babble home
rabble.ca - news for the rest of us
today's active topics


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
FAQ | Forum Home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» babble   » right brain babble   » culture   » So, are you taking the kids to see Narnia?

Email this thread to someone!    
Author Topic: So, are you taking the kids to see Narnia?
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 05 December 2005 12:11 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I loved the books as a kid, and even though I was raised in an evangelical church, I didn't 'get' the allegory at all, and I remember feeling that Aslan was kind of uninteresting and superfluous.

The Guardian has a pretty good comment on this.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
kuri
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 4202

posted 05 December 2005 12:29 PM      Profile for kuri   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
These were some my favourite stories as a young'un. I'd see if for the curiosity factor alone. Being raised in the most secular fashion possible, I'm sure any religious overtones flew right over my head (and possible those of my ultra-non-religious parents as well), so that Guardian article is interesting.
From: an employer more progressive than rabble.ca | Registered: Jun 2003  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7050

posted 05 December 2005 12:56 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm going! And heck! If I had some chiddin' I'd be taking them too. Not for the religious aspects, but just because as a kid I loved the books. I read them alongside the Lord of the Rings, so they hold a really special place in my nerdy heart.
From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 05 December 2005 01:20 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm planning to see it. I loved the books even though I didn't at the time understand what they meant. I was queasy about the Calormenians but I finally realized what he meant by the last book. However, I forgive him.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Boarsbreath
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9831

posted 05 December 2005 07:05 PM      Profile for Boarsbreath   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well I'm sure out of step! Raised totally secular (we attended United Church, but that's not inconsistent), but my mother read these to us and they were among the first books I read and I loved them.

Then years later, 18 or so, with much recent & mostly hostile thinking about religion, I re-read Lion, Witch for the first time since childhood. I'd forgotten any details of the plot.

But at one point in the book I began to be rivetted by the story, the very plot of the story, until I was almost manically fascinated...I wondered, even as I read, WTF? (forgive the anachronism). And then the stone table is found, split, and Aslan gone...and it came to me. It was the Passion.

I hadn't realised the allegorical intent, you see, as a child or by that reading, despite being familiar with Lewis' overtly religious books. And I wasn't any nearer to believing anything remotely religious. What had happened was purely literary: all the power of the Passion story -- the hero sacrificing himself by submitting to evil for the sake of a lowly person, or something like that (this was not very rational) -- had, in me, been invested in the Narnia story. The original Passion has never moved me in the slightest...but now, I figured, I could appreciate its power a little better.

The "allegory" was too good...

(For context, the only comparable childhood-story experience is the end of The Incredible Journey, where the eldest boy sees his old dog appear, finally, following the younger brother's setter and the sister's Siamese cat, over the rise in the road...I weep even now.)


From: South Seas, ex Montreal | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 05 December 2005 07:33 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If it has Reepicheep, I am going.
From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6477

posted 05 December 2005 07:52 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Reepicheep didn't show up until the second book. That review in the Guardian is pretty unbalanced. Why would they have someone who finds Christianity repugnant review a Christian allegory?

That said, Lewis disliked Disney's vulgarisation of the dwarves in Snow White. He and his friends recognised Disney's abilities, but wished they could have gotten hold of Disney at a young age and given him a better understanding of the northern mythology.

Before the Lord of the Rings movies came out Tolkien's son Christopher was quite negative about the whole thing. I wonder if he ever saw the movies and changed his mind?


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 05 December 2005 08:03 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Alison Lurie has written what you might consider a more favourable or 'balanced' review of the Narnia books. But I disagree with your point: I don't think that it's necessarily unbalanced to criticize the Narnia chronicles from a non-religious point of view. It's just an opinion, and it gave me some information that I appreciated.
From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6477

posted 05 December 2005 08:44 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If it was just non-religious, it could be neutral; but "repugnant" is the word she used and it is definitely not neutral; so of course she is going to pan all of the parts she sees as Christian.

She did have some interesting things to say, about the use being made of it by the religious right in the US. Still, the premise of these books is a heck of a lot better than that of the Left Behind books. You've got a definite love of nature in the books that I hope comes through in the movie.


