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February 21, 2005

Will Disney destroy Narnia?

From the NYT:

Aslan, a talking lion with mystical powers, is the central figure in "The Chronicles of Narnia," the much-beloved seven-volume series of fantasy novels written by the British academic C. S. Lewis in the 1950's. By the year's end, if Disney marketers have their way, he will have joined Mickey Mouse, Pinocchio and Buzz Lightyear in a long line of characters that have periodically provided the Burbank giant with entertainment's most valuable asset, a new fantasy to trade on.

This next wave begins with the expected release on Dec. 9 of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which combines live action and computer-generated images in a movie adaptation of Lewis's epic. Sequels may follow. But films are only the spearhead of a corporate initiative that is likely to include a theme park presence, toys, clothing, video games and whatever other tchotchkes the infinitely resourceful Disney team can devise.

Being a great fan of C.S. Lewis (thus my choice of Nom du Blog, if you hadn't guessed) I'm uneasy about such an anti-family company as Disney taking on The Chronicles of Narnia. It's hard to believe they would respect the stories as they should be. Lewis was much more direct with his symbolism that his friend and fellow Oxford Don J.R.R. Tolkein. While the Lord of the Rings movies generated little friction for what some believe to be allegories of the Christian faith, were Disney to leave the original story intact, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would be condemned as evangelistic mush by the usual crowd of Christian haters, which Disney is often a part of. If nothing else it will generate great interest in the books themselves, which Disney can hardly do much about.

Posted by Jack Lewis at February 21, 2005 09:37 AM

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