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Aesthetics

Behind the CG Effects – Stephanie

The author of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, C.S. Lewis described the origin of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an essay entitled It All Began with a Picture.  The manuscript for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was complete by the end of March 1949.  The name “Narnia” is based on Narni, Italy, written in Latin as Narnia.

“The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: ‘Let’s try to make a story about it.”

Little did he know that this simple picture will be made into one of the most recognized motion pictures in the 21st century.

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, tells the story of 4 siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie who are sent from their London home to the country estate of an eccentric professor in order to ensure their safety during World War II. The house is very dull, except for a large, ornate wardrobe discovered by young Lucy during a game of hide-and-seek. Venturing inside of it in the hopes of finding a hiding place, Lucy is transported to a snowy alternate universe: a magical world called Narnia. The land is populated by talking animals and ruled over by the benevolent lion Aslan, but sadly, the world is also in a state of perpetual winter. The White Witch, lustful for power and governed by narcissism, has cursed Narnia with a tyrannical decree that it will always be winter but never Christmas. Now, the children must fight alongside Aslan for the salvation of Narnia, but one of them, seduced by the charisma of the white witch, may choose to fight on the wrong side.” ~Movie Review

You may wonder why I chose a younger-audience targeted movie.  For a movie to be able to explain complicated and in-depth themes to children effectively is extremely difficult.  Watching this movie as an 8 year old in 2005, the underlying messages were successfully communicated to me; I could understand the themes on compassion and forgiveness, betrayal, sacrifice, guilt and blame, good vs. evil, and friendship.  The movie designates a moral position to certain animals and mythical creatures that connect with us in our daily lives.

The suspense, action, and emotion evokes a roller coaster effect on the viewers.  During the scene when Aslan walks to the Stone Table as a sacrifice in Edmund’s place, the tension and heart-rending moment nearly puts the audiences’ heartbeat to a stop. In the final battle final battle returns the children to the film’s opening: they witness violent destruction of bodies and material. The fight images are delivered in grand terms, as the two armies gather on hilltops and leaders raise their arms to prompt forward motion. This motion initially is like thunder – a rush of rumbling hooves and wheels. At the moment of first impact, when a cheetah and a tiger leap on one another (@4:52 in video below), the sound goes out for an instant. It’s awful, maybe thrilling, but only for a moment. It recalls the awesome power of war, to pretend glory and abstract honor. And that is beautifully scary.

What makes this movie beautiful is not just the computer effects, the actors, the background music, or the scenery, but the valuable message that breathes life into this composition.

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Discussion

5 thoughts on “Behind the CG Effects – Stephanie

  1. Oh I remember how much I loved the chronicles of Narnia! I definitely agree with beauty the message the movie portrays. There are lots of moral lesson in the chronicles, and from what I remember a lot of symbolism about Jesus Christ and things such as the atonement, for example, as you mentioned earlier, when the lion Aslan gives up his own life to save Edmund from the hands of the witch, and how he gets “ressurected” on the stone tablet during sunset after 3 days. Also the movie has a lot to do about choosing sides, with regards to what’s right and wrong and sticking to your family which results to betrayal. guilt, and many mixed feelings overall.

    Just out of curiosity, with regards that the film has a religious aspect, did that draw your attention to the movie even more? Does that have anything with the beauty the message of the film has to you?

    Posted by yasmeenmezban | January 18, 2013, 4:37 am
    • I think that the symbolism within this movie actually helped me connect to my Christian faith. As an individual raised in a Christian family, I could memorize all the bible stories, but I never grasped the true meaning of the gospel (the reason for Jesus Christ’s existence). Watching the Chronicles of Narnia, it became a visual aid in exemplifying the definition of Christianity to an eight year old. The scene that left the deepest impression on me was when Aslan sacrificed his life for the immature Pevensie boy, Edmund. It left me in so much desperation and frustration – how could a gentle and loving Aslan meet such an unjust end? However within a few minutes, Aslan’s revival from death enlightened me with hope. This part thus connected me with Christianity and makes the entire story even more beautiful/ meaningful.

      Thank-you for commenting! I really appreciate your feedback!

      Posted by stephsmiles777 | January 21, 2013, 5:23 am
  2. I do agree that Narnia is a very charming movie to say the least, but I think that at the heart it is a children’s movie, intended to tell a story in an almost ostentatious and pretentious way. It seeks to make itself so grand, and so important because it needs to be that in order for children to get at the story. It needs to try to reach further, for something that isn’t there, so that the little kids can get at the lesser thing that is the intent of the story. Godard once said, “Cinema is truth, 24 times a second.” And, all good movies are based on some sort of truth, some sort of self revelation, story, natural beauty, or etc. Narnia, I feel does as well which is why it has been so successful; but don’t you think that in retrospect it perhaps laid on the message with too heavy of a hand at times?

    Posted by riczhang | January 19, 2013, 2:34 am
    • When I first watched Narnia, I was only eight. Yet the whole meaning behind this motion picture was effectively communicated to me. Every movie is interpreted differently by each audience member, some may grasp the ultimate idea of the producer, some may have only enjoyed a magnificent production of cool effects. It truly depends on the individual watching the movie. Anyhow, I was the eight year old that understood the “too-heavy-of-a hand” meaning of the Chronicles of Narnia.

      Thank-you for your input! Hope to hear more from you!

      Posted by stephsmiles777 | January 21, 2013, 5:36 am
    • I, personally, didn’t realize Narnia was a massive religious metaphor until (embarrassingly) recently. When I watched it as a young child I simply appreciated it for the flashy scenes. Every child has gone through the stage, I would say, of dreams of swords and sorcery, and the Chronicles of Narnia are a classic convention of such fantasies. The only moral message I really got was that Edmund was a dick that redeemed himself at the end of the movie – all the religious metaphors completely went over my head (although in hindsight I didn’t really know that much about Christianity back then either!)

      Indeed, there are deep messages that are quite obvious to this movie, but rather in contrast to Steph’s original point – behind the deep messages and religious metaphors, it’s just an attractive movie put together to reach out to children by reflecting their childhood fantasies

      Posted by carrotdandan | January 21, 2013, 6:05 pm

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