‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ (Film)

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‘THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Welcome to Narnia

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“When Aslan bares his teeth, winter meets it death!”

‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ is one of my favourite series of children’s novels by C.S. Lewis. It all started with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ of course, but I soon read the other books too. This was because I enjoyed the live-action movie of ‘LWW’ made by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media.

This film of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ was released at Christmas, 2005. It’s well-adapted and well-directed by Andrew Adamson (director of ‘Shrek’ and ‘Shrek 2’). Having enjoyed ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy beforehand, I was looking forward to another epic movie experience.

I remember Christmas 2005 vividly. I was at my sixth-form college at the time and re-read ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ book before seeing the film at the cinema. I had a happy time seeing ‘LWW’ at the cinemas. I saw it five times in that period from Christmas 2005 to the New Year 2006.

‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is of course based on the book by C.S. Lewis, which was published in 1950. Over the years, the book has been adapted into stage plays; audio drama and into a BBC TV adaptation in 1988. Now it’s been made into a live-action movie, it’s a dream come true.

The story is about four children Peter; Susan; Edmund and Lucy evacuated from Blitz London in 1940 to the countryside to live with an old professor at his house. Whilst staying there, they come across a wardrobe that transports them to Narnia. There they fight against the White Witch and save Narnia.

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The film was originally released as a 2-disc set with the movie on Disc 1 and special features on Disc 2. It was re-released for Christmas 2006 as a four-disc extended edition. This means that the movie has been extended to ten minutes and features more of the world of Narnia in terms of its scenery.

I must admit, I’m a little disappointed with the extended version of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. It’s not like any of the extended versions of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films and there aren’t any additional special features like the Appendices to ‘chronicle’ the in-depth making of the movie.

Disc 1 contains the extended movie with additional scenes and features; Disc 2 contains ‘Two Worlds of Narnia’ (from the original DVD release); Disc 3 contains ‘C.S. Lewis – Dreamer of Narnia’ and Disc 4 contains ‘Visualizing ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’: The Complete Production Experience’.

There is also an information booklet that is a companion guide to the ‘LWW’ film. I didn’t find this booklet inspirational and helpful like the booklets for ‘The Lord of the Rings’ extended DVDs, although it does have some interesting behind-the-scenes info and a scene selection for the movie.

Onto the story then!

DISC 1 – EXTENDED MOVIE WITH ADDITIONAL SCENES AND FEATURES

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There’s an introduction by director Andrew Adamson about the extended version of the film.

It begins with the four Pevensie children caught up in the bombings of Blitz London in World War II. Very soon, the four Pevensies are sent away to be evacuated from London to live in the countryside.

The Pevensies arrive in the country where they’re picked up by Mrs Macready to be taken to Professor Kirke’s house. They find it hard to settle and wonder whether they’ll see their home again.

Jim Broadbent stars as Professor Digory Kirke. He’s a kind-hearted professor who mainly keeps to his study inside the house. But he also seems to know about the world that the four children enter into.

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William Moseley stars as Peter Pevensie, the eldest of the four children. William’s performance as Peter is great, as he balances the responsibility he has of looking after his siblings and saving Narnia.

Anna Popplewell stars as Susan Pevensie, the second eldest of the children. Anna is lovely as Susan, who tries to be grown-up and be brave when she and her siblings venture into the world of Narnia.

Skandar Keynes stars as Edmund Pevensie, the third eldest of the children. I enjoyed Skandar’s performance as Edmund, who seems such a brat when teasing Lucy and meeting the White Witch.

Georgie Henley stars as Lucy Pevensie, the youngest of the four children. Georgie is equally lovely as Lucy, who is the first to venture into the world of Narnia and has such a sweet innocence about life.

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Lucy discovers the wardrobe in the professor’s house when she and her siblings play hide-and-seek. I liked the design of the wardrobe in the movie, as it has pictures from ‘The Magician’s Nephew’ on it.

Inside the wardrobe, Lucy soon enters the world of Narnia. It was wonderful and uplifting to see Lucy amazed by the wonders of the wintry world that she had entered and it put a smile on my face.

Going further into Narnia, Lucy sees a lamp post in the middle of the wood. Very soon, Lucy meets a faun called Mr Tumnus who greets her; becomes friends with her and invites her for tea; cakes and sardines.

James McAvoy stars as Mr Tumnus the fan. I like James’ performance as Tumnus and the scenes that he has with Lucy. It turns out that Tumnus is about to kidnap Lucy and take her to the White Witch.

