Narnia and Disney

In a marriage of modern mythmakers, the Walt Disney Co. is marketing a film based on C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. And in doing so, Disney will take a page from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on Lewis’ novel for children and Christian allegory, will be released Dec. 9.

For Disney, the Christian marketing campaign represents a sharp break with corporate policy. Apart from Disney World’s annual Nights of Joy concerts, the film is the company’s first undertaking with the religious community. For some evangelical leaders, it represents the effective end of their Disney boycott.

The entertainment giant, which bills itself as a “Magic Kingdom,” has carefully avoided religion for most of its history. Yet Disney has launched a 10-month campaign aimed at evangelical Christians to build support for Narnia, a $100 million, live-action and computer-generated animated feature it is co-producing with Walden Media.

Given the success of THE PASSION and THE LORD OF THE RINGS, it would be incredibly stupid for Disney to have turned Aslan into a dechristianized were-beast, Peter and Edmund into gay lovers, Susan into a dominatrix attracted to animals and Lucy an abuse survivor gradually recovering her memories of her mistreatment at the hands of the Professor, but given Disney’s recent history, you’d be hard to put it past them. Fortunately, greed appears to have gotten the better of the usual Hollywood propaganda, so it’s possible that the movie might actually be all right.

I’m rather looking forward to it, but then, it wouldn’t disturb me if they messed it up the way it would have disturbed me if Peter Jackson had destroyed THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I very much like Narnia, but I don’t love it in the same way I love THE DARK IS RISING or even THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN. Among other things, what happened to the electric appliances after the first book? Were they lost in the Telemarine dark age?