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
Doug
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 44

posted 05 December 2005 09:38 PM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't wait to read what the CAPAlert people have to say about the movie. Showing Christ dressed up as a lion...blasphemy! Blasphemy!
From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
brebis noire
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7136

posted 05 December 2005 10:00 PM      Profile for brebis noire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Contrarian:
Still, the premise of these books is a heck of a lot better than that of the Left Behind books. You've got a definite love of nature in the books that I hope comes through in the movie.


Well, for one thing it was written in a totally different era. I don't think C.S. Lewis would even recognize the Religious Reich as properly Christian.

Also, I recently read with my kids a book by Philip Pullman - he's a children's author who harshly criticizes Lewis's series in the article - (Clockwork) and I thought it was pretty poor: overly scary and creepy but ultimately pointless.


From: Quebec | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Contrarian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 6477

posted 05 December 2005 10:14 PM      Profile for Contrarian     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
...I don't think C.S. Lewis would even recognize the Religious Reich as properly Christian...
He might be comfortable with some aspects, but I think he would find others appalling.

Neither Tolkien nor Lewis would have any sympathy for the corporations that cut down trees and poison the land. Just another work of Mordor.

Pullman's Golden Compass series is supposed to be very good; I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.


From: pretty far west | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
rsfarrell
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7770

posted 05 December 2005 10:50 PM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Contrarian:
Reepicheep didn't show up until the second book. That review in the Guardian is pretty unbalanced. Why would they have someone who finds Christianity repugnant review a Christian allegory?

Word. I about fell out of my chair when I read:

quote:
Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls.

Of all the stupid, culturally insensitive, ignorant things to say. I mean, that's just a baffling level of incomprehension.


From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Kassandra
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11267

posted 05 December 2005 11:16 PM      Profile for Kassandra     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm surprised that people still believe that subliminal advertising works. Why worry about the effects of a simple (and simple minded) children's story when explicit indoctrination is daily drilled into innocent children's heads.
From: Ontario | Registered: Dec 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boarsbreath
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9831

posted 06 December 2005 06:48 PM      Profile for Boarsbreath   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
NB to Doug: wait for The Last Battle, the last in the series (?), where a charlatan eventually working with the Saracens, I mean Calormen, makes a hapless donkey dress up in an old lionskin to be the Anti-Aslan...

(it's actually a powerful story, centering, to me, on the donkey)


From: South Seas, ex Montreal | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
ronb
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2116

posted 06 December 2005 07:17 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm actually in the middle of reading the Lion, Witch Wardrobe to the little one right now - I'm quite grateful that I read this article when I did, it tipped me off to the breathtakingly awful bit about women fighting which I pre-emptively snipped out. Hard to believe Lewis actually set out to write this for a female relative. Nice present. "You're a second class citizen, little girl." My daughter keeps wanting to know what Lucy's up to. I can't wait for the part where she gets to be the weeping Magdalen and then be shuffled to the sidelines while the boys do all the important work.

I'm sorry I started reading her this wretched series. Perhaps I can interest her in Wind in the Willows instead.


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 07 December 2005 01:04 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I read the books twenty-some years ago (I still have them all, except for my copy of The Last Battle, which I have unaccountably never been able to find, and given the depressing subject matter in it, every time I think about obtaining a new copy it slips my mind. ) and never saw the Christian references in it until years later.

I have the BBC-produced versions and will probably get the DVD of this new one (subtitles. ) when it comes out.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
FabFabian
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7496

posted 12 December 2005 01:32 PM      Profile for FabFabian        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So, did anyone go to see it this weekend? Loads of people did apparently. Has it been watered down? I want to know.
From: Toronto | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 12 December 2005 01:41 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, not very watered down at all.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Albireo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3052

posted 12 December 2005 01:44 PM      Profile for Albireo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I saw it, with my 9-year-old. I thought that it was an excellent adaptation. I think they did a fine job choosing what to include, and what to leave out. The sexist and other bothersome bits in the book are absent or buried. The casting is very good: the white witch is great, and the actors playing the kids are excellent; they are plausible as siblings and well-suited to their roles. It would be easy to have those talking animals seem completely ridiculous, but the film pulled it off as well as could be imagined. Thumbs up from me.

