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©  2003 by Amelia Harper. All rights reserved



Picture courtesy of Disney Studios. All rights reserved. Used by permission

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: A Movie Review

By Amelia Harper

            It was with some trepidation that I viewed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the theatrical film version of the C.S. Lewis classic. Having loved the children’s classic for so many years, I was afraid that Hollywood would somehow spoil the enchantment of the Narnia that lived in my imagination.

            It does not.

            The movie does justice to the overall sense of Lewis’s most beloved children’s tale. Though there are some slight changes to the plotting and characterization of the some the creatures the children encounter, this does not detract from the overall wonder of the piece and seems necessary to keep the pacing of the film from becoming too slow.

            The special effects add greatly to the enchantment of the film without becoming too ostentatious. At the outset, I was concerned how such noble creatures as fauns, tree spirits, and talking beasts could be portrayed without seeming silly, yet the magic of special effects make this possible. These creatures blend in harmoniously with the world of Narnia and take their part bravely in the conflicts that follow. Aslan, the Great Lion, is a particularly splendid accomplishment. A sense of majesty, wisdom, and supernatural power exude from the lion, especially from his glorious mane. 

            Though no movie will ever capture the full impact of the beauty and truth of actual book, this one comes close. The essential elements of the story are there in all their mythic terror and sacrifice. Of course, those who have read the book will understand the message of the movie better, but the overall themes are easily seen in the movie itself. In one area, I felt that the movie seems to even outshine the original: in the presentation of the relationships of the children with one another. Unlike the book, the film begins with the children at home with their mother in war-torn England and better sets the stage for the choices that the children later make in the story itself. The child actors add to this effect with did their wonderful portrayals of the Pevensie children.

            The movie is rated PG for good reason. There are plenty of scary creatures and significant (beautifully filmed) battle scenes in the movie—scenes in which the Pevensie children themselves take part. Parents of very young children need to be aware of this. I think that most children over the age of seven will be fine with it, unless they are particularly sensitive to such images, but reading the book first with them would better prepare them for the movie: at least they will have some idea of the ending and so be less frightened. Of course, encountering such creatures in the written word is different from facing them on screen, so parents need to use judgment about how their own children are likely to respond.

            C.S. Lewis once was asked about writing such terrifying scenes for children. He said: “I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors [of childhood], and would succeed in banishing all that would ennoble them or make them endurable. For in fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones…” This film certainly captures that feeling marvelously.

            I found the previews before the film more frightening and wished that they had omitted the first preview for the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, which was quite terrifying. If you take your child to the theater, I would suggest waiting until that preview has passed. Here is another warning for you as well: the movie doesn’t end when you think it does. Stay seated after the credits begin to roll—there is a little more to come.

            Overall, I found the movie to be a visual feast and a cinematic treat with much to offer the whole family. It is a rare movie with a positive message and one that can open up discussions about the nature of courage and sacrifice—especially the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, who is represented to some extent in the character of Aslan. Whether you watch it in the theater or wait for its release on DVD, it is a movie that many families will want to view. Co-producer Douglas Gresham said that if this movie is successful, they will soon begin working on the next Narnian movie, likely Prince Caspian. I can hardly wait for the next one to appear.


Amelia Harper is the author of Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings, a one-year literature curriculum published by Homescholar Books. She is also the Contributing Media Editor for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, an international quarterly publication directed at homeschooling families. Amelia is also a pastor’s wife and the homeschooling mother of five.

Check Out Our Other C.S. Lewis Resources



Lewis Articles by Amelia Harper


Further Up and Further In-- a literature-based unit study for the seven Chronicles of Narnia


Other Lewis Resources for Sale


What's New in Narnia


An Interview with Douglas Gresham


The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe Unit Study

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