To say the Christian world is excited about the ‘Narnia’ movie is an understatement. Churches are planning mass viewings of the movie, groups have created Narnia-pegged ‘outreach tools,’ and many Christians see the film as the greatest opportunity for evangelism since “The Passion of the Christ.” But strike one name from the list of prominent Christian supporters of putting to film C.S. Lewis’s classic tale: Lewis himself.
Of course, Lewis has been dead for 42 years, so we’ll never really know if he’d have been gaga over the new Disney film. But in a letter just posted on the web, he leaves little doubts as to his opinion of the notion:
I am absolutely opposed – adamant isn’t in it! – to a TV version. Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare.
After acknowledging that a cartoon version would be OK, he closes with this: “A human, pantomime, Aslan wld. be to me blasphemy” (emphasis mine).
Despite the vehemence, though, it’s still not clear how he’d really feel about the current ‘Narnia’ craze, of which his stepson, Douglas Gresham, is a producer and vocal booster. Lewis’s tirade against live-action Narnia came in 1959, well before the current advances in CGI filmmaking rendered it possible to create a plausible talking lion. As Micheal Flaherty, another ‘Narnia’ producer, told me in an interview that “the movie couldn’t have been made four years ago because the technology simply didn’t exist.” Is a realistic Aslan still blasphemy in Lewis’s eyes? We’ll never really know, but we’ll have to take Gresham’s word for it that his stepfather would have given his blessing to the Disney’s new ‘Narnia.’