Saturday, December 31, 2005


I gave my 9 year old, 3rd grader son a copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe for Christmas. He has already consumed it. So, perhaps the entire boxed set of books should have been purchased. The books aren't expensive, but they are cheaper all at once rather than one at a time.

Perhaps the book should have been called The Wardrobe, the Witch, and the Lion, as that is the order that they appear in the story. Would that have been written by Lewis S. C.? Clearly, the writer wanted the lion to get top billing, rather than a box.

This particular purchase was inspired by the newly released movie by the same name. It could be pointed out that this isn't the first time the book has been made into a movie, just the first big budget production.

I had never read the books, but had read some other C. S. Lewis works, and had some idea what it might be about. So, though my 9 year old started reading it first, i borrowed it while he slept and finished it off. When he was finished with it, we saw the movie together.

It should be noted that the book isn't that long. In fact, it is about the same length as a screenplay. So, there is no need for the movie to cut anything. And, they didn't. They did add some explicit background at the beginning explaining why the kids were sent away that wasn't in the book. They added an exciting river scene as well. There were a small number of other minor changes.

One change made for the movie was that Aslan, the king lion, is supposed to be frightening as well as good in the book. Yet, no one is obviously scared out of their wits, even when seeing him for the first time. That certainly could have been done in the movie. Perhaps they wanted a true G rating. That's probably why the battle scene has so little violence and no gore at all. Compare that with The Return of the King. This is a choice, probably made for monetary reasons, but welcome for parents of smaller children who want to provide some entertainment for their kids.

As a modern, high budget film, the special effects were mostly excellent. We've come to expect this, and perhaps are spoiled. So, when they use a real dog and just animate the mouth for speaking, it looks so old school. This film has lots of talking animals. And, kids love that sort of thing, for no apparent reason.

The book/movie combination is a great combination. It is an opportunity for parents to read the book to their smaller children before letting them see the movie. For parents of slightly older children, promising to show them the movie after they've read it is a powerful incentive. The combination has special powers to improve reading enjoyment and comprehension, not just for this story, but for stories to come. I've followed this strategy with the first four Harry Potter Movies, when I read the book aloud. This is the first story where my son could reasonably read the book himself.

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