[Edited to add:] I agree with this from the Guardian piece:

quote:
This new Disney film is a remarkably faithful rendition of the book - faithful in both senses. It is beautiful to look at and wonderfully acted. The four English children and their world are all authentically CS Lewis olde England. But from its opening scenes of the bombing of their Finchley home in the blitz and the tear-jerking evacuation from their mother in a (spotlessly clean) steam train, there is an emotional undertow to this film that tugs on the heart-strings from the first frames. By the end, it feels profoundly manipulative, as Disney usually does. But then, that is also deeply faithful to the book's own arm-twisting emotional call to believers.
I also agree that the weaknesses in the film are a genuine reflection of the weaknesses in the book. If you can't suspend your disbelief to accept this notion of redemption through sacrifice, or these kids becoming Kings and Queens just because of some divine prophecy, then you'll have problems with the movie, but no bigger than you would with the book.

[ 12 December 2005: Message edited by: Albireo ]


From: --> . <-- | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged
bittersweet
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2474

posted 12 December 2005 01:49 PM      Profile for bittersweet     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's an article in the Chronicle of Education that compares what the writer thinks is in the Narnia books to what Philip Pullman thinks is in them. The Calormen defense seems weak, but those who've read the books recently will have a better idea. I enjoyed Pullman's own trilogy very much, but I have a gut suspicion that his criticism of Narnia is over-the-top and silly.
From: land of the midnight lotus | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 12 December 2005 10:35 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My review of the movie:

http://politblogo.typepad.com/politblogo/2005/12/movie_review_th.html


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 44

posted 13 December 2005 06:29 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Doug:
I can't wait to read what the CAPAlert people have to say about the movie. Showing Christ dressed up as a lion...blasphemy! Blasphemy!

Okay, here it is!

http://www.capalert.com/capreports/chroniclesofnarnia-lww.htm

quote:
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may be described as a magnificent and beautiful, intricate creative work of geniuses in many talents. But it appears to be a blend of what may be cautiously paralleled with the Gospel mixed with paganism and maybe Gaiaism.

Shocking!


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
stupendousgirlie
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 11076

posted 13 December 2005 08:51 AM      Profile for stupendousgirlie     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I saw it last Friday. I liked it. However, all I can say is THANK GOD DISNEY DIDN'T MAKE THE LORD OF THE RINGS!

This was harmless fare.


From: Wondering how the left can ever form a national government | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged
rsfarrell
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7770

posted 13 December 2005 09:17 AM      Profile for rsfarrell        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Doug:

Shocking!


Why quote, when they have provided a handy graphic which explains everything:


From: Portland, Oregon | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
thwap
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5062

posted 18 December 2005 11:15 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I saw it.

I'd seen the trailer when i was REALLY HIGH and it looked great. Unfortunately, I wasn't buzzing as much as i'd a liked to and the movie came off a bit of a dud.

The film is pretty faithful to the story but it's a better written than filmed tale. In the writing, in a few short paragraphs, Lewis could make you sense that hours had gone by, whereas in the movie, when Lucy comes out of the wardrobe shouting "I'm all right! I'm here!" (thinking she's been gone for hours but it's only been seconds) you feel that she'd only been gone a few minutes herself.

The scene on the stone table, they've really done an admirable job, but the whole cruelty and sadness of the scene come out so much better in the book.

And Aslan and Maugrin the Wolf (Chief of the Secret Police) should have both had much deeper voices!

It was just OKAY.

Here's an interesting review of the movie that also discusses C.S. Lewis's hobby-horses themselves:

fheialievnewoeindkel


quote:
Lewis' friendship with J.R.R. Tolkien, which sparked the Christian conversion that won him immortal celebrity, had cooled to ice. His surrogate mother-figure, Janie Moore, was sinking into vicious senility, prompting memories of his real mother's death when he was 13. His brother, Warnie, was diving into the shallow magic of a booze bottle.

