December 5, 2005

DID SECULARS EVEN KNOW LORD OF THE RINGS WAS RELIGIOUS?:

In 'Narnia,' Tycoon Seeks Blockbuster With a Message (Claudia Eller, December 5, 2005, LA Times)

[A] windfall would give the 65-year-old [Philip] Anschutz, whose vast assets include Staples Center, the Los Angeles Kings hockey team, the San Francisco Examiner and Regal Entertainment Group, the world's largest operator of movie theaters, something he needs more than money: credibility as a savvy investor in the movie business.

It could also give Disney something it lacks — a sure-fire movie series on a par with the "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings" franchises, which have reaped billions for rival studios. Anschutz, a religious Christian who has vowed to make wholesome entertainment that doesn't rely on sex, foul language or violence to sell tickets, controls the rights to all seven books in the Narnia series.

But first, the companies must pull off a delicate balancing act, luring religious moviegoers to the allegorical film without turning off mainstream audiences.

"It's a balance to try to market to the widest possible audience," said Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook. "We're trying to cast the widest net we can."

To that end, Disney is spending mightily — an estimated $120 million to market and distribute the PG-rated film worldwide on more than 8,000 screens.


A 'Narnia' C.S. Lewis might love: The author was highly protective of his work, but modern technology and a civilized directorial touch should avoid any risk of his book being 'blasphemed.' (Alan Jacobs, December 5, 2005, LA Times)
[A]ssuming the technology allows for a dignified Aslan — nothing "remotely approaching the comic" — and has treated the other characters and events in an appropriate style, would Lewis have any reason to complain about the film version of his story?

No, with his stated fears addressed, Lewis would be free to worry about something more crucial: Whether the film preserved the integrity of his story. Having died 42 years ago, he's not available for consultation. But his stepson, Douglas Gresham, co-produced the film and has been spending the last several months reassuring Lewis' Christian fans that the film will faithfully mirror the book. At the heart of it will be Aslan's sacrifice to save poor Edmund and end the long cold winter of the White Witch. If viewers fail to get the message of redemption, it won't be the fault of the filmmakers.

And if the movie's not a work of genius, it's unlikely to be overly vulgar. After all, its director, Andrew Adamson, was raised in a relatively "decent society": New Zealand.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 5, 2005 9:47 AM
Comments

"Anschutz, a religious Christian who has vowed to make wholesome entertainment that doesn't rely on sex, foul language or violence to sell tickets..."

Someone should have told Mel Gibson. If he'd been directing we'd presumably have had Aslan being flayed alive in close-up.

Posted by: Brit at December 5, 2005 10:11 AM

It is funny, some movies are becoming more religious because they have more talented people making them. It is like Christian pop music. Years ago, Christian pop music was musically not very good. These days, it is on par musically with other pop music. Now, you might say that means it is pretty bad; however, we are talking about pop music and I'd rather have my kids listen to bubble gum music with a religious message than otherwise.

Posted by: pchuck at December 5, 2005 11:02 AM

"Anschutz, a religious Christian..." And what other type of Christian is there, praytell? I have never seen this phrase before--is it an indicator that there is a movement to begin to refer to "religious Christians" versus "secular Christians", as if often done for Jews?

Posted by: b at December 5, 2005 11:47 AM

"DID SECULARS EVEN KNOW LORD OF THE RINGS WAS RELIGIOUS?"

Yes, of course. It's a fictional narrative, isn't it?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 5, 2005 12:09 PM

Robert:

No, it isn't.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 12:58 PM

I liked this: "But first, the companies must pull off a delicate balancing act, luring religious moviegoers to the allegorical film without turning off mainstream audiences."

Hollywood still thinks (or hopes?) the two are different.

Posted by: Pepys at December 5, 2005 1:31 PM

Everyone who hasn't already should read CS Lewis' "The Discarded Image".

Posted by: Carter at December 5, 2005 1:52 PM

Carter,

Indeed, but not to leave out The Abolition of Man.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at December 5, 2005 2:13 PM

The Lord of the Rings isn't fictional?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 5, 2005 3:17 PM

Yes, it is:

I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done so since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence. I much prefer history, true or feigned, with its varied applicability to the thought and experience of the reader. I think that many confuse 'applicability' with 'allegory'; but the one resides in the freedom of the reader, and the other in the purposed domination of the author.
-- J.R.R. Tolkien, From the Forward to the second edition of LOTR
What really happens is that the story-maker proves a successful 'sub-creator'. He makes a Secondary World which your mind can enter. Inside it, what he relates is 'true': it accords with the laws of that world. You therefore believe it, while you are, as it were, inside. The moment disbelief arises, the spell is broken; the magic, or rather art, has failed. You are then out in the Primary World again, looking at the little abortive Secondary World from outside.
-- -- J.R.R. Tolkien, "On Fairy Stories", The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays Posted by: joe shropshire at December 5, 2005 3:51 PM

joe:

Exactly. It's not fiction.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 3:56 PM

Of course it is. It's successful fiction.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 5, 2005 4:01 PM

As you point out, not according to Tolkien.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 4:13 PM

Where is Middle Earth? Where are the Orcs?

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 5, 2005 4:32 PM

New Jersey.

Posted by: Carter at December 5, 2005 4:35 PM

Robert:

Where are we?

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 4:45 PM

It's my understanding that Tolkien's aversion to calling LOTR allegory was because people were interpreting it as being about the Nazis. And he wanted to make clear that the basis of the story was much more universal & fundamental than that...

Posted by: b at December 5, 2005 4:47 PM

Yes, as is all successful fiction.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 5, 2005 4:52 PM

Which there isn't that much of, by the way. The norm for fiction is failure, just as it is for any other art. Most books are "little abortive Secondary World(s)." So it's not surprising that some simple-minded folk, when they encounter a successful work of fiction, believe it's something more.

Posted by: joe shropshire at December 5, 2005 5:14 PM

It's myth, not allegory.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 6:14 PM

joe:

All great books are mere sub-creations. Fiction is creative, and therefore false.

Posted by: oj at December 5, 2005 6:15 PM

b: Right on.

Tolkien initially wrote much of "The Silmarillion" before WWI, and the LOTR was on its way by 1936. People today aren't going to make a Nazi connection, although they could have then. But Sauron was only a servant, not a master. Who would they say was Hitler's master?

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 6, 2005 10:58 AM

It's fiction OJ. Don't try your sophistry on me, I am an ex-Catholic, and thereby innoculated against such semantic machinations. Not being allegorical does not make it factual history. There is allegorical fiction and non-allegorical fiction.

Gee, and you wonder why some people think that the Da Vinci Code is historical fact.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2005 1:17 PM

No, it's myth, partaking of the One Myth.

Da Vinci is fiction.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2005 1:32 PM

Myths are fiction.

Posted by: Robert Duquette at December 6, 2005 4:27 PM

Robert:

No, myth is true.

Posted by: oj at December 6, 2005 7:11 PM
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