In the film Shadowlands—the 1993 Anthony Hopkins movie about the life of C.S. Lewis—Lewis says, “We live in the shadowlands; the sun is always shining somewhere else.” In real life Lewis wrote Narnia novels both as a way for readers to escape and as an allegory to the Bible. Although Lewis never liked to describe The Chronicles of Narnia as biblical allegory, but “only magic,” the parallels are undeniable. Aslan represents Christ; the White Witch is Satan tempting Edmund, who is Judas, and so on and so on.
Prince Caspian, the second installment in The Chronicles of Narnia film series, comes to theaters this month. The fantasy promises to be another big hit for both children and adults who escape into Narnia with the Pevensie siblings.
Prince Caspian takes place one year after the events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the Kings and Queens of Narnia (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) find themselves back in Narnia. There, 1,300 years have passed since their defeat of the White Witch.
During their absence, however, the Golden Age of Narnia has disappeared, and Narnia is now ruled by the evil King Miraz, leader of the Telmarines. The four children meet a new character in the handsome Prince Caspian. He is in hiding from his uncle King Miraz, who wants to kill Caspian to make room on the throne for Miraz’s newborn son.
If, like me, you found Lewis’s original novel a bit slow moving, the movie will deliver some special effects thrills that rival Lord of the Rings. The screenwriters changed the structure of the story as well, allowing them to contrast the four children with Prince Caspian.
The battle scenes are action-packed. Even though most viewers will have read the book and know the outcome, you will feel some distress as Peter battles King Miraz and as brave little Reepicheep, one of Lewis’s own favorite characters, struggles to live. The woods come alive, the dwarfs battle valiantly, monsters appear from under water, and Aslan himself delivers his people, making this as Old Testament allegorical as you will ever get.
Three years ago I wrote in The Banner that I thought the pacing in the first Narnia film was a bit slow. However, in the extended preview of Prince Caspian, director Andrew Adamson has created a film that is darker, livelier, and much swifter in its storytelling
by Mischa Berlinski
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
Journalist Mischa Berlinski (a fictional character named after the author) attempts to discover why deceased anthropologist Martiya van der Leun murdered David Walker, a missionary from an eccentric family who had served in Burma and Thailand for decades. When Berlinski interviews the Walkers, as well as the Dyalo—the hill tribe van der Leun studied—he exposes the failure of both the culturally insensitive missionaries and the scientifically minded anthropologist to fathom a foreign culture. Rambling and insightful, this novel, which contains some profanity, shows God’s mercy reaching people in unlikely ways. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
reviewed by Randall D. Engel
For wordsmiths, websites don’t get much better. Select the correct meaning of an obscure word and 20 grains of rice are donated to hungry people through the United Nations World Food Program, courtesy of the site’s sponsors. The vocabulary challenge and automated scoring will keep your interest, as will the graphic of the (hopefully) growing rice basket. More information about the world’s hungry on the site would be helpful, and the connection between vocabulary building exercises and world hunger is unclear. Nevertheless, FreeRice.com offers wholesome activity for a good cause.
by Todd Agnew
reviewed by Paul Delger
Deep-voiced Agnew tackles an array of questions and difficult situations in his latest release. In the song “If You Wanted Me,” those questions include, “If you wanted me to die to myself, why’d you make me fall so deeply in love with life; if you wanted me to surrender, why’d you make these hands able to hold on so tight?” Agnew presents refreshing honesty about issues such as divorce and loneliness in “Lovers in Our Heads” and alcoholism in “On a Corner in Memphis.” (Integrity)
The Way Is Made by Walking
by Arthur Paul Boers
reviewed by Sonya VanderVeen Feddema
On his 31-day trek along the 500-mile pilgrimage route of Camino de Santiago in Spain, Arthur Boers became more aware of God at work in every detail, more sensitive to the spiritual needs of fellow pilgrims, and more convinced of the need to simplify his life. Before returning home, he had a challenging dream of which he remembered one refrain: “I walk at the intersection of the true Camino and real life.” Boers realized that “ultimately, pilgrimage bears fruit at home where it overlaps and infiltrates and alters one’s life.” (InterVarsity)
The Art of Simple Food
by Alice Waters
reviewed by Rita Selles
“When you have the best and tastiest ingredients, you can cook very simply and the food will be extraordinary because it tastes like what it is.” This is the basic principle behind Alice Waters’s new cookbook. It is an indispensable resource for the novice as well as the experienced cook, from stocking your kitchen to mastering fundamentals and preparing accessible, seasonally inspired meals. This book will push you to the market (or to start your own garden) and then to your kitchen, if you can put it down. (Random House)
‘Tis the Season: Baker Books offers two titles for your political pleasure: Beyond Left and Right by Amy E. Black and The Scandal of Evangelical Politics by Ronald J. Sider.
Take Two Tablets: Eerily similar to Disney’s Prince of Egypt, the familiar voices of Ben Kingsley and Christian Slater tell the story of Moses in the animated DVD The Ten Commandments. (Genius)
Close Up: Looking for insight into contemporary movies? Christian movie critic Jeffrey Overstreet reviews films on his website, lookingcloser.org, and discusses his life of “dangerous moviegoing” in his book, Through a Screen Darkly. (Regal)
Not So Goofy: Teen girls might enjoy the Goofyfoot Gurl manga series, centered on a young surfer named Suki and her friends. (Thomas Nelson)