Note: I don't think there's a "God" and Lewis's religous stuff, and his ridiculous Tolkien-inspired love of royalty and hierarchy are problematic for me, but i still appreciate a good story.

Now to read Mandos's review....


From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 18 December 2005 11:20 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I took my son last night, because he really wanted to see it, and it was the only movie appropriate for his age playing at the moment that I felt I could tolerate. (God, no Harry Potter, please no Harry Potter, ple...)

I was expecting to be bored through it, but I enjoyed it! I've never read the books. Yeah, the whole loyalty to royalty thing bugged me, but hey. It's a fairytale - whatreyagonna do?


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
thwap
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5062

posted 18 December 2005 11:29 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ah yes! Your son! How did he like it?

Do you know what scares me right now? That Albireo's kid could probably kick my ass for real now, and not just like i let him kick my ass at AE's party!


From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 18 December 2005 11:41 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
He loved it. And I think since I've never read the book, as you have, it was easier for the scenes to be very powerful for me.

Do you know - I have no idea why, but I felt very weepy at the bomb shelter scene and then the train scene. What a tear-jerker I found that part of the movie. Not sure whether it's because that scene was particularly good, or because I was particularly vulnerable that night for some reason.

The sacrifice scene was powerful for me too, but I was a little bit distracted from it by glancing at my son to make sure he was okay through it.

He still talks about you and ephemeral occasionally, you know. We saw a Nunzilla toy at a game store in Kingston, and he said, right away, "That's the toy they had at that Canada party!"


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
thwap
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 5062

posted 18 December 2005 11:51 PM      Profile for thwap        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I don't know what it would be like to see the story that way for the first time.

eph said she liked it.

re: the bombing scene, it isn't in the book. It's said very rather of factly that the children had come to the house as part of that whole program of getting away from the bombing.

It was very nice in the film though, that they invented Edward going back for his father's picture and Peter completely misunderstanding him. In the book he's really just a selfish kid. You still don't hate him because his childish rationalizations are laid-out for you by the narrator. In the film though, he'd be just a lousy rat without the touches they add.

Back to the bombing; the sheer weight of the Second World War and the drama of that time are still effective. For a good look at the experience of London during the Blitz, I'd recommend "Hope and Glory." It's about the war seen through the eyes of a boy in a family of lower-middle-class, good-looking morons. I found the whole family insufferable, but all my college fine art professors from 1986 were quite taken with it. (From London, almost the whole damned lot of them! )


From: Hamilton | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 888

posted 18 December 2005 11:58 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm still blown away by the Tilda Swinton's presentation of the White Witch.

"In that knowledge, despair...and...DIE!"

Line delivered perfectly, followed by look of elated relief.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2116

posted 21 December 2005 04:18 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I loved Hope and Glory, what an amazing movie. It's right up there with the 400 Blows for me.

I took the daughter to see the Narnia movie. She loves the character of Lucy utterly, so she was absorbed, I was interested to see that the filmakers had subtly changed virtually every element in the book. A few examples: The cricket ball through the window. Chasing Edmund all the way to the White Witches door before turning tail to find Aslan. The tunnel escape from the Beavers. Even Father Christmas's exit was noticable different, although the subtext of his "Girls fight ugly" was still very much there to my eyes. Susan's participation in the battle- obviously also a deviation from the book - drew guffaws from the audience we were with, so badly stitched in was it.

But my favourite change was one that stymied my 6-year old while we were reading the book. As soon as Aslan died, she said "Lucy can use her potion!" She was delighted to see that glaring plot inconsistency addressed in the movie.


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Fed
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 8926

posted 21 December 2005 04:33 PM      Profile for Fed        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My 11 y.o. daughter wanted to see it a second time, so she really liked it.

I think it is a lot like Lord of the Rings, in the Good vs. Evil /epic battle / knights in armour/ thing. But because there is next to no blood in the battle scenes it is probably better for the younger kids.

I was a big fan of the books at my daughter's age. As a general rule, whenever someone films a book I always prefer the book---because you can imagine it "your way" instead of the way the director films it. And I usually like "my way" better.

