Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

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Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Clive Staples Sibelius » Jan 17, 2011 11:27 pm

These have been on my mind recently. I have watched the film three times now, with very little change in my opinion. There is a lot wrong with the film, but there were three particular moments that really made me cringe. They were the "Christian" moments in the film. The reason for the quotation marks is that I really don't consider them very Christian --rather, as I ague, mockings of Lewis' Christian themes. So what are they?

1) "We have nothing if not belief." -Reepicheep (replying to Lucy's query as to there really is such a thing as Aslan's Country).

Here's my problem with it: Besides being phrased in the most cliche-efficient way possible, the underlying idea here seems to be yet another case of "well, you just have to have faith." Now, there's nothing wrong with faith. I mean, it's a central beacon of Christian belief, right? My problem with the message is that, in general, films treat faith as just a belief and hope and that all believers have to ignore anything resembling logical and scientific evidence that contradicts their faith. A case in point is found in Joss Whedon's otherwise excellent TV series Firefly when one of the main characters starts Jefferson-izing the bible; that is, cutting out all the parts that are "contradicting" and "illogical." The preacher character calmly explains that one must not "cut up the Bible" because one must merely "have faith." In other words, filmmakers use this trope as a way of saying that belief in God has no basis in reality and must just be "believed" illogically. For those of us who have read CS Lewis' works on Christianity, could we really reduce Lewis message in VDT to "just have faith"? It seems a shallow hollow catch-phrase thrown into the film to placate the "Christian fanbase," just in case they wanted to protest the secularizing of the film.

2) The appearance of the albatross in Dark Island.

This was by far the most cinematically painful part of the movie to watch. I sat horrified (on three occasions) as the film parodied the book. I was DEEPLY offended by the way it was done. Here's what the film gave us, according to me: In the midst of chaos, Lucy prays to Aslan to save them. This is great, right? Then BAM, the Albatross appears, complete with cheesy inspirational music, then disappears, then things go on as before. It was SO painful to watch. In what way did it make fun of the book? Well, in the book Lucy prays and the albatross leads them out. Now the way I read it is that there is a sense of joyful relief---the albatross really is leading them out of danger. In the film it's just: "Please, Aslan...oh look, a bird!" If I was going to cut anything out of the movie, this scene would be my first pick.

3) "There I have another name."

A big deal has been made of the inclusion of this line from the book. It's as close to direct-quoting from the book as we are ever treated. Doug Gresham fought tooth and nail to get into into the movie, for which I am grateful. But really, on my first viewing it whizzed past my attention---and I was LOOKING for it! There'se nothing wrong with the line. It's what surrounds it which is unlike Aslan and Narnia. Caspian talks to Reep about "deserving" to go to Aslan's Country, and Aslan tells Reep that his country was made for "noble hearts." I'm not sure what the full implications are of these lines, but on the surface they seem to oppose what Lewis wrote. But it remains that Aslan's powerful line from the book, though kept, is greatly diminished by the surrounding dialogue.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby MinotaurforAslan » Jan 18, 2011 12:50 am

Thank you! You could not be more correct. The "Christian" moments in VDT were sadly, not very Christian.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jan 18, 2011 2:23 am

I didn't expect the film to be absolutely 'Christian'. After all, like all the other Narnia stories, VDT is supposed to be a supposal, not an allegory. Even if it was allegorical, VDT doesn't have to repeat Christian truths verbatim. Furthermore it is a lovely, glorious fantasy, that I am delighted to see reproduced in an endearing movie.

Nor am I happy that suddenly we have a whinge about a 'humanistic' view of Narnia, on other threads, looking for yet another reason to criticize this movie. Precisely what is 'humanism' to the disgruntled grumblers? And what did they expect to happen instead? Dufflepuds breaking out into a tap-dance? A begone foul rodent and repent ye of your pride to Reepicheep? Aslan saying verbally, no Eustace, you really have to grovel a lot more, before I undragon you? These are lovely scenes adapted from the book, that would be ruined forever by the more punitive and Inquisitorial version that seems to be what people hoped for.

