October 17, 2005

The Mouse as Judas

[please note: this post is about the marketing of the film, not the film itself, which I have not seen.]

Quick: What movie does this describe?

"This story is about four kids, disempowered by the war in their own world, World War II, who enter this land where they're not only empowered, but they're ultimately the only solution to war in that land. And it's only through betrayal and forgiveness and finally, unity as a family, that they can overcome those odds... We're taking the story of a family, and exaggerating it to the level of the battle between good and evil. But at its heart, it's still a very personal story."

"This story" of Andrew Adamson is not one I would easily recognize, even though I've read it through several times as a child, and later as an adult.

Adamson's quote comes from the Educator's Guide, to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a 15-page PDF that literally misses the point of the source material entirely. There is not one reference to Lewis' background as one of the greatest Christian writers and apologists of all time, nor of the importance and power of the story as Christian myth.

Adamson, devotes quite a bit of his time and quite a bit of Walt Disney's money to ignoring the fact that this series by C.S. Lewis is one of the greatest Christian stories told in the 20th century.

When I heard that they were having a go at the C.S. classic Chronicles of Narnia I was both excited and filled with trepidation. I was worried they would botch the script, and that they would rip the Christian not-quite-an-allegory (Lewis called it a "supposal") that is The Lion... to shreds in an attempt to be politically correct.

To be honest, we still don't know how or what they did with the actual film, but their marketing of the film so far is chilling...

Last week, I attended a “sneak peek” of the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, put on by Disney for local pastors. The purpose of the event was to encourage pastors both to encourage their congregations to see the movie, and to the release as an outreach opportunity.

But what are they getting at?

This is all an attempt to replicate some of the success of The Passion of the Christ, which has made something like 600 million dollars primarily by marketing to church groups.

As I said yesterday, I think this is going to be a great movie, and I look forward to seeing it. But I have two main concerns about the marketing effort:

1) The people that are making and marketing the movie are non-Christians who have no concern whatsoever for the promotion of the gospel, except that they have now realized that there is a lot of money to be tapped into in the church...

Disney is willing to sell out Christ for coins. That sounds familiar.

You should click over to FoolishBlog to read Eric's full concerns about some of the things surrounding film, which are troubling, and to my mind, justified.

Mel Gibson had wonderful success with a movie about Jesus Christ. Andrew Adamson and Disney would appear to deny Christ's role in this series, despite author Lewis's own clear intent:

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book of the series, Aslan tells the children that although they must return to their own world, they can find him there also (Hooper 123). Aslan says, "There I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there" (Hooper 123). Some of Lewis' readers wonder what the significance of this statement is and begin to search for Aslan here on earth. Hila, an eleven year old girl from the United States asked Lewis what Aslan's name is in this world (Dorsett 31-32). His response was this:
As to Aslan's other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1.) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2.) Said he was the son of the great Emperor. (3.) gave himself up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4.) Came to life again. (5.) Is sometimes spoken of as a Lamb.... Don't you really know His name in this world. Think it over and let me know your answer! (Dorsett 32)

When Lewis' readers find Aslan in the real world, they will find out that his true name is Jesus Christ. And when this occurs, Lewis is successful at opening a person's heart to accepting Christianity.

The Mouse seems more than willing to take Christian money, but not before betraying the essential Christianity that runs in, around, and through this series of books.

Disney had a wonderful opportunity to share a wonderful story with the world, and if the director's all-too-P.C. slant in the marketing materials is any indication of the slant of this movie, then they have failed their audience and the intent of the author by half.

I had great hopes for this film, but right now those hopes are only running on faith.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 17, 2005 12:33 AM | TrackBack

A different take.

[edited by siteowner to embed the link]

Posted by: Huw Raphael at October 17, 2005 01:02 AM

I had hoped that the involvement of Lewis' stepson Douglas Gresham would lead to the retention of the spiritual and allegorical aspects of the story. The trailer clearly shows top-class production values...but (as with Miers) we're in the position of having to take faith on faith.

Posted by: Watchman at October 17, 2005 07:11 PM