All in all, a good movie, especially for the kids who are a little young for the heaviness of Lord of the Rings. For them, it is a good intro to the fantasy genre.


From: http://babblestrike.lbprojects.com/ | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
retread
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 9957

posted 21 December 2005 11:07 PM      Profile for retread     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Haven't seen the movie yet, but we're going to go as a family. I've read the book to the kids (couple of years ago actually ... wonder how much they'll remember ... though they've probably talked about the movie with friends anyway).

As was said, its a fairy tale for kids, and the book at least is pretty good. They can think about the politics later on when they're older, a few good stories about kings and magic and so aren't going to hurt them.


From: flatlands | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 22 December 2005 02:10 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Contrarian:

Before the Lord of the Rings movies came out Tolkien's son Christopher was quite negative about the whole thing. I wonder if he ever saw the movies and changed his mind?

Or, possibly, saw the movies and *didn't* change his mind?
I had a grand time with those movies, but there was enough annoying stuff that if I were even closer to the books than I am I might have found them rather difficult to live with. Fellowship had a few annoying things. Two Towers had rather more, although most of it was so impressive that I don't generally squawk about them much. And Return of the King's entire first half (or so) would have been better scrapped and redone, or at least massively re-edited. The second half was so awesome that I mostly forgave Peter for the first half, but Christopher Tolkien might not.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 22 December 2005 03:10 PM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by thwap:

Note: I don't think there's a "God" and Lewis's religous stuff, and his ridiculous Tolkien-inspired love of royalty and hierarchy

Say what?
Tolkien-inspired love of hierarchy?
I think not. Royalty, yeah . . . but I think if you look at Lord of the Rings with any degree of care you will see little affection for chains of command, or even unthinking obedience to those same kings.

The Shire has various officers, like a mayor and, technically, a thane--but you will notice that the offices seem vestigial. The Shire is generally pretty close to an anarchy. There is money, and some social stratification, but no real law and order, social control, taxes etc.
Similarly if you look at the elves, there's generally a couple of personages that everyone pays attention to. But it's unclear that there's anything resembling class, money, private property, or any way to stop elves from just wandering off if they don't like what's happening in Rivendell or Lothlorien. Authority seems almost purely a matter of personality and perceived wisdom/knowledge. People are used to this stuff now--it's just how elves "are", part of the background. But before Tolkien, there wasn't really a "how elves are"; he didn't *invent* them exactly, but he sure as hell constructed them, and he might well have done it differently.

Humans do tend to have hierarchies--but to the extent that lessons are put forward about them, the main one is in the contrast between the Rohirrim and the people of Gondor: The former tend to ignore orders when they think the orders make no sense, while the latter believe in blind obedience as a virtue. The way the plot operates, the Riders' thinking for themselves saves the day at least twice, maybe three times, while the people of Gondor's insistence on blind, disciplined obedience nearly gets Faramir killed and probably does lead to Theoden's death. This is commented on more than once--the intent seems clear. Chust Followink Orders does not cut it. Authority is of less importance than individual ethical judgment.

For that matter, the hobbits (other than Frodo) get involved in the fellowship through acts of unruliness or disobedience, pushing into a council they were not invited to and insisting over the objections of those in authority that they will go. Again, it seems clear that bad stuff would have happened if they had not carried their point. Shall we get into the everyman theme involved in having hobbits as heroes in the first place? Shall we get into the Scouring of the Shire, an exercise in populist revolt which, while sparked and co-ordinated by the main characters, is all about how the people have the power to overthrow oppression if they only become aware of it?

Tolkien love of hierarchy . . . arrrggghhhh!!

