Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

—1. Overview
—2. Reviews and Blogs

—3. Cast and Crew
—4. Photo Pages
—5. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—6. Posters
—7. Production Notes (pdf)
—8. Spiritual Connections
—9. Presentation Downloads

Say what you will, I loved it. Could there have been more surprises, more scenery, better this, better that? At times, perhaps. But in actuality, the movie looked very much like what I see in my head when I read the book. My pitiful little mind is usually not capable of conjuring up the full scope and vision of what we see in many films these days. Comparing it to King Kong, which I saw less than 24 hours before seeing Narnia, the vistas in Kong were far bigger and more breathtaking. Had I read a book of Kong, and read a description of this, I doubt my mind could have conjured up the same sense of scope. When I read a book, and something is described in words, my mind will usually tend to create a version of it similar to what I have seen in this world. It's much smaller, much more abstract. The scenery in this Narnia film may have been lackluster compared to Kong or even the GIGANTIC fantasy landscapes of the new Star Wars or Lord of the Rings, but that's pretty much what my mind sees when I read of it. So for me, it was like seeing what I had in my head all along. The extra bits that weren't in the book just made it more exciting, to top it off. The nice thing about a book is that it gives you enough stuff to draw you in and fill in the rest with your imagination. The best films do this, too. If there's too much crap on the screen you can't participate in the story. I was never distracted or confused by too many close-ups or chaotic movement, which was a weakness of some action scenes in Kong; it was simple, easy to follow, and beauftiful enough for me to be engaged and just enjoy it.

The real kicker for me was the little epilogue at the end, and the dialogue between the Professor and Lucy. The final image of the light peeking out and Aslan roaring made me literally weep for joy, and left me with the sense of awe I needed. If only the staging of this scene was better planned so more people could have seen it! By the time it came on screen, most of the audience had left. They should have had the Professor say, "Try me"....pause, fade to black, then fade in to that scene. THEN roll the credits. I've often joked about re-editing the original Star Wars trilogy to make the "Ken Edition" where I could have control over the changes I liked and didn't like. Perhaps I can do the same thing to the ending of this film.

Anyway, I thought the script was well-done, the characters developed well and the effects were fantastic, of course. Overall, flaws aside, it did what it should have. It re-affirmed my faith and belief in the great story behind all stories, and made me appreciate this world as a brief prelude to the magnificent world to come!

Another thing I want to point out is how much I appreciated the inclusion of opening up the film by setting it in the context of World War II, so that the history of this real war may be explained to children in a fantasy context they can relate to. The Pevensie children are sent away to the country to avoid the war, but instead they become engrossed in a war of their own. The real war taking place is theirs, too. I read an interview with Tilda Swinton and she remarked that she decided to play the White Witch as an Aryan Nazi. This puts the horror of the real war in perspective for the children and reminds us what we fought against when that happened. The Nazis were out to destroy the very race from which Jesus was a part of, thus it was another desperate attempt by the powers of darkness to destroy Christianity. Narnia reminds us that there is now, and has been in the past, a real war being fought, and that is worth remembering.

C.S. Lewis said that we, as fallen humans, need to be constantly reminded of what we believe. For that reason, I think he would have approved of this film, as a reminder, and a way to draw us back to his words, and hopefully the Word become flesh for us.


Tuesday, December 27, 2005

King Kong

—1. Overview (multimedia)
—2. Overview Basic (dial up speed)
—3. Reviews and Blogs
—4. Cast and Crew
—5. Photo Pages
—6. Trailers, Clips, DVDs, Books, Soundtrack
—7. Posters
—8. Production Notes
—9. Spiritual Connections
—10. Presentation Downloads

enlargeIt's late at night and I just got back from seeing King Kong in the theater and I am totally blitzed...still rather dizzy from the final scenes, a little queasy from too much popcorn, and emotionally drained from an amazing movie experience. So I will try to gather my thoughts, but this may seem a bit disconnected and stream-of-consciousness. Here we go...

Some things I noticed...the relationship that Anne had with Kong stemmed from the fact that her father had left her, which nobody else has mentioned. To me that was the main crux of the film, more than Stockholm syndrome it was more a case of her missing her father and performing partner...filling a void in her life. Perhaps this could have been emphasized more, but then maybe it would have made it too obvious. I thought there was an interesting juxtaposition between the characters mourning the loss of their companions and Denham mourning the loss of his film. What do we value more, people or things? There was so much emotion and beauty in this sad. The ice dancing was incredible...reminded me of Edward Scissorhands. You really felt that Kong was the tragic hero of the picture....he was the one to root for. Yet even when Kong was destroying New York I had flashbacks to 9/11, and then you have images of planes...hmmm, what does it all mean? I've been thinking how after 9/11 we suddenly have all of these movies being remade like War of the Worlds and King Kong which are representations of the fear that gripped people in the dawn of World War II....the whole idea of invasion and fear. There was a TV special once which described the original story of Kong as a metaphor for the white man's fear of the black man which was brought over like a slave from the jungles. In the 1930s, this racist attitude was sadly very common. Today some people have similar fears about other dark races coming over to invade us. There's lots of stuff going on in this film, but as I said, perhaps I'm not in the best mental state right now to make it sound intelligent. I'm actually rather's been awhile since a movie had this much effect on me. All I can think of right now is I miss the people who are no longer around in my life. The world is dark and scary, full of greed and guns and savages. I wish I could dance on the ice with my grandfather, or my grandmother. I miss them so much. But that's the beauty, praise Jesus, someday I'll be able to do that. This is what films are supposed to do, what art is supposed to do...make us long for Heaven. Strange that a giant ape could make my face wet right now and make me long for home. But it can.

—1. Overview