Door 3 of The Fourth Annual James Proclaims Advent Calendar of Christmas(ish) Films and we’re off to a magical land.
Narnia to be precise.
Today’s film of choice is 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is far too long a title. It’s based on the novel entitled The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which s part of a series of seven books called The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Presumably the film’s title was designed to alert people unfamiliar with the books that there were more movies to come in the series. And indeed there were, with Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader also later adapted as part of the series.
From what I recall from reading the books as a child, they were the best three, although I believe there were originally plans to adapt more of the novels, but that challenge has now been taken on by Netflix, with all seven novels due to feature on that platform at some point in the future. I expect they’ll be worth a watch.
However, if you only wanted to dip your toes into Narnia’s crystal blue waters, and were therefore only to read or watch an adaptation of one of Lewis’ stories then The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe would presumably be the best choice. It was the first one he wrote and consequently works the best as a stand-alone story, whereas most of the others work better if you know something about the series as a whole.
The 2005 movie is a pretty good effort. Coming off the back of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy there was a certain inevitability to a silver screen version of the Narnia books, but it is done well enough. Tilda Swinton steals the show as the White Witch, but the four children succeed in not being irritating, which is more than some movies manage.
Perhaps not the most ground-breaking movie you’ll ever see, but this could have been a lot worse.
Score for Christmasishness
While not explicitly set at Christmas (indeed the parts set in the real world seem very much to be summertime), most versions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have a Christmassy feel to them and this is no exception. Obviously there is a lot of snow in Narnia, what with it being “always winter and never Christmas”.
But how can this movie be considered Christmas(ish) if it’s “never Christmas”. Well, because that is only the status quo at the beginning of the movie. It’s not long before Father Christmas shows up and hands out some, admittedly less-than-appropriate, gifts to the children. And any movie that features Father Christmas deserves to be considered a bit Christmas(ish).