The Book: 1950
Written by C.S. Lewis (originally published by Geoffrey Bles)
The Film: 2005
Directed by Adam Adamson (Walt Disney Pictures)
In truth The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is the only volume of the Narnia series that I have read, but it’s one I’ve read several times. The first time I watched the film, it was with my twelfth-grade English lit class on a field trip to the theatre. You could consider the outing my first “Popcorn and Book” experience as we read the book then watched the film and compared. Now several years later, here I am comparing them again.
In many ways the film does an excellent job of interpreting the book. The tone, the script and the characters are very much in line with the novel. If you go back and read the book, a lot of the lines from the movie match up word for word and it isn’t hard to imagine the actors speaking them as you read.
For the most part, the film can stand on its own; you don’t need to have read the book to understand and follow it. It has a clear and intriguing storyline, without any gaps that only readers would be able to fill in. In fact, I feel the movie adds something to the story. I appreciate the backstory the film offers for the Pevensie children. The book drops a few hints about why the children have come to live with the Professor, but the film shows why they’ve left home and offers a glimpse into their family dynamic. The film builds on the novel without taking much away from it—a rarity when it comes to adaptations.
I think the casting directors did an excellent job filling out the cast, from Tilda Swinton as the icy White Witch to James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus. The younger children especially did a great job. And is there anyone with a more majestic and lion-worthy voice than Liam Neeson? (Except of course James Earl Jones.)
With all of the elaborate costumes, special effects and sets, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe really is a very visually-entertaining film. The book is delightful, but, if you’re looking for a quick Narnia fix, the film is an excellent alternative.
Did you enjoy the book or the movie more? Share your answers in comments.
“Popcorn and a Book” is a bi-weekly meme I host where I will compare one book with its adapted film, looking at the content, the way it has been visualized, the experience, etc. If you would like to participate in this meme, please visit the “Popcorn and a Book” main page for details.