Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

Just took D and S1 to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Cinema packed, though fewer kids than you might expect. I wonder if it will draw more adults who remember it from childhood than kids who sell it in the playground. Not that the kids won't be selling it in the playground; they will, because it is very, very good. I laughed out loud at a Guardian writer (Polly Toynbee) up in arms a few days ago at the 'manipulation of children' in this film. The fear is justified only insofar as the film is good enough to make any child new to the stories an explorer of new worlds.

It's got the effects of The Lord of the Rings but is very different in atmosphere. Here the story is built on character, specifically on the character of children as they become responsible for their own decisions however much the choices they must make are thrust upon them rather than sought (now that's something worth talking about). The moral compass is the smallest, Lucy, still young enough not to be careful and conventional in her idea of right and wrong (played by Georgie Henley, a wonderful young actress; they could hardly keep the camera off her). The 'deviant', ie he who strays furthest from the path direct, is Edmund. The screenwriters have added a prologue which not only gives the setting (the Blitz), but also ecapsulates in one scene the essential family conflict: with father away, why should younger brother accept his elder in that position? Is Peter, the oldest, up to it? In fact, it is Peter and the second oldest, Susan, who struggle to take on the mantle of chivalric heroism asked of them (and of many others in 1940). As Susan says when told of the prophecy that has them not only as saviours of Narnia, but also as Kings and Queens of same, "But we're from Finchley". It is around these struggles towards adulthood and Edmund's 'single-parent family' behaviour, that the plot revolves.

Part of Peter's climb towards his role is the fight with one of the Snow Queen's police-wolves. The boy won't, can't make the first move and the wolf leaps. Silence, the wolf on top of Peter. A child's voice, full of grief and begging for solace sounded out over the auditorium. "Peter!?". Then Peter got up.

No comments: