Tag Archives: Narnia

More movie tales from Narnia

My oldest child, Christopher, has always been more of a doer than a reader. He wants to explore his own world rather than read about the worlds of others. 

But “Narnia” was a rare exception when he was in elementary school. I recall reading to and with him from C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” series — and the excitement we shared each time we finished one and got to hit the bookstore for another.

We always bought the hard cover editions with gorgeous cover art, and regarded them as real treasures that would transport us on adventures of the mind and imagination.

Recently we enjoyed an advance screening of the latest “Narnia” movie — titled “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” I was eager to see it because I quite enjoyed “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” when it was in theaters several years ago. (As a Colorado native transplanted to Arizona, I was especially fond of the forest scenes and snowy settings.)

“Dawn Treader” has less snow, but more sea. The movie was filmed in a few places, but none more stunning than Australia. It’s a visually pleasing work with or without the 3-D experience. Plenty of scenes take place aboard a ship, so it’s a fab flick for pirate lovers and seafaring souls.

Who knew one could enjoy a swashbuckling adventure in the absence of Johnny (originally a “Christopher”) Depp? This was true revelation. (Of course, there’s always the new movie “The Tourist” for those of you desperately in need of a Depp fix.)

I typically balk when I hear assertions like “there’s nothing new under the Sun” or “no idea is a truly new idea.” But I am starting to develop an annoying habit of finding oodles of other movies in every new movie I see. “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” was no exception.

Picture “Indiana Jones” meets “Pirates of the Caribbean” — then add a touch of “Ghostbusters,” “Harry Potter,” and final scenes of Disney’s “Enchanted.” Even echos of the television series “Lost.” Happily, it works. And that’s all that matters.

“Return of the Dawn Treader” is a sort of swashbuckling story meets theological treatise — with emphasis, luckily, on the storytelling. The religious views of C.S. Lewis, original author of the “Narnia” tales, inform much of his work — as do prevailing issues of the day. What’s the balance of destiny and free will? What gives the dark side of man its power?

I tend to view such films as gateways to analysis and dialogue. What was the historical context when C.S. Lewis wrote these works? What about the time period in which the action supposedly takes place? How does art reflect life in Lewis’ work? And what value are books and film in naming and critiquing individual values and cultural mores?

Then again, you can just wing it with the flying dragon vibe. No theological study needed to embrace the humor of the movie’s fencing mouse — or the other land, sea and air creatures the children encounter in their quest to save “Narnia.” (The creatures who bounce playfully on a single large foot are my favorites.)

If you favor thinking of the lion Aslan as a diety, then go for it. If you’re happy to leave his lionhood at that, you’ll still enjoy the tale. But either way you’ll notice religious and ethical concepts, such as the power and necessity of belief, throughout.

My one frustration with attending the UltraLuxe Scottsdale theater was that they have yet to work out a few of the kinks.

Clearly the person who designed this venue, despite its lush decor, wasn’t mother to a preschooler who needed a shelf in the bathroom stall, a super speedy concessions line or a cup holder that squared with the large size drink.

Take note theater folk: The truest test of a family-friendly venue is the ease of using it for the parents whose patronage you seek. Because this cinema has some nifty parent and child-friendly programs, I hope they’ll make some more strides in these areas.

Still, two out of my three “kids” have experienced this theater now — and they both give it high praise. The seats are comfy, the sound is excellent, and the staff are friendly and courteous.

But check it out yourself — and let me know both what you think of the luxury cinema atmosphere and what you think of some of the new movies out there this holiday season.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn more about C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) from HarperCollins Publishers. And be sure to stay as the movie’s credits roll to enjoy delightful drawings by original illustrator Pauline Baynes (1922-2008) and the new Carrie Underwood song titled “There’s a Place for Us.”

Coming up: James Bond meets 39 Steps

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From Senegal to Seeger

Michael J. Miles performs on banjo at the MIM this Wednesday

I’m told there’s a gentleman who has quite the diverse banjo repetoire, and will be playing seven of these babies Wednesday night at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix — in a concert dubbed “From Senegal to Seeger.”

He’s Michael J. Miles — musician, composer and musical playwright. Think J.S. Bach. Woody Guthrie. And wordsmiths like Walt Whitman too. They’re all part of this picker’s performance art.

Michael J. Miles sports an impressive banjo collection

Miles’ concert is described as a sort of “social and political portrait of America.” And it makes me wonder. Is there some odd alignment of banjo playing with brilliance?

I ask because only yesterday morning I witnessed Renaissance man Steve Martin playing banjo on CBS News Sunday Morning. Martin also spoke of his experiences with art and his newest novel, titled “An Object of Beauty.”

The banjo has its own special sort of beauty

If you’ve never considered the banjo itself, or the music it makes possible, an object of beauty — it might be time for you to experience the banjo up close and personal.

Perhaps at the MIM Museum Encounter this Wed, Dec 8, at 11:30am or 2:30pm. It’s an opportunity to “meet Miles and hear his entertaining mix of music, history, literature, politics and humor.”

Miles makes a serious fashion statement with this banjo

MIM Museum Encounters are free with museum admission, so you can explore the MIM collection of banjos and other instruments while you are there.

And it won’t cost you a thing to jump online and watch the Steve Martin segment on yesterday’s CBS News “Sunday Morning” show — as well as their hour-long webcast.

If you conjure images of “King Tut” or “Pink Panther” when you think of Steve Martin, you’ve got quite a bit of catching up to do. He’s also author, musician, art collector and more.

Martin makes his own "Peace Corps" fashion statement

I love his description of writing — really three simple elements — which is part of the interview you can listen to by clicking here. I’m off to curl up with “An Object of Beauty” now, so I can enjoy the theory put into practice.

The upcoming Miles concert also got me thinking about Arizona Theatre Company’s next production — “Woodie Guthrie’s American Song.”

It runs Dec 30, 2010-Jan 16, 2011 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix, and features “songs and writings by Woody Guthrie.”

Fans of folk and theater will appreciate this ATC offering

The “play guide” is already available online, and it looks to be stellar. It’s my next read after I’m done musing over Martin.

I’m also rather smitten with Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 work titled “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions.” Turns out Springsteen plays a mean banjo. Check out this version of “Fever” featuring Bruce on banjo if you doubt me on this one.

Some heard Springsteen play folk during concerts at ASU Gammage

Watch for a future post exploring more of the beauty of the banjo — and ways you can introduce your children to the richness of American folk music, past and present.

— Lynn

More proof that banjo players are brilliant

Note: If you’re a fan of American folk music, I hope you were tuned to PBS last night for “My Music: Folk Rewind” featuring folk singers of the ’50s and ’60s. It reminded me that the online PBS gift shop is another great resource for holiday shopping.

Coming up: “Narnia” from books to big screen, Art adventures: Arizona Science Center, Hippies hit ASU Gammage in Tempe