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Film / The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

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Having noted the success of both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter movies, Disney and Walden Media decided to take their own crack at a cinematic adaptation of a children's epic fantasy adventure novel. Since the rights to J. R. R. Tolkien's books had already been taken, they instead went with a series by Tolkien's best friend, C. S. Lewis.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the first published and second chronological novel in Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia series, was released in 2005 and directed by Andrew Adamson. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, and Skandar Keynes play Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund, four British children evacuated during the Blitz to the countryside, who find a wardrobe that leads to the fantasy world of Narnia. There they ally with the Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) against the forces of Jadis, the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). The screenplay based on the novel by C. S. Lewis was written by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus.

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The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Edmund betraying the siblings in the book is said to be mostly brought on by bad influences at his school, with Peter suggesting he was too hard on him as well. The film upgrades the conflict between Peter and Edmund.
    • To a lesser extent there's some conflict between Lucy and Susan, with the two sisters clashing in the faith vs logic department. They bond in Narnia, with Susan apologising for being too cynical.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • Mr. Tumnus was portrayed as a pompous older character in the previous adaptations rather than the Pretty Boy James McAvoy is.
    • Downplayed with Jadis. In the book she is attractive but in a Cute Monster Girl sort of way — as her skin is said to be completely white and Edmund is still terrified of her. Tilda Swinton's portrayal is more traditionally attractive, as she's shown as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing at first.
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  • Adaptational Jerkass: A mild case with Peter. he has some Big Brother Bully tendencies that weren't present in the books. He does say he was too hard on Edmund at one point in the books, but it's not shown in action.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Mrs Macready didn't have her nationality stated in the books. The BBC adaptation made her Scottish, while the live action film has her as Irish.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Mrs Macready downplays this. While a typical stern housekeeper in the books, she gets two Pet the Dog moments here; her "small favors" comment when the children arrive and later taking Lucy to get some cocoa when she's found crying.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Lucy is a blonde in the books but is a brunette here. Georgie Henley's hair was actually lightened for the film but it's still noticeable. Edmund is commonly portrayed as a blond too, but is played by brunet Skandar Keynes. Peter meanwhile is dark-haired in the illustrations but blond in the film. Susan is the only Pevensie to keep her book hair colour (black). Jadis's hair color is never mentioned in the books, but illustrations give her black hair. She is a strawberry blonde in the film.
    • The BBC adaptation once again had Lucy as a brunette, and Susan as a blonde.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Being a seminal work aimed at young children, Lewis's original novel is rather short. The main emphasis is also on the spiritual subtext (Lewis was a Christian apologist and theologian). Adapting the source material for a Disney family film therefore required fleshing out some of the more latent aspects, such as the fantasy/warfare elements.
    • The film's 10-minute prologue, showing the Blitz and the Pevensies' evacuation to the countryside, is all based on a single sentence in the book: "...they were sent away from London during the war, because of the air raids."
    • Maugrim's secret police – which apparently only consisted of himself and one other wolf in the novel – is replaced with a whole pack of wolves in the film. The pursuit through the tunnel and the confrontation on the frozen river are also elements original to the screenplay.
    • The Battle at Beruna, which is only briefly described and mostly happened "offscreen" in the book, is given a vivid rendering in the film.
    • The film also greatly fleshes out the personalities of the children. Peter's Big Brother Bully tendencies are played up a lot more between him and Edmund – with Peter feeling that he has to act as a Team Dad to compensate for their father being in the war. Edmund is portrayed as much more sympathetic; the reason for his unpleasantness is shown to be a result of worry for his father and trauma from living under the Blitz (in the book, he'd grown a bad attitude after starting at a new school). Susan likewise becomes an Agent Scully type, possibly foreshadowing her later fate in the books.
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication:
    • In the books, after the kids became kings and queens of Narnia, the narration tells how they ruled successfully for years and years and were given nicknames: King Peter The Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, Queen Lucy the Valiant. In The Film of the Book, they're crowned with these names while still kids just after winning their victory, which makes them seem slightly ridiculous and over-the-top — especially in the case of Edmund, whose main contribution to the plot was betraying his siblings to the White Witch before he got better. Although it was Aslan who gave them the titles, so one could argue that he'd already know stuff like that. It's not stated outright that he knows this future, but with the other powers he has, this seems plausible.
    • It's also explained in the book that the White Witch's Turkish Delight has some mind control powers over whoever eats it, and shown that Edmund only let her get close to him out of fear, making Edmund's betrayal over a supply of candy seem far less petty.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Susan in the books doesn't have much of a personality and leans more towards a Team Mom. The film portrays her as a believer in logic and reason — often showing Arbitrary Skepticism towards Narnia. She also gets upgraded to The Lancer towards Peter, especially at the frozen waterfall sequence.
    • The Beavers in the film seem to bicker more than they do in the book, seemingly in an attempt to be Adaptational Comic Relief.
  • Adapted Out: The group of animals having Christmas dinner that get turned to stone by Jadis. Instead these roles are filled by Mr Fox (Edmund witnessing the witch's cruelty) and Beaver's friends (helpless animals turned to stone).
  • Adult Fear: The opening of the film, The Blitz. Imagine just another day in your home when suddenly the Air Raid Sirens go off and you see parts of the city just a few blocks away erupt into flames. You rush to gather your children and get to your bomb shelter but one of them rushes back into the house to get what could have been the last photo of his father should he never return from war, risking his own death. This is the situation Helen Pevensie finds herself in and it was a reality for many parents during World War II.
  • All There in the Manual: Ankle Slicers, the tiny gremlins that can be seen fighting for the Witch, are only named in behind-the-scenes materials and the tie-in video game. They're so small that it can be hard to even notice them if you don't know they're there - the fact that they're the ones who topple the rhino in the final battle borders on being a Freeze-Frame Bonus.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted. The fox is initially a shady character and Beaver initially refuses to trust him, saying all his kind work for the White Witch. The fox brushes this off as an "unfortunate family resemblance" with the wolves and proves to be good. Even the wolves are ultimately proven to subvert this as a handful were seen in the stone garden where Jadis kept all those who tried to oppose her. They are brought back to life by Aslan and join him in battle.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Susan remarks that a beaver shouldn't be speaking, never mind that she's just traveled through a wardrobe into a magical land.
  • Battle Trophy: In the final battle, Jadis wears a headdress made of Aslan's mane.
  • Big Brother Bully: This version plays it up with Peter. Although a lot of it is desire to keep Edmund out of trouble and to stop him picking on Lucy, there are a few straightforward moments like when he makes Edmund wear a girl's coat in Narnia.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: In contrast to other adaptations, where it's obvious from her first scene that she's evil, Jadis first appears friendly and inviting to Edmund. Therefore it's Mood Whiplash when she reveals her true colours.
  • Bound and Gagged: Edmund winds up tied to a tree and gagged mid-way, as Ginabrik taunts him on his upcoming fate. When Aslan sends his army to follow a wolf after Maugrim is killed, they manage to rescue Edmund... and make Ginabrik take his place as the tied-up individual.
  • Brainy Brunette: Susan becomes this, with her love of logic and reason. She also has a scene where she reads words from a dictionary and tries to get the others to guess the definitions.
  • Brick Joke:
    • When the children arrive back in the professor's house, he throws them the ball they broke the window with and hid in the wardrobe in the first place over.
    • When Edmund finds a petrified lion in the Witch's castle, he draws glasses and a moustache on its face with a piece of coal. The same lion is present during the children's coronation at the end of the movie, with the scribbles still on its face.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: Edmund breaks a window and the children's attempt to hide is what sends them into Narnia.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The film adds Oreius the centaur as someone that Peter and Edmund train with before the battle. He's one of the victims of Jadis's wand.
    • Jadis is given a Minotaur commander of her army called Otmin.
  • Chariot Pulled by Cats: Jadis the White Witch goes to battle in a carriage pulled by huge polar bears.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Beaver tells them the prophecy, Susan's reaction is to tell him it doesn't really rhyme.
  • Corpsing: The reaction shot of Peter to Aslan's "Beaver mentioned you planned on turning him into a hat" wasn't in the script. A fly was buzzing around William Moseley's head and he couldn't stop grinning.
  • Creator Cameo: Douglas Gresham (co-producer and stepson of CS Lewis) voices the radio announcer during the children's first night at the professor's.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Aslan vs. the White Witch. He charges at her, leaps, pins her to the ground, and bites her head off. It's over in about five seconds.
  • Death by Adaptation: Jadis's dwarf. Susan shoots him with an arrow in the film, whereas we never find out what happens to him in the book
  • Deadpan Snarker: Professor Kirke, of all people. When he's talking to Peter and Susan, we get this:
    Susan: It's our sister, sir. Lucy.
    Professor Kirke: The weeping girl?
    Susan: Yes, sir. She's upset.
    Professor Kirke: Hence the weeping.
  • Disney Villain Death: In the BBC adaptation this is how Jadis meets her end. Aslan roars and causes her to fall off a rock mound.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: That one Minotaur that fell dead with two swords in his back. Olé!
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Edmund destroying the Witch's petrifying wand to give Peter a shot at defending himself.
  • Dramatic Curtain Toss: Lucy discovering the wardrobe.
  • Dream Within a Dream: Subverted, the characters think their memory of a familiar place is from a dream within a dream, but it turns out to be from where they originally came from in the real world.
  • Fake Shemp:
    • Anna Popplewell put on Edmund's costume and filled in for Skandar Keynes when he had to be absent for the filming of Edmund's first scene in Narnia.
    • Ironically Anna was subject to this later in the film for the scenes with mice eating the dead Aslan's ropes away. She's afraid of mice, so they had to use a double for those scenes.