But Tumnus can’t do it and takes Lucy back to the Lamp Post where he met her so she can escape. Lucy returns to tell the others she’s been to Narnia, but they don’t believe her and think she’s lying.

Lucy goes back to Narnia again, this time followed by Edmund who follows into the wardrobe after her. He finds himself in the world of Narnia and meets the White Witch on her sleigh and reindeer.

Tilda Swinton stars as Jadis, the Witch Witch. She has ruled Narnia for a hundred years, claiming herself as the Queen. She has an evil power so that it is always winter and never Christmas in Narnia.

The White Witch has a dwarf as her slave called Ginarrbrik (played by Kirah Shah, who was a scale double in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ films). He’s fiercely loyal to his Queen and isn’t friendly to Edmund.

When Edmund meets the White Witch, she becomes friendly and almost motherly as she gives him Turkish Delight to eat. She persuades him to bring her siblings to her castle so she can meet them all.

Lucy and Edmund return from Narnia to tell Peter and Susan, but Edmund lies that they were playing and lets Lucy down. Soon Peter and Susan talk to the Professor who gives them words of wisdom.

Eventually, the four Pevensies find themselves going into the wardrobe and entering the world of Narnia. Lucy takes Peter; Susan and Edmund to see Mr Tumnus before they find his home ransacked.

They then meet a talking beaver called Mr. Beaver (voiced by Ray Winstone). He takes them to the safety of his home in Beaver’s Dam and there meet his wife Mrs. Beaver (voiced by Dawn French).

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I like Mr and Mrs Beaver as they’re two of my favourite characters in the book as well as the film. They’re both like proper husband-and-wife and it was fun to see the CGI animation of the Beavers.

The Pevensies have dinner with the Beavers, and are told that ‘Aslan is on the move’ and they are to be the new Kings and Queens of Narnia. Shocked by this, they soon realise that Edmund has gone.

Edmund has slipped away quietly to make her way for the White Witch’s castle. He doesn’t realise that the White Witch wants to kill her and her siblings, and is soon treated badly by her at the castle.

The White Witch’s castle is very impressive in the movie. It looks like it’s made out of ice and is very grim and foreboding. Inside the castle, there is a courtyard of stone statues and it feels cold indeed.

There are wolves who serve the White Witch, led by Maugrim (voiced by Michael Madsen), captain of the secret police. The White Witch sends them to hunt Peter; Susan and Lucy with the Beavers.

Soon Peter; Susan and Lucy escape with the Beavers as they make their way to where Aslan is waiting for them. It is a dangerous journey as the wolves and the White Witch are hunting for them.

Eventually, they meet up with James Cosmos as Father Christmas who has got into Narnia at last as the long winter comes to an end. Father Christmas gives gifts to Peter; Susan and Lucy for good use.

Peter is given a sword and a shield to fight in battle. Susan is given a bow and arrow and a magical horn to summon help. And Lucy is given a small dagger and a cordial of potion to cure any injuries.

I liked the action sequence where Peter; Susan; Lucy and the Beavers have to cross a frozen waterfall to safety. They get into trouble with Maugrim and the wolves, but soon find a way to escape them.

Eventually, Peter; Susan and Lucy arrive at Aslam’s camp where the army of fauns; centaurs; satyrs and many talking animals are mustered. They are to serve in Aslan’s army to fight the White Witch.

Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) is a great and powerful lion, the King of the Wood. He was the one who created Narnia in the first place and he guides the Pevensies to fight against the White Witch.

The White Witch also gathers the dark forces who serve her in Narnia. These include terrible; horrible creatures like the Minotaurs; Ogres; Cyclopes and Goblins, etc fighting for the White Witch.

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Soon Edmund is rescued by Aslan’s forces from the White Witch. But in doing so, Aslan is forced to sacrifice his own life by the Witch on the Stone Table. Will this be the end of Aslan forevermore?

Despite this, Peter has to lead Aslan’s army to continue the fight against the White Witch. I enjoyed the Battle for Narnia in the movie as it was uplifting and impressive. But will good triumph over evil?

The DVD special features of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ are as follows. On Disc 1, there are ‘The Bloopers of Narnia’ featuring comedic outtakes of the film and a ‘Discover Narnia Fun Facts’ pop-up commentary option to enjoy by co-producer Douglas Gresham, the stepson of C.S. Lewis.

There are also two commentaries for this film. The first one is with director Andrew Adamson and actors William Moseley; Anna Popplewell; Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley. The second one is with director Andrew Adamson; production designer Roger Ford and producer Mark Johnson.