And yes, we have nothing if not belief. It is only belief that allows me to persevere with my existence, that a few people at least still love me, need me and will occasionally listen to me. My understanding of 'humanism' is that it is something Philip Pullman would endorse in his anti-Narnia Golden Compass, for example. And at the moment we are hoping that VDT will do better than Golden Compass, don't we? At least in that case, a rendition of a quasi-Christian, if not completely Christian film will look good.

Therefore I am not upset that the so-called 'Christian' moments are not as 'Christian' as it seems some insist. They are merely 'Narnian' moments. And yes, I know the sum of Aslan's appearances was dictated by the CGI budget.

VDT is fine with me.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby narnian1 » Jan 18, 2011 5:37 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I didn't expect the film to be absolutely 'Christian'. After all, like all the other Narnia stories, VDT is supposed to be a supposal, not an allegory.

Nor am I happy that suddenly we have a whinge about a 'humanistic' view of Narnia, on other threads, looking for yet another reason to criticize this movie. Precisely what is 'humanism' to the disgruntled grumblers? And what did they expect to happen instead? Dufflepuds breaking out into a tap-dance? A begone foul rodent and repent ye of your pride to Reepicheep? Aslan saying verbally, no Eustace, you really have to grovel a lot more, before I undragon you? These are lovely scenes adapted from the book, that would be ruined forever by the more punitive and Inquisitorial version that seems to be what people hoped for.

And yes, we have nothing if not belief. It is only belief that allows me to persevere with my existence, that a few people at least still love me, need me and will occasionally listen to me.

Therefore I am not upset that the so-called 'Christian' moments are not as 'Christian' as it seems some insist. They are merely 'Narnian' moments. And yes, I know the sum of Aslan's appearances was dictated by the CGI budget.

VDT is fine with me.



Thank you! The movie has its flaws yes. But I wouldn't say it doesn't have these christian moments. The Reep line was brilliant and it sums it all up. Science vs Faith has always been an issue. Doesn't mean we must lose faith because of it.


The Albatross was there to give her hope, that help would be coming. Different from the book but it came. You might say it was the swords and not Aslan, but the movie also established that it was Aslan who gave the seven swords for protection agains evil. Therefore even the film, establishes that Aslan was, in the end, their savior from this. He planted those swords for this occasion you might say.


There I have another name was just from the book, and the line was to comfort Lucy. And that it did. What was said to Reep here about earning his right to go to Aslan's Country is distinct from it IMO. In which case that line, to Reep, might have a flaw- But the line to Lucy does not.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Clive Staples Sibelius » Jan 18, 2011 8:48 am

Double post. Sorry!
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Clive Staples Sibelius » Jan 18, 2011 8:54 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I didn't expect the film to be absolutely 'Christian'. After all, like all the other Narnia stories, VDT is supposed to be a supposal, not an allegory. Even if it was allegorical, VDT doesn't have to repeat Christian truths verbatim. Furthermore it is a lovely, glorious fantasy, that I am delighted to see reproduced in an endearing movie.


I agree with you that Narnia is what Lewis called a 'supposal,' more than an allegory. It is indeed glorious fantasy. I for one have argued against the simplistic view of the books as mere Christian propaganda. They aren't chick tracts. However, this does not mean that they aren't Christian. And believe me, there are more ways than just allegory to communicate an essentially Christian message. Dostoyevsky's novel Crime and Punishment is the most powerful example I can think of.

My problem with the film is that it DID reduce the essentially Christian message into a few silly tropes. And I know they could have done better, because they already did better with how they communicated the message in Prince Caspian. Even though the franchise as a whole has demoted Aslan to Simba status, they still managed to say (in PC) that the war could not be won without Aslan and unless it was fought for Aslan. They managed to do this in an artful, subtle way. It was integrated into the story, as it should have been--- because it IS the story.

Nor am I happy that suddenly we have a whinge about a 'humanistic' view of Narnia, on other threads, looking for yet another reason to criticize this movie. Precisely what is 'humanism' to the disgruntled grumblers? And what did they expect to happen instead?

Well, why not, if there is something to criticize? And I don't think the complaints about humanism are unfounded. Humanism is, as its name implies, centered around humans. It's the Philosophy engendered by some Renaissance philosophers, but mostly by the Age of Enlightenment.

