!).

I think I may have even have spotted a wookie, but I think that was a mistake (although Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic did do the f/x).

But, I have to admit that half-way through the film, I found myself (sitting next to a 6 year old) thinking about the mytho-historical implications of the story...this is never a good thing. Now, I suppose I can be somewhat excused. I am a witch...and the allegory of the fiercest woman in the film (and how can Swinton be anything but fierce - gods, but she was freyja and boadecia and lilith and any other warrioress/goddess you'd want to name in that battle!) being evil brings up all sorts of thoughts about the conversion of Europe to Christianity, the demonization of pagan gods, and the subjugation of women.

But if a movie cannot disengage my analytical components and make me be present for the sheer joy of the moment, then it is not fully doing it's job. Especially a fantasy...I am a sucker for fantasy, and this just left something to be desired.

I will look forward to any further movies from this sold well, if attendance in it's 3rd weekend is any indication. I didn't hate it, I just am not sure I'd see it again...unless it was to see the White Witch performing her pagan sacrafice of Aslan at the Stone Table (is that WRONG?!). But if you want to see the best film of 2005, go see Brokeback Mountain. That movie haunts me.

As for my mood. I'm still crying at the drop of a hat. I even found myself shouting at myself to STOP THINKING as I was driving to the movie today. Maybe I shouldn't be shouting at myself, but getting angry stopped me from crying and driving (not a smart mix). I go to see the doctor on Wednesday (although I just realized that it's actually the physician's assistant I'll be seeing) and we will be talking antidepressants.


Aravis said...

That was interesting, Spin. I've always loved these books, though in my case I have to say that it's in spite of the Christian allegory.

I had the same experience with the witch in this movie that you had, especially comparing her to those legendary, historical pagan women. A part of me couldn't help but cheer her on, even though I detested her character. This never happened to me with the books, and I think it's due to the costuming and overall look of the character in the movie vs. the book. At least, that's where it's at for me.

I enjoyed the movie and would watch it again, but I wouldn't call it the best of 2005 either.

SwissToni said...

Tilda Swinton was the best thing in this whole sorry film by a million miles (followed by James McEvoy, who made an excellent Mr. Tumnus, I thought).

I read these books too, and latterly I realised they were an allegory, although not when I was first into them. I was bored, bored, bored by the film. It all looked a bit Lord of the Rings (they also used the Weta guys in New Zealand) only without the same level of love and attention to detail. I didn't give a toss about any of the characters, and was actively rooting for the witch.


Of course, the problem they face with making this a saga is that they have already started with the second story - and it probably would have been commerical suicide to start with anything else - but it sort of undermines their point.


More importantly I hope you start feeling better soon Spin.

ST (**sending happy thoughts**)

Mr-Mystic said...

I saw the movie Narnia with the Mrs. the other day. I did not find anything wrong with the movie other than it was strictly a movie for kids. Unlike others of its Genre it did not make any attempt to engage an adult audience.

I totally agree with you about Lucy stealing the show, except when she is acting with the pan chracter. The problem is that the other kids do not have her charisma. Nor do they have her natural acting ability. That is a casting error.

But I do believe that the kids watching the movie were totally thrilled.

The same day that I saw Narnia I rented a sci-fi movie called Serenity. I was not expecting much because I had not heard of the movie prior to its video release. I was completely surprised, lots of fun again the strongest character is female.

SwissToni said...

I take the point about this being more of a kid's movie than something like LOTR - that's true and it would be interesting to see what a child (especially one not familiar with the books) makes of the film.

As for the kids: the only thing I would say about Lucy (who was otherwise very good, I agree) is that I frequently couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying -- and she skipped off to administer to the dead and dying on the battlefield like it was a great game. I thought Edmund was alright (and convincing as the troubled sibling) and Susan was okay with a rather limited role, but Peter was a nightmare - this sort of horrible, stiff posh, public school type. Not at all sympathetic in my books.

I saw "Constantine" for the first time the other day too, and was quite pleasantly surprised. It was vastly better than I had been expecting. Good old Keanu!


Alecya Giovanni said...

Poor Spins. You darling. I wish I could mak eit better. *sends hugs*

spinsterwitch said...

Mystic - you must have missed my writing about Serenity (although I didn't do a full-fledged review like this).

This movie had a cult following in the US before it's release because of the mini-series that preceeded it. Lava Lady could give you the background.

I was psyched because it was Joss Whedan who created it...he was the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie and series) and it's spin-off Angel.

As for Constantine...I was pleasantly surprised too, when I saw it.

Flash said...

Happy new year Spins!

I am sending you lots of love & happy thoughts your way. I hope they make it to you.

The Boy adored Narnia, by the way.

Karla said...

I saw the preview here in Prague and, while I plan to see the movie, felt very skeptical of whether the film was going to do the book justice.

It looked like it was going to be yet another big, bombastic, noisy epic. There's a place for that kind of thing, and it's true that the book has major battle scenes, but on the whole the book is quiet and subtle. (I also have a great attachment to the Pauline Baynes illustrations, so it will be strange to watch live actors in full color.)

Pynchon said...

"Brokeback Mountain" comes out this weekend in the UK and I will definitely be see that.

I haven't seen "Narnia" yet, but I will. It might seem stupid but a long time ago I read that C. S. Lewis wrote a very cruel and twisted parody of H. G. Wells (who was apparently was vehemently anti-religion) into one of this books, when the latter was dying. I remember thinking how un-christian that was and it has kind of put me off.

Still, never criticise material you have not seen, eh?

Matt said...

I have to be one of the few persons on the planet who hasn't read the books.
You'll be ok Spinny. I have no doubt that you have the strength to get through this.

Crucifer said...

In case anyone ever reads this particular comments page again, the Serenity movie is a follow on sequel to the tv series "Firefly" - it was cancelled due to poor ratings and because the TV executives completely screwed with the continuity of the episodes.

It is actually one of the few TV Series I have bought simply on word of mouth recommendation.

Yes, it is THAT GOOD.