March 02, 2004

Box Office 2005: Lewis v. Pullman?

Posted by Ed

I don't know whether to be excited or worried: according to Reuters, Walden Media and Disney have struck a deal to make a film version of C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The director will be Andrew Adamson of Shrek, filming will begin this summer, and the movie will be released in time for Christmas 2005.

The movie could, of course, be wonderful, but I have my doubts. (Then again, I was expecting the worst from Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy...) I also have to wonder exactly how the book's Christian themes will be portrayed on film--and, whatever happens, I expect controversy to ensue. (Remember the debate that followed a 2001 New York Times article claiming that the Narnia books would be given a more secular spin by their new publisher?) Given that Mel Gibson isn't slated to direct, I don't expect fireworks, but one never knows for sure.

But here's an idea that really intrigues me: according to the Internet Movie Database, a film version of Philip Pullman's novel The Golden Compass is also due for release in 2005. Pullman, another children's fantasy novelist, is a harsh critic of Lewis; in fact, his best-known trilogy has been criticized by English church officials as a strident attack on organized religion, though it might be more accurate to call it a retelling of Paradise Lost in a fantasy world of alternate universes, angelic sub-atomic particles, and personified consciences known as daemons. (Here's a recent New York Times article on Pullman, and here's a mediocre Atlantic Monthly article defending Lewis from Pullman's critique.)

I'm a big fan of both Lewis and Pullman, and the prospect of a head-to-head box-office showdown between the two writers fills me with an odd combination of excitement and dread. I worry that one or both films will be hurt by its transition to the screen and wonder whether religious controversy will distract people from the high quality of both series, but, if all goes well, we could be in for a real treat.

(If you're curious, here are a handful of entries on related topics that I wrote at my old blog.)

Posted by Ed at March 2, 2004 07:06 PM

I wonder if the "vigor" of Mel Gibson's movie will influence this one?

Posted by: Oscar Chamberlain at March 3, 2004 11:02 AM
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