Now personally, I don't find all of it offensive. Humanism doesn't claim to negate God. But the message is man/woman-kind-centered. It's where we get the "power of the human spirit" trope that gets attached film summaries all the time. The message is that humans will overcome whatever travails face them, no matter what, by finding strength in themselves.

Dufflepuds breaking out into a tap-dance? A begone foul rodent and repent ye of your pride to Reepicheep? Aslan saying verbally, no Eustace, you really have to grovel a lot more, before I undragon you? These are lovely scenes adapted from the book, that would be ruined forever by the more punitive and Inquisitorial version that seems to be what people hoped for.

Would they, though? And what makes you think they would be more punitive? Lewis did not believe in 'turn right for reward, turn left for punishment' kind of Christianity (see "A Reply to Prof. Haldane" in the collection On Stories).

I think you're being unfair here to those who are not satisfied with the transformation of Eustace. The reason Eustace became a dragon was of his own doing-- it was, in that fantastical world, a natural result of his being selfish and greedy. Because mankind makes the same mistakes over and over again, he can't just help himself--he has to ask for help. A blind man can't make himself see again. That message, as conveyed in the book, seems to be very much the opposite of humanism.


And yes, we have nothing if not belief. It is only belief that allows me to persevere with my existence, that a few people at least still love me, need me and will occasionally listen to me. My understanding of 'humanism' is that it is something Philip Pullman would endorse in his anti-Narnia Golden Compass, for example. And at the moment we are hoping that VDT will do better than Golden Compass, don't we? At least in that case, a rendition of a quasi-Christian, if not completely Christian film will look good.

Is "belief" God, then? It's an unfortunate phrase to begin with. I agree with you that keeping heaven in mind is what gives one strength to persevere.

Humanism is indeed what Philip Pullman would endorse, but in his books it is done a lot more poetically and beautifully, as Lewis did for his own views. The film did neither well. Humanism is also what the character Weston represents (not allegorically, but as a spokesman) in Lewis' Space Trilogy.

Therefore I am not upset that the so-called 'Christian' moments are not as 'Christian' as it seems some insist. They are merely 'Narnian' moments. And yes, I know the sum of Aslan's appearances was dictated by the CGI budget.

VDT is fine with me.


They are not Narnia moments because what Lewis meant by 'Narnian' was essentially Christian. The film reverses most of what Lewis originally meant.

And Aslan shouldn't have to take second bow to the other CG characters when it comes to appearing onscreen.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Rilians Queen » Jan 18, 2011 8:55 am

#2 on your list really bothered me as well! It yet again makes Aslan seem powerless like they made him in Prince Caspian. I bet non readers didn't think once that it was Aslan. X( It bothers me so much too!!
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Conina » Jan 18, 2011 12:32 pm

I wondered what non-readers would make of the albatross as it didn't provide the practical help it did in the book and it didn't really show the crew's reactions much. A lot of things were very heavily left to the viewers's interpretation.

#3 is the main aspect that bothered me. That line about Reepicheep "deserving" to go made me feel that the makers of the film didn't understand the concept of grace. With grace being such a big part of the story (in the book) it really left a gap in the film. In the book, Reepicheep is leaving as an act that will break the curse on the remaining 7 lords. He longs to go and considers it an adventure, but he is also giving up ruling the mice. Its an echo of Aslan giving up his life to break the curse on Narnia. Now Reepicheep is giving up his life in Narnia to awaken the lords. The appearance of the table and the knife on that last island bring Aslan's sacrifice to mind. In the film, like the appearance of the albatross, the reason for Reepicheep's leaving is heavily left to the viewer's interpretation.

*edited for grammatical errors
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Stylteralmaldo » Feb 22, 2011 1:58 pm

For me, the Albatross wasn't merely a disappointment, it was disturbing.

