Don’t take young children to see "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," unless they’re inured by heavy television watching to violence and cruelty. My opinion? The movie is for children 10 and up. Younger children should stick to the books.
Not that the brutality of the movie is literally depicted—on the contrary, nary a drop of blood is on view. The camera cuts away just before every lethal blow. But the tale, originally told by C.S. Lewis in his book series, concerns the battle between life and death. And the struggle between the forces of the evil White Witch and Aslan’s army is thunderous and terrifying. My daughter, Isle Miller, 13, thought the battle went on too long. Overall, she thought the movie was good, not great.
For those of you unfamiliar with the books, the plot involves four British children during World War II. With London under siege, their mother sends them off on a train to seek sanctuary in the country—a wrenching scene in itself. Having arrived at the estate of a reclusive professor and his draconian housekeeper, the children soon discover a large, abandoned wardrobe in an unused room, which becomes a threshold to the land of Narnia, where the inhabitants have been imprisoned in an unending winter for the past 100 years. The resident fauns, talking beavers, centaurs and otherworldly creatures suffer at the bloodless hands of the evil White Witch, waiting for the return of Aslan, a powerful lion who will bring back warmth to the kingdom.
If this sounds like children’s fare to you, be advised that Tilda Swinton, as the White Witch, makes the most frightening evil female ever portrayed in an adventure epic, with the serpentine hiss and hypnotizing stare of an albino snake. Whether or not your children are aware of the religious metaphor intended by Lewis, the scene in which the beloved Aslan lets himself be taken by the horrible, repulsive minions of the White Witch, then humiliated and ritually murdered, is profoundly moving.
But all comes out right in the end, and older children will appreciate the sweeping, swashbuckling adventure of this gorgeously rendered tale. Kristin Gehring