Disney’s Take on Narnia

You’ve probably heard the buzz about Disney’s attempt at producing the big-screen interpretation of The Chronicles of Narnia. An article in the New York Times raises the issue of the work’s Christian worldview, vis-a-vis the “marketability” of the film. The whole commercial element of Disney’s motivation rubs me the wrong way, though of course they’re entitled to it:

Having been criticized for failing to cash in on the merchandising opportunities offered by 2003’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” Disney is preparing for the kind of all-encompassing drive it hasn’t mounted since 1994, when it turned “The Lion King” into a pop cultural event that still reverberates in its retail stores and on Broadway.

But the real issue — to the players in the story, including the author — is how “touchy” the matter of the Christian aspect is:

But this time, the pros at Disney are wrestling with a special challenge: how to sell a screen hero who was conceived as a forthright symbol of Jesus Christ, a redeemer who is tortured and killed in place of a young human sinner and who returns in a glorious resurrection that transforms the snowy landscape of Narnia into a verdant paradise.

I was amazed at how ignorant the author and Disney execs seem to be about the nature of movies and worldviews: namely, that every film has one. The idea that Disney “stays out of the culture wars” or is apolitical is preposterous. Just because a movie isn’t Christian doesn’t mean it doesn’t present a religion or particular worldview. Plenty of Disney movies have very clearly defined worldviews.

It’s just sad that people’s overfunctioning political correctness prevents them from enjoying/producing a perfectly great, redemptive work of literature, just because someone told them it was “Christian.” I’m hopeful that it will be faithful (no pun intended), but I’m not holding my breath – Disney’s track record doesn’t bode well (I challenge readers to give me some examples otherwise).

Now if Mel G. decides to make a version of Narnia…


  1. Ron said,

    February 22, 2005 @ 10:43 am

    One poitive note that doesn’t get much time in that Times article is that the company that is actually behind the production is Walden Media. They did develop a partnership with Disney, but from what I’ve read so far Walden is the company responsible for production decisions, while Disney primarily gets to market the film and the myriad products that will surrond the film. I’m sure we’ll be seeing Happy Meals featuring Aslan before long.

    Walden, by the way is the same company that produced Holes, which I understand was very faithful to the book. They seem to want to commit to faithful renderings of the children’s stories they put on film. They also have Douglas Gresham’s input (Lewis’ stepson) so it seems that an effort is being made to preserve the integrity of the book, including the message contained.

    I do have to say that I am vaguely bothered by the fact that Christianity has become just another marketing niche to be expoited by Hollywood. But, having said that, I’ll almost certainly still go see Narnia and hope that Cair Paravel doesn’t look suspiciously like Cindarella’s castle at Disney World.

  2. Ron said,

    February 22, 2005 @ 10:47 am

    I need to proofread before I post. The first line should be “positive” not “poitive”.

  3. keener said,

    February 24, 2005 @ 7:38 am

    What if Mel “B” (Brooks) made the Narnia movie? Now that has possibilities!

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