[Marxism] "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe"
lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 31 09:42:57 MST 2006
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was
directed by Andrew Adamson, who also directed "Shrek"--another children's
film that is meant to appeal to adults. The film was co-produced by Disney
and something called Walden Media, which was founded by Philip F. Anschutz,
a fundamentalist Christian supporter of the Republican Party and the CEO of
Qwest. The avowed purpose of Walden is to spread morally uplifting films to
children, especially those with a Christian theme, even if they are
contained subliminally as they are in the Chronicles
This is a story of four children--two boys and two girls--living in London
during WWII. Their mother ships them off to the countryside in order to
escape Hitler's bombs. They are put up in a labyrinthine mansion owned by
an aloof professor that is tended to by his irascible maid.
One day as the bored children are playing hide-and-seek, the younger girl
discovers a wardrobe closet to hide in. As she burrows through the fur
coats stored there, she eventually tumbles into a snow-covered forest just
beyond the closet's exterior. There she meets a faun who has been
instructed to kidnap her by the wicked White Witch who rules over this
realm called Narnia. If she was accompanied by a pet dog, one can imagine
her declaring, "Toto, I have a feeling we're not in England anymore."
Although C.S. Lewis was converted to Christianity by fellow Oxford don J.R.
Tolkein and was obviously inspired by the Fellowship of the Ring, the more
obvious literary antecedent is "Wizard of Oz". Instead of being transported
into a parallel universe by a tornado, these children have a much less
arduous path: through the back wall of a closet. Once there, they have to
complete an identical mission: kill an evil witch. In "Wizard of Oz,"
Dorothy joins forces with a three anti-heroes, while in the Chronicle the
children are allied with Aslan, the lion king of Narnia.
C.S. Lewis's film is drenched with Christian symbolism. Although Christ is
often symbolized by a lamb, he is also the Lion of Judah. Under the grip of
the White Witch, Narnia has not enjoyed a Christmas for 100 years--although
there's plenty of snow. If the White Witch is killed, you see, the snow
will end and spring will happily begin. In order for all this to transpire,
it is necessary for prophecies to be fulfilled. In one of them, Aslan will
have to sacrifice himself in order that one of the children, who has
betrayed the others by going over to the White Witch, be redeemed and saved
from death at her hands. (Although the White Witch is supposed to represent
consummate evil, it was hard for me to work up a head of lather since she
is played by Tilda Swinton, one of cinema's most appealing personalities.)
The film is pretty slow going until the final fight scene between the
Forces of Good and the Forces of Evil. Despite being eminently Caucasian
herself, all of the White Witch's minions seem to be rather dark-skinned,
just as the Orcs were in "Fellowship of the Ring." Gosh, I wonder why.
If it is meant as Christian propaganda, one has to wonder if it is
subverting its own goals through the inclusion of witches, fauns, centaurs
and other creatures drawn from the ranks of mythology. Furthermore, the
return of Christmas in this tale seems closer to the pagan roots of this
holiday than to celebrating Jesus' birth. After all, putting up a pine tree
as a symbol of the oncoming spring would owe more to Nordic ritual than the
sort of austere Anglican theology favored by Lewis.
In any case, I doubt that any child will be converted to Christianity as a
result of watching such a film. Speaking for myself, I found it entirely
harmless just as I find films based on Tolkein and L. Frank Baum harmless.
I do confess that there is something that does bother me a bit. Baum, you
will recall, was a newspaper man in South Dakota a decade before writing
"Wizard of Oz." In editorial after editorial, he lashed out at the Lakota
people and wrote the following on the occasion of the death of Sitting Bull:
"With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few
are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The
Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the
American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be
secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not
annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood
effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they
are. History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in
later ages of the glory of these grand Kings of forest and plain that
Cooper loved to heroism.
"We cannot honestly regret their extermination, but we at least do justice
to the manly characteristics possessed, according to their lights and
education, by the early Redskins of America."
Which brings me back to Philip F. Anschutz, the Christian co-producer of
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." Five
years ago, he was the CEO of an oil company before moving on to
communications. In this capacity, he decided that oil profits were far more
important than the rights of the same race that L. Frank Baum defamed.
"As remote as this place seems here in south-central Montana, a rambling
valley of sagebrush and towering rocks far from any town, one is never
truly alone. Looking on from scores of vantage points are colorful images
of men and animals, among other illustrations, that were painted on the
rock walls perhaps 1,000 years ago.
"Indian tribes that trace the presence of their ancestors here say they
believe the spirits of their elders remain, making these 4,200 acres about
50 miles south of Billings a sacred place to them. Their name for
Weatherman Draw is Valley of the Chiefs, and their oral histories teach
that even enemies dropped their weapons to share the valley in peace.
"Yet now, the valley and its fading ancient art are at the center of a
major conflict, one of the first that illustrates the kind of dispute that
erupts when the nation struggles to balance energy needs with environmental
and cultural concerns.
"In time, the conflict here might provide a model for resolving similar
conflicts throughout the West.
"Just a quarter-mile from the heart of the valley, a Denver company,
Anschutz Exploration, wants to explore for oil. Company officials say the
valley might sit atop as many as 10 million barrels -- 420 million gallons
-- making it a welcome addition to the country's fuel supply, said Bill
Miller, a company vice president.
"Anschutz is owned by Philip F. Anschutz, one of the country's wealthiest
businessmen and a major Republican donor."
"For more than seven years his oil company sought permission to drill here.
But it was not until February, after President Bush took office, that the
Bureau of Land Management approved one exploratory well."
(NY Times, June 22, 2001)
Fortunately, the Indians and their environmentalist allies were able to
block Anschutz's blitz. Now, there's a drama that cries out for a cinematic
treatment. We do face moral challenges in today's world, but the real
heroes are those who fight real world corporate domination, not fairy tale
witches and gremlins.
More information about the Marxism