Last night the family went to see Narnia. The Boo, who is grounded for reasons we won't go into, had not wanted to go, saying it was "for kids" (she is 13 years old). She promised to sulk the entire movie, and made sure we knew how displeased she was to be dragged along.
I was enchanted. Never before have I seen a movie so absolutely true to the book; so beautiful visually; and so well-acted and moving. I had read the books many years ago, and had forgotten how incredibly relevant they were now--especially as I heard Lucy and Peter argue that they could not possibly leave Narnia and its people to the destructiveness and malevolence of the White Witch. In a flash of insight, it occurred to me that the hostile reception of Narnia on the part of many of the "anti-Christian coalition" (see here for example) had less to do with the movie's underlying (Christian) theology/mythology (which I thought was not at all emphasized) than it had to do with what must have been their intense identification with Edmund, whose inner conflicts and whining bitterness with its concomitant desire for power (especially over his siblings) leads him to betray his family and Narnia to a cold and ruthless evil. Edmund's deliberate refusal to acknowledge what both he and Lucy see at the beginning of the adventure eerily parallels the present; and his redemption at the end was so well-done that even the most cynical among us could feel a spark of hope for the human race.
But I don't want to get too caught up in the movie's parallels with today. Basically, it is a story about good and evil. About the choices each of us make in confronting the world and coping with its unpleasant and painful realities. The opening scene of London being bombed and the Pevensie's reactions set the stage for the entire drama. Even sent far away into the calm and peaceful English countryside by a well-meaning and loving parent, the children are still confronted with the reality of good and evil; still have to make choices about which side they belong on and who they choose to love and support. These issues and conflicts are so well-dramatized in the movie, that--even though there were small children all over the audience--I did not hear a sound from them throughout.
At the end of the movie, the Boo turned to me with tears in her eyes and hugged me. "Thanks for making me come to see this, " she whispered, "it was an absolutely fantatstic movie."
Now, that is extraordinarily high praise coming from a teenager.
(PajamasMedia has a roundup of reviews; as does RadioBlogger)