DISC 2 – TWO WORLDS OF NARNIA

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On Disc 2, these are special features from the original 2-disc edition of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ and look into the making of the film. There are two sections including ‘Creating Narnia’ and ‘Creatures, Lands & Legends’. Both are interesting; innovative insights on the making of ‘LLW’.

In the ‘Creating Narnia’ section, there are two documentaries caked ‘Chronicles of a Director’ and ‘The Children’s Magical Journey’ which I found both very enjoyable and feature cast and crew interviews. The interviews with the four actors playing the Pevensie children are very entertaining.

There’s also ‘Evolution of an Epic’ that contains four sub-sections. This includes ‘From One Man’s Mind’ about C.S. Lewis. There’s also ‘Cinematic Storytellers’ that contains interviews with the behind-the-scenes making of ‘LLW’ including Richard Taylor – Weta Workshop; Howard Berger – KNB Creature Shop; Isis Mussenden – Costume Designer; Roger Ford – Production Designer; Don McAlpine – Director of Photography;  Sim Evans-Jones – Editor; Harry Gregson-Williams – Music Composer and Mark Johnson – Producer.

There’s also ‘Creating Creatures’ that contains documentaries on each of the creatures featured in Narnia. This includes the White Witch; Aslan; Tumnus; the Wolves; the Centaurs; the Minotaurs; the Ankle Slicers; Ginarrbrik; the Beavers; the Satyrs and the Goblins. There’s also the ‘Anatomy of a Scene: the Melting River’ which looks at the action sequence of the Frozen Waterfall in the movie.

In the ‘Creatures, Lands & Legends’ section, there is ‘Creatures of the World’ that contains documentaries on each of the creatures featured in Narnia. This includes the White Witch; Aslan; Tumnus; the Wolves; the Centaurs; the Minotaurs; the Ankle Slicers; Ginarrbrik; the Beavers; the Satyrs and the Goblins. This is a reversal from what ‘Creating Creatures’ was about from the ‘Creating Narnia’ section of this disc.

There is also ‘Explore Narnia’ that has an interactive map and a guide telling about each of the different places in Narnia from the Lantern Waste; to the White Witch’s Castle; to the Stone Table to the Battlefield to Cair Paravel. There’s also ‘Legends in Time’ that shows a timeline of Narnia and how it crosses parallel with England’s timeline in ‘LLW’ which was very interesting to follow.

DISC 3 – C.S. LEWIS – DREAMER OF NARNIA

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On Disc 3, there is a special full-length documentary about C.S. Lewis and how he created the world of Narnia and wrote the seven books in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. This includes his history from being a young boy; how he grew up in Oxford and wrote his Christian influence in the Narnia books.

There are eight chapters in this documentary that focus on specific themes on each of the seven books. These include the introduction; ‘Imagination’ with ‘Prince Caspian’; ‘Sorrow’ with ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’; ‘Evil’ with ‘The Silver Chair’; ‘Longing’ with ‘The Horse and his Boy’; ‘Love’ with ‘The Magician’s Nephew’; ‘Beauty’ with ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ and ‘Hope’ with ‘The Last Battle’. This is a very an impressive in-depth documentary about the Narnia books.

DISC 4 – VISUALIZING ‘THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE’: THE COMPLETE PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE

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On Disc 4, there is an in-depth look into ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. This is where you get to see the movie again, only with behind-the-scenes footage and interviews overlapping each of the scenes. It was an interesting and unique way of detailing how ‘LWW’ got put together in the end.

The ‘Visualizing ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” film is introduced by producer Mark Johnson. He explains what goes on in this full-length special feature and how it will be presented to viewers as it shows interviews; storyboards; pre-viz animations; behind-the-scenes footage; etc.

N.B.  This is on the original theatrical version of the movie, not the extended version on this DVD.

There are additional special features to this disc. There’s the ‘Anatomy of a Scene: Behind the Battle’ and there’s an ‘Art of Narnia’ gallery that includes three sections including concept art; landscapes and maquettes.

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‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ is a wonderful film from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ film series. I have very happy memories of seeing this film at the cinemas and would love to re-live those memories again, as I had such enthusiasm for this film and loved every aspect that was shown in it.

I was looking forward to seeing more books from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ series adapted into films by director Andrew Adamson and his remarkable team of film-makers. I was looking forward to seeing ‘Prince Caspian’ next as it was ‘only the beginning of the adventure’ in ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’.

‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ rating – 9/10


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