. . . sorry for the drift. I like the Narnia stuff OK, but it's really not on the same scale as LoTR by any measurement I can think of.
One thing you have to be careful of is that the Narnia books are really quite variable. They're not connected that closely to one another, and some are much better than others.
The Magician's Nephew is, chronologically, the real first one and it's quite weird. It's darker than most of them, and quite slow in places, but oddly interesting. One of the characters is the White Witch before she became the White Witch--oddly, although she's if anything even more dangerous than the White Witch of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (she apparently killed all life on her original world by speaking the Deplorable Word), she is somehow not exactly conventionally evil; there's something pre-monotheist about her, pre-morality even, and one part of the book seems to be about entangling her into the whole Christian-ish setup and turning her into a more conventional Bad Guy. It's very strange.
Prince Caspian is just OK. There's nothing too much about it I found very memorable. Same goes for A Horse and His Boy. It's moderately fun, the Christian stuff doesn't stomp on the page as much (which is not to say there ain't a Moral Of The Story--there is, but it's fairly conventionally ethical rather than religious as such), but I don't really remember that much about it or remember being incredibly impressed. It's a decent read.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I'll forgive all the moralizing for Reepicheep, the swashbuckling mouse. It's got some semi-heavy Christian stuff and generally steps on the page a lot with the morals, but there's some really fun stuff in there too.
The Silver Chair I really thought was quite good. People don't talk about it as much as some of the others, but it's really worth reading. I liked it quite a lot. Aslan isn't in it. The characters come closer to three dimensions. The plot is interesting and has no Deus saving the day (ex machina or otherwise). Some of the thematic stuff works well, with what I find to be more thoughtful ethical ideas worked out way less heavy-handedly. And there are some interesting pure fantastic elements. It's a good read, well worth a look.

The Last Battle sucked. It's heavy handed, there's little interesting going on, what there is of plot is basically pointless because nothing the characters do matters. At the end there are a couple of interesting religious points made, but I don't think they're worth wrapping a whole book around. They might have made decent footnotes in The Screwtape Letters or something. Don't read The Last Battle. If you need to know about it, read the first few pages to get the setup, then skip to the end and read the religious stuff, which is actually kind of interesting on its own terms.


From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 518

posted 22 December 2005 04:02 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually, I think Lewis's love of hierarchy comes from his work as a specialist in the history of the middle ages.

"Narnia" is itself the name of a famous battle involving massed cavalry carrying spears and bows, and several of the books evoke the Christian struggle against the Muslim powers (who don't believe in Aslan.)

When I saw the movie version recently, the way in which the forces were arrayed, the tents with coloured banners, etc, etc, reminded me immediately of the "Song of Roland", an epic which tells of a Christian battle with the Moors in Spain.

The bottom line is that I think Tolkien, however Christian he is as an individual, writes pagan myth. Lewis writes Christian allegory.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Jacob Two-Two
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2092

posted 22 December 2005 04:27 PM      Profile for Jacob Two-Two     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Go Rufus! I agree totally. To expand on a point of yours, it's interesting that it is the hobbits' lack of respect for authority and insistence on making their own ethical choices that actually causes Elrond to make the decision to allow them to accompany the quest, which makes no sense at all by any normal standard of logic. That is, their unwavering loyalty to their friend regardless of his orders convinces him that they can make a contribution beyond their strength or skill, which of course is exactly what happens.
From: There is but one Gord and Moolah is his profit | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
ronb
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2116

posted 22 December 2005 06:24 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We're in the middle of Horse and His Boy right now and the racism is right on the surface. The inherent nobility of the "fairer Northern" races comp[ared to the shifty eyed dark turban wearing southerners is just embarassing. I keep editorialising as we go, just to offset the awful subtext. Did I mention how distraught I am that I embarked on this?
From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
Rufus Polson
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 3308

posted 23 December 2005 03:51 AM      Profile for Rufus Polson     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, yeah, I forgot about that stuff. Horse and his Boy is about the worst for that, except maybe The Last Battle, which is all about them devil-worshippin' ay-rabs and their unprovoked jihad against the good northern white boys.
From: Caithnard College | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 7050

posted 23 December 2005 11:04 AM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jeff house:
Actually, I think Lewis's love of hierarchy comes from his work as a specialist in the history of the middle ages.

Yeah, that generally happens to us...


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged

All times are Pacific Time  

Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | rabble.ca | Policy Statement

Copyright 2001-2008 rabble.ca