When I saw the part with the Albatross, I had a difficult time connecting it to Aslan. Unfortunately, I had a much easier time connecting it with the comment made by the Minataur on the Dawn Treader when he laughed at Eustace when he tried speaking to the bird when everyone in Narnia knew that birds couldn't talk (i.e. were among the dumb beasts). :-\
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby puddleglum32 » Feb 22, 2011 6:42 pm

Yes it kinda freaked me out to. I thought it would sorta be really powerful. I thought it looked a bit evil.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Arvan » Mar 07, 2011 10:46 pm

I really feel that the theme of grace was greatly minimized to make room for the theme of temptation (which wasn't a main theme in the book at all, ironically). In addition, the filmmakers grossly misinterpreted the meaning of grace. Was it not Michael Flaherty who told us that he explained to the others how grace was a gift, not a reward? He told us that they took out the battle between DragonEustace and the Sea Serpent, yet there it was in full force. I think the producers and writers (and director especially) need to step down and let others (who know what they are doing) take their place.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby beloved » Apr 24, 2011 7:20 am

I think a point here is this: These movies are obviously not made for us.

Yeah, I'm totally bothered that Lucy at first doesn't believe in Aslan's country at all until confronted with the idea directly. I hate how "no one could be more deserving" than Reepicheep, but I am going to disagree about the albatross. In our darkest of times and our most loud cries of prayer bring about only the smallest reminder that God is with us and we have the tools to win because victory has already been granted and then the devil brings in another wave of attack and the reminder is gone. The extrodinary courage it takes to beat your temptation when you feel so alone is the kind of stuff that makes us grow as christians. He will never leave or forsake us but sometimes the only place to see Him is in our own heart and action.
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For anyone lost in the darkness that is this world, those who don't know Narnia or Christ, these these things should make them wonder and that's enough for me. The movies are awful adaptations and I will always love the books more but all our complaints of how sadly "christian" it is does nothing but fuel our anger.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Conina » Apr 24, 2011 12:43 pm

beloved wrote: The movies are awful adaptations and I will always love the books more but all our complaints of how sadly "christian" it is does nothing but fuel our anger.


Anger may be a part of it for people who love the books and feel the movie didn't do the book justice. But analysis for me is an integral part of the film or book experience. When I watch a movie or read a book I do so in part for the escape of it, the adventure of it. But another part of my mind is searching for deeper truths in symbols and nuances. As a Christian and a deep thinker I've loved the Narnia series because it answers that search with abundance. Everytime I've read them I have gotten something different out of them to ponder over long after the adventure and escapism has died away.

I went to the VDT movie in part for the adrenaline/adventure and to see the islands brought to life. I got those things. But the deeper part of my mind went away unfed. I didn't really have anything to mull over except how such meaningful things had gotten turned into such tripe. I think its worth noting and thinking about why and how it happened. So that we as future story-tellers don't make the same mistakes in our own artistic endeavors.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby juzuma loves lucy » Jun 07, 2011 7:44 am

I agree. It's little bit Christian, but when you'll look at Aslan and Caspian's relationship, you'll find really Christian thing.
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby TheWarriorQueen » Jul 20, 2011 9:12 pm

I haven't read the VDT book yet but after reading all of Y'all's posts I am going to have to read it ASAP I think.

I really enjoyed Walden Media's Narnia films but I can definitely see what everyone is saying. I had no idea they took out a lot of things.

At the very end of VDT movie right before they put the painting back on the wall there was a cross that the painting was held on. I thought that was kind of amazing that they bothered to include something as small as that, especially with how...lets say, fickle people are nowadays. It just seemed so significant to me with it being the last scene of the movie. And I was so happy they did include it! :ymapplause:

Am I making any sense at all? /:) lol
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Re: Three "Christian" Moments in VDT film

Postby Lilygloves » Aug 27, 2011 9:51 am

Haha yes, you are making sense.
I just really feel as though the Christian messages many of us get from the book were ruined by a very humanistic view in the movie. The albatross was a slap in the face. You think they are going to give Aslan credit, and then at the end they give it to Eustace. The bird was only there for a second or two. If you haven't read the books or don't remember it, it would just be a random bird flying around in the mist. I am very grateful that Mr. Gresham fought and succeeded to get "I have another name" in the movie. I wish they would have put more of that dialogue in, however I will take what I can get. Compared to the rest of the film, it was the best Christian message out of all of the messages.
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