|Jeremy Soule||Score Composer|
Three friends; Hearth and home; Heart of the code
I wasn't sure what to expect from this DVD on C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia series, but I'm glad to say it's an informative scholarly-theory-meets-pop-culture DVD and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. C.S. Lewis' Narnia series has been incredibly popular for half a century, and different literary theorists have been trying to figure out why. The stories are magical and moving, though the writing style is mostly just "okay", at least in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (in my opinion, the quality of the writing and characterization improves as the series progresses). Most people know that a Christian allegory lies beneath Lewis' fantasy world, but it's also extraordinary that he freely puts talking animals, Father Christmas, and creatures from Greek and Roman mythology into the same fantasy universe in a rare sort of genre-cross. Could there be something else to the books, some other underlying or unifying principle that connects all the awe-inspiring but disparate elements Lewis uses? Michael Ward came upon the idea that perhaps each of the seven Narnia books corresponds to one of the seven heavenly bodies in medieval astronomy. In the era before the telescope was invented, there was a theory of seven harmonious planets, the ones that were visible without magnification. Lewis was a medievalist who was familiar with this view of the world, and he was very fond of planet imagery, so it doesn't seem unlikely that he could have included some of the moods and symbols associated with those planets in his books. The Narnia/planet theory says that Lewis didn't just toss some ancient planet-related images into his stories--rather, they were a symbolic starting point and a way of giving a certain structure to the books. In this new way of organizing the books, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe relates to Jupiter, Prince Caspian to Mars, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the sun, and The Silver Chair to the moon, and so on. The evidence is all very compelling and interesting, and it makes me want to read the more detailed book on the planet theory, just so I can get the entire picture. The DVD is very enjoyable, and ought to delight anyone who has an interest in C.S. Lewis' life and work. The love for The Chronicles of Narnia is evident in every academic commenting on the theory, and the DVD is worth watching for the depictions of Lewis' backstory, skepticism, conversion, and literary friendships alone. This was a man who was highly knowledgeable and massively talented, and this new work shows a great respect for him and a persuasive argument for his having woven some added meaning into his books. Do I believe it? Not quite. But the lovely thing about the planets theory is that if you don't accept it, it does nothing to taint or lessen your love for the series, and if you do accept it, it doesn't mar the childhood fantasy or Christian attitudes of the books--it only adds a layer of meaning. And I'm all for scholarly exploration and delving into the symbolism of great works. I'm very glad to have watched this--The Narnia Code has sparked some interesting thoughts and even more interesting discussions in my sphere.