There's something in Narnia that keeps drawing you back to those same dog-eared, worn paperback copies from your childhood. We’ve read the books aloud, listened to them on CD, and little Mary is even reading them on her own. The language is simple enough that a child’s imagination can be captured and held within their pages, and yet literary scholars have been studying C.S. Lewis’ fairytale series for decades. What’s the big deal? you ask? Aren’t they just children’s stories with some Christian allegory thrown in?
I’ll admit it, I thought I knew all there was to know about Narnia. Maybe I was wrong (adults who think they know all there is to know about a thing usually are).
I expected The Narnia Code to be pretty much a rehashing of Lewis’ religious beliefs as they present themselves in the Narnia series. Wouldn’t you know that there’s more to it than that? There’s another, deeper message here, a “coded message,” Lewis’ little secret, recently discovered by Michael Ward and elucidated in his book Planet Narnia. This documentary is, more or less, an overview of the theory he presents in his book, bookended by a brief biography of Lewis and testimony of various “experts” as they explore what Ward’s scholarship adds to Narnia.
The Narnia Code originally appeared on the BBC and runs just under an hour long. There are about 45 minutes of extras, as well, including interviews with a few of Lewis’ contemporaries and further exploration of Ward’s theory. Production values are high. It’s well paced and there’s not too much hinting around about what this theory actually is before they come to the point. My husband and I enjoyed watching it. It’s long enough to get the main points across without bogging you down with details. And it whetted our appetite for more…enough that hubby has decided to read the book (he’s got it in hand and says it is definitely a scholarly work, not light reading, but, hey, he’s an academic). I suspect that the Narnia Code will make Ward’s ideas more accessible to the general public.
And what are those theories? There’s a little hint in the trailer:
But I don’t want to give away the bulk of the film.
There were a couple of things I didn’t like. Often an “expert” in the film is identified only by name and the fact that he’s an expert. An expert of what? Credentials anyone? The last part of the film has kind of a fawning tone to it with all the experts talking about how wonderful Ward’s discovery is and Ward himself has kind of this smug look and tone throughout most of the film. I found that distracting to the material, but I suppose the guy does deserve some congratulations.
Overall, I recommend The Narnia Code, a nice little addition if you are reading any of Lewis’ works, especially for the biographical material (the theory itself will also give you some insight into Lewis’ world). I plan on showing this to the kiddos at some point (yep, I think it’s appropriate for upper elementary and up). I don't know what I think of Ward's theory, yet (I may read the book). I do know how easy it is to read things into a work of literature that may or may not be there (my degree is in English and Philosophy). Just a little caveat. Don't believe everything you see on TV.
OK, one of my readers is going to receive their very own copy of The Narnia Code to add to their video library!
Giveaway is open to US residents. Please be sure that your email is visible in your comment or profile or your entry will not count.
Deadline to enter: December 22, 2010 (10 pm est)
Mandatory to enter (1 entry): Leave a comment telling me which book of C.S. Lewis’ is your fave. And it doesn’t have to be a Narnia book.
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