Some thoughts before we go see the movie. The Narnia series was never meant to be an allegory. As Peter J. Schakel writes:
To take the Chronicles as allegory, however, raises the danger of breaking their spell, either by destroying the independence of the imaginary world, as we begin looking outside it for the completion of its meaning, or by leading us to use our heads rather than our hearts in responding to the stories, or both. There are passages in the Chronicles which allow allegorical readings: Aslan’s death in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Eustace’s transformation in Aslan’s well in The Voyage of the “Dawn Treader,” and the final judgment and destruction of the world in The Last Battle, for example, have close parallels in Christianity and their meaning inevitably will be shaped to some extent by those parallels. But a brief comment by MacDonald puts them into proper perspective: “A fairytale is not an allegory. There may be allegory in it, but it is not an allegory.” [Notes omitted]Peter J. Schakel, Reading with the Heart: The Way into Narnia (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), pp. 2-3. [As I mentioned earlier, Schakel's book is one of the best books about the Narnia series and you may find it on-line here.] Interestingly, there is a very good discussion of Lewis, Narnia and Allegory in the Dummies series which can be found on-line here.
Kids seem to pick up on the essential truths communicated in the Narnia stories -- I recall C.S. Lewis commenting on this. Adults seem to try to force it into an allegory. I say to see this movie with a kid and then listen to what they have seen as opposed to telling them what Lewis was trying to say.
More on communicating with kids:
I was originally going to tie this in to an excellent note by Peter Sean Bradley on the Catholic Church's efforts to pass on the faith to kids, but I'm still thinking about this. When I grew up, the Church of Rome was not doing a good job of communicating the faith to kids -- a large part of it, in my opinion, was they were jettisoning the richness of the heritage (no mention of Augustine or Aquinas). Passing on the faith to kids is easy, because entering the Kingdom requires us to come like a child. Yet the richness of faith in all it's complexity makes the most wonderful of libraries look like a mere roadside outhouse.
See also this note by Iain Murray:
The other day we set up our Christmas Tree while the children were asleep. The next morning, Helen, our five year old, was so delighted that she said, "Daddy, you surprised me with joy."
More on Narnia, the movie:
Mother Frederica's review
* [12/18/05] I didn't realize I had only posted this in draft version -- a week agoon Saturday afternoon we finally got to see the movie -- it is excellent!