Today our church was asked by a local newspaper about the upcoming movie 'The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'. I thought it might help to post our reply here since it may or may not be published in the press. So here is our response.
Q: Several churches have tried to book cinema theatres to watch Narnia, some have tried to arrange for charity screenings. Is Hope Church Singapore doing something like that? Why or why not?
A: Churches in Singapore (including ourselves) have been invited by cinema operators to have private screenings.
Corporately we have Christmas services and small group events planned for December. Our focus will be on Christmas celebrations. Some of our church members have expressed their interest to watch the movie, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW).
Q: They also did so for Passion Of The Christ. Did you?
A: Yes we did arrange cinema screenings for the Passion of the Christ. We did so because the Passion of the Christ was based on an actual historical event. Then the timing of the movie was in line with Good Friday. Also it was an excellent visual portrayal for the last 12 hours of Christ.
Q: I also understand that many of your small groups are arranging to watch on their own time. What do you think is the appeal of Narnia?
A: Yes some of our small groups are arranging to watch the LWW together.
LWW is Walt Disney Pictures’ special-effects-filled adaptation of C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy about four British children who step through a magical wardrobe into the land of Narnia. LWW director Andrew Adamson ("Shrek," "Shrek 2") and his screenwriters have constructed a well-told good vs evil parable that is enhanced by computer-generated effects.
The appeal is in its fantasy/family/adventure genre. It's a kaleidoscopic vision of fanciful and colourful creatures, fantastic landscapes, and laugh-out-loud surprises. The atmosphere and look of the production are reminiscent of the magic Walt Disney himself brought to his best productions. What’s more, this Wardrobe fits adults as well as kids. Those who don't know the book won't find anything amiss.
There is also the Father Christmas character who gives gifts to 3 of the children (which ties in with Christmas in the eyes of kids).
Q: Does the fact that it is infused with Christian values play a role in its appeal?
A: Narnia is certainly infused with positive values. CS Lewis was the author of the Narnia series. He made no effort to hide his Christian faith. Many viewers will fail to recognise any allusions to Christianity. It is best enjoyed as a symphonic, delightful and timeless fairy tale.
Q: Do you hope to see more movies like Narnia?
A: With more and more movies focusing on violence, gratuitous sex and profanity, it’s refreshing to have a quality movie with wholesome themes. Yes we do hope to see more movies like Narnia. It has been said that film makers are the cultural prophets of modern society. That is why it is so important for Disney and other movie makers to continue to make quality movies with wholesome themes.
Q: On one hand, it must be good that people are making family-oriented movies for a Christian audience; on the other hand, are you worried about the commercialisation that comes along with it?
A: This is a family-oriented movie but it is not for a Christian audience. Micheal Flaherty, who co-founded Walden Media, says the LWW film is the book, pure and simple. “For me, the main themes in the book are family and forgiveness. We made sure they were there in the film.”
Adamson, the LWW director, adds, “We approached it as a story that is very much about themes of betrayal, forgiveness and loyalty. It’s about a family who feels disempowered by the terror of World War II and then finds their power again in Narnia. It’s a story about four kids who enter this land where they’re not only empowered, but where they’re ultimately the only solution to the war in that land. And it’s only through unity as a family that they can actually triumph.” LWW producer Mark Johnson gave this, “I think audiences will take away the most positive messages of belief, strength and family.”
There is some commercialisation that comes with any movie. At the same time wholesome entertainment do help people enjoy life and it’s a perfectly legitimate avenue to make an honest living.