A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has some sad, scary, and violent scenes for a PG film. The movie begins with a bombing during the Blitz in London. The children are separated from their mother, which could upset some younger audience members. There are other sad scenes where animals die -- including principle characters. A friendly fox is chased and caught by a pack of wolves, who also chase the children. A witch yells at a young boy, chains him in prison, and stabs him. She also abuses her servant, stabs her enemies with a sword that turns them to stone, martyrs the lion, and leads troops into battle. The children learn to fight, then engage in hand-to-hand combat and sword fighting; one sister shoots an enemy with an arrow. There is a pitched battle with deaths and grave injuries. While not overt, the movie includes Christian imagery (a martyred, Christlike lion, a rebirth from magic water) and allegorical storylines.
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What's the story?
Based on C.S. Lewis' beloved novel, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE begins when the Pevensie children -- Peter (William Moseley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) -- are sent away from the dangers of World War II to live in the country with Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent). While playing hide and seek, they discover the magical wardrobe that serves a portal to Narnia, a kingdom under the power of the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Here they also discover their own strengths, as they learn of a prophecy declaring their participation crucial to saving Narnia. When 6-year-old Lucy first meets the faun Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), her siblings won't believe her. But soon all four children have tumbled through the portal into Narnia and find they must rescue Edmond who has been enticed (and kidnapped) by the Witch. While the Witch holds Narnia under a wintry sway, she dreads the return of Aslan the lion (voiced by Liam Neeson), the character C.S. Lewis endows with savior-like properties. The Pevensies come to realize it's their destiny to save the kingdom. At first, they resist the dangerous mission, but Narnia friends teach them specific tasks they'll use in battle. By now, Peter, Susan, and Lucy are looking for Aslan, in hopes that he will help them save Edmond, currently in chains at the Witch's feet, even as she and her wolves are hunting the children. The Witch's power depends on her capacity to instill fear in her subjects, while Aslan inspires hope, the faith that conditions might change, that the sun might warm the earth.
Is it any good?
Long and lush and directed by Shrek's Andrew Adamson, this film makes a case for love among siblings by granting them a common enemy. The scariest scene in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes at the start: a night sky is filled with smoke and warplanes. As the Germans bomb London during WWII, the Pevensie children scramble to the backyard bomb shelter. designates moral positions in part by associating certain animals and mythical creatures with them. These embodiments take a cue from the Lord of the Rings franchise, assembled according to beauty and horridness: sleek and elegant animals like cheetahs and horses and centaurs form Aslan's crew; ogres, dwarves, and minotaurs constitute Jadis' fearsome assembly. None of the Christian elements are obvious and a viewer could watch the movie without realizing any of this -- as with the book.
The final battle returns the children to the film's opening: they witness (and now enact) violent destruction of bodies and material. The fight images are rendered in grand terms, as the two armies gather on hilltops and leaders raise their arms to prompt forward motion. This motion initially is like thunder -- a rush of rumbling hooves and wheels. At the moment of first impact, when a cheetah and a tiger leap on one another, the sound goes out for an instant. It's awful, maybe thrilling, but only for a moment. It recalls the awesome power of war, to pretend glory and abstract honor. And that is scary.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the bonds among the four siblings in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. How do they comfort and provoke one another while away from their mother and fearful about the war? How is Narnia a fantasy born of this combination of supporting one another and concern about their future?
How do the animals and creatures in Narnia represent different aspects of the children's daily lives -- their courage, fear, and desires?
Families might also discuss the Christian iconography in the film.
- In theaters: December 9, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: April 4, 2006
- Cast: Georgie Henley, Tilda Swinton, William Moseley
- Director: Andrew Adamson
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 140 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: battle sequences and frightening moments.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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