Much is being made of a letter by C. S. Lewis in which he offered the opinion that no live-action film of "The Chronicles of Narnia" should ever be attempted. It should be remembered, however, that Lewis died in 1963. He probably expected Aslan to look like Bert Lahr. He had no way to anticipate the state of the digital moviemaker's art as of 2005. But then, who did?
Last night, thanks to the generosity of my friend Jerry Page, my family and I saw an advance screening of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe." I wouldn't presume to say whether Lewis would be satisfied, although I certainly hope so. The capacity crowd who saw this screening at Phipps Plaza certainly were.
Nor can I speak to the movie's fidelity to its source: I've read the book, but it's been decades, and I remember only the broad outlines of it. But it certainly felt right.
The transition from the wardrobe interior to the snowy forest and the lonely lamp-post was exactly as I've always envisioned it. The children were a little younger than I'd pictured them, but I can't fault their letter-perfect performances. The White Queen was as icy as a human actress can be. Aslan was... well, Aslan.
"Narnia" seems ready to step into the "epic fantasy series" niche recently vacated by "Lord of the Rings." The producers have optioned all seven books, which should take care of our Christmases through 2011.