Journal Entry 1,
So far, this Religion in Film class has been every bit as informative and enjoyable as I initially thought. One issue I have with my current educational track (I’m double majoring in Religious Studies and Political Science) is that it leaves little open to develop ones creativity. I’ve attended art and photography magnet programs, and I have been taking pictures with my fathers Nikon SLR since I was 7. Art has always come naturally to me, and it’s always been a valuable form of expressing my emotions and sharpening my mind. Yet I find myself studying methods, theories, and other rhetoric in my classes that does little to challenge my analytical and creative thinking skills. There are, however, those rare opportunities where I can sharpen my wit, and REL3111 so far appears to be one.
My first opportunity has come under the showing of the first movie. We took two classes to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”. I have had some experience watching this movie, and even own it on DVD. This added with me being a Protestant Christian and a HUGE fantasy fanatic (I read too much about dragons and magic…), I have a good grasp on the movie and it’s message. Since I’ve seen this movie, I’ll go over the plot in a few sentences.
The timeframe is during WW2. During this time, the Nazi Germans had a tendency to fly planes over England and bomb the crap out of it’s citizens. Fearing these actions, a mother sends her kids to live with an uncle. It’s at this uncles mansion/manor that the kids find a wardrobe that leads to a land called Narnia. Here they play a central role in a battle of good versus evil, where a noble lion battles the evil efforts of a wicked queen.
The plot might appear to only be aimed at a young audience, but the symbolism and message hidden behind the story is one that anyone can enjoy. In the most simplistic observation I can offer, the story is about the message of Christianity. It is extremely entertaining (as the class, made up of those in their 20’s, found out) but in it’s purest form it’s a colorful portrayal that the message and story of Christ has to offer.
From it’s beginning you can draw the connections between the movies character’s and it’s Christian message. One of signs of it’s religious undertone is how the kids are mentioned as being sons of adams and daughters of eve (upon entering Narnia). This hints at their human nature, and even foreshadows the massive role they will have in shaping Narnia (Just as Adam and Eve played the central role of shaping Eden). Our 4 characters can even be chiseled down to represent biblical figures (The two girls show references to the motherly Mary and the other one, and the boys seem to resemble the Apostle Peter (Peter) and Judas (Edmund). The childrens importance is pushed even further by the mention of a prophecy, and it reflected that will of man that can change the world.
Another character that is saturated with biblical characteristics is that of the White Witch. She represents Satan and Sin in the movie, and just as the Snake lured Eve and Adam with a forbidden fruit, so does the witch lure Edmund with a candy called Turkish delights. We have here the fall of humanity through his own sins. Edmunds selfish green and desire (his sin), leads to betrayal. We can even relate the Turkish delight to the silver exchanged to Juda’s for the betrayal of Christ. It is this selfish desire and quest for power that leads to the conflict of our story. Edmun betrays the trust of his brothers and sisters, and soon the race is on as the White Witch tries to capture the rest of the humans.
As here on earth, Satan is on the mission to devour the human spirit. He (or in Narnia’s case, She) is one of pure sin, green, and desire. As she races to find the children, they race to a Lion called Aslan (who is Jesus) in hopes of defeating the white witch. Upon finding her, and Emund escaping (and being forgiven by Aslan for his Sins), a magical law is said to need the sacrifice of Edmund. The queen believes she has found a way to claim victory over the prophecy of the 2 eves and 2 adams by claiming this sacrifice was needed to appease the law, and just then Aslan offers himself as sacrifice. As the story goes, Christ gave himself up for man, was crucified (or in Narnia’s case stabbed) and resurrected to defeat the White Witch.
Aslan speaks of a deeper magic which the queen had never noticed. This is an interesting transcendental portion of the movie. As the devil here on earths knows of the Law of Moses and other laws, He/She does not grasp that deeper law of God. Aslan has this understanding, knowing that it is whats needed to atone for Emunds sins of betrayal, as well as atone all those in Narnia. In the end, this Ransom theory of Atonement as found in Christianity is found in Narnia, and at the end the battle is waged and evil defeated.
It is the clash of good vs evil, virtue vs Vice, and three kingdoms that set the stage for our clash. On one hand we have the kingdom of evil led by the white witch, while on the other spectrum we have that of goodness lead by the lion. It is interesting to perceive the land of Narnia as a scale which is tipped by the third kingdom made up of man and his free will. However, man can go in either direction to either further darkness or endure with faith. Yet it is the act of ultimate love of Aslan that forgives a man for tipping the scale to the side of evil, by providing forgiveness to the humans (Edmund in our case).
Man appears doomed from the beginning, but it is Aslan’s knowledge of a deep magic that sets Man free from the Dark Queens rule. These magic’s themselves are interesting. The first, is one of an ethical/moral system and code (law of Moses). However just as (in the story of the message of Christianity) the Pharisee’s misunderstood the meaning behind these laws. There is, however, a metaphysical element called deeper magic, which is only understand by those who attain the faith, and taught and executed by Aslan. Christ came to break the slavery to Law and Sin, just as Aslan came to free them from this Magic Code and the Queen.
The point of the story: Humble yourself, reject evil, love conquers all and good always wins in the end. In the end we see Narnia as a beautiful and new way to express that message of Salvation through the message of Christianity; yet appeals to a different audience. Same message, new delivery.
I liked it.
-Leonard O Goenaga