We returned from "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" a little over two hours ago. What a beautifully executed film.
The opening sequence is worth the whole movie. I can't recall a single film that shows us the terror of being on the ground under a bombing raid while trying to protect one's children. This opening device is the only part of the movie that truly moved me, and I think it is in part because it was unexpected and so well done. I really appreciated that effort.
The rest of the story is well-known in the circles I run in. No surprises.
What was surprising is how my understanding of the story and the gospel has changed in the last several years. I couldn't believe how dichotomistic Lewis is in his narrative. There is good. There is evil. The good is all good. The evil is all evil. Good must win and will. The good that must win will do so by killing, destroying, wiping out all evil. No forgiveness. No opportunity to change. End of story.
For my postmodern soul, this kind of eschatalogical conflict left me anxious. Is this even a possible way to view war any more in this world? What does this kind of narrative do to our imaginations? Do we frame our current conflicts in such a zero sum game?
When terrorists attack us, they represent themselves, yet are embedded in countries of people who are not out to harm us. Is it right to fight wars where those who are not evil are victims and can't be so easily sorted out from the "bad guys"?
The scene that upset me the most in the movie: Aslan standing by while Peter had to kill the wolf. My goodness! Peter was commanded to kill by the God figure without any intervention or help - yet the expression on his face was one of absolute repulsion (as it should be!) at the prospect of doing so. I did not like that at all! What about justice or punishment that doesn't include immediate execution at the hands of a boy!? Is that even how they did it in WWII? Did Nazi officers get shot point blank by the good guys while their compatriots stood by?
If the "deeper" magic is that the betrayer can be redeemed if one who is pure takes his place in judgment, then why wouldn't Aslan have done so on behalf of the wolf or on behalf of the evil, enslaved creatures working for the White Witch? In fact, isn't that the message most Christians equate with Christianity - that Jesus can to redeem the whole world? Yet in Lewis's world, the evil creatures are not to be redeemed at all. They are to be destroyed. Aslan dies only for one, not for everyone.
And all on Aslan's side are frozen by the White Witch, not killed, while those that the "good guys" kill are truly dead.
The underpinings of religion married to empire couldn't have been clearer. And the idea that we become more honorable through the murder of those we oppose ran as a theme throughout the story.
I no longer see Christianity in these terms. Perhaps it worked when Hitler was taking over Europe. But today? Do we honestly believe the route to a peaceful world is slaughtering our enemies? Hmmm. That sounds a bit like the Nazi vision of justice, doesn't it?