  • Fauns and Satyrs: Mr. Tumnus. He starts out trying to kidnap Lucy, but later becomes her friend. The Narnian army also has some satyrs, portrayed as resembling humanoid goats with goblin-like faces, in its ranks.
  • Feet-First Introduction: Aslan is introduced this way.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: Peter performs one of these to get to the White Witch after Edmund is (almost) killed. Oreius the centaur and an unnamed Rhino both do this to get to the White Witch earlier in the battle; unusually for this trope, the rhino doesn't make it to his goal and is killed halfway.
  • Gag Haircut: Ginnabrik gets part of his beard sliced off during the battle.
  • Ghibli Hills: By comparison with the grimness of London during the Blitz, the Professor's estate is a green and tranquil Arcadia.
  • Good Animals, Evil Animals: The armies of Aslan and the Witch are pretty much divided among these lines.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When Aslan kills the White Witch, we see is a closeup on Jadis' shocked expression and Aslan snarling into the camera before we cut away as Aslan presumably bites off her head offscreen.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...:
    Peter: We're not heroes.
    Susan: We're from Finchley!
  • Hollywood Tactics: Peter's tactics are... well exactly what you'd expect from a young boy with no training whatsoever. Despite commanding an excellent defensive position he leads his elites into a disastrous and utterly pointless head-on charge into the core of the enemy army; the resulting rout throws his own lines into complete disarray. He then tries to go toe-to-toe with Jadis, a fight he has no chance in, although he wasn't exactly thinking clearly at that moment (having seen Jadis hurt Edmund).
  • Ironic Echo:
    • The first time, Lucy travels to Narnia alone, and the other three children tell her it's her imagination. The second trip, Edmund follows her, but when the older children still don't believe it, he claims he was only playing along. He seriously hurts her feelings with, "Some little children just don't know when to stop pretending." The third trip, all four of the children go, and Lucy is exonerated. First she tells her older siblings, "Don't worry. I'm sure it's just your imagination." Then when Peter makes Edmund apologize to her, Lucy forgives him, but she stings back, "That's all right. Some little children just don't know when to stop pretending."
    • Also Peter to Edmund - "why can't you just do as your told?" - first said angrily after Edmund nearly gets bombed trying to get their dad's picture from the house. And then later said with relief that Edmund is now alive, after having saved everyone.
  • Light Is Not Good: Done with Jadis, as she's given strawberry blond hair and light-coloured make-up in contrast to more famous illustrations of her with black hair. Word of God says they thought black hair looked too gothic. Jadis does wear two black dresses in the film however - at the Stone Table and the Battle of Beruna.
  • Literally Shattered Lives: During the final battle, a griffin is turned to stone mid-flight by the White Witch and breaks into pieces when he hits the ground.
  • Malicious Slander: Jadis tells Tumnus, who is in a prison cell next to Edmund, that Edmund is the one who betrayed his secret. While Edmund did provide the information to Jadis that Tumnus had helped Lucy, this was not betrayal as Edmund mentioned it casually while he still had no idea that this was sensitive information. Of course this doesn't matter to Jadis, who is just trying to (and succeeding in) breaking Tumnus' spirit.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • Happens twice. Early in the movie, Peter chides Edmund by asking "when are you going to do as you're told?" At the end, after Lucy heals his near fatal injuries with her cordial, Peter asks the same question, this time thankfully.
    • Upon leading Lucy to exit Narnia the first time, Lucy sees Tumnus emotional and offers him her handkerchief. After he tries to give it back, she tells him to keep it as he needs it more. At the end, as Lucy watches Aslan walk off, Tumnus comes up to her and offers her his handkerchief with the same line.
    • The eagles and griffons' aerial bombing with rocks at the beginning of the Battle of Beruna echos the blitzkrieg of London depicted at the beginning of the movie. It's possible that Peter himself came up with the tactic based on his experiences from his own time/planet.
  • Mistaken for Granite: At the witch's castle, Edmund goes through a foyer full of statues of animals. As he tries to step over one similarly snow-covered wolf statue, it raises, knocking him down to reveal he is not a statue.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    White Witch: Tell me, Edmund. Are your sisters deaf?
    Edmund: ...No.
    White Witch: And your brother, is he... unintelligent?
    Edmund: Well, I think so, but Mum says—
    White Witch: THEN HOW DARE YOU COME ALONE?
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • Jadis's dwarf is unnamed in the book but called 'Ginnabrik' in the film. Word of God says this is a reference to Nikkabrik from the second book - the dwarf who wishes to resurrect Jadis - and suggests the two could be related.
    • The Pevensie mother's name isn't revealed in the book's either. But Georgie Henley ad-libbed "my mother's name is Helen" when she meets Mr. Tumnus (Helen being her mother's name in real life).
  • Oh, Crap!: Jadis' face says it all when she hears from Edmund that ASLAN is back.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Mermaids are briefly glimpsed before the coronation scene. They're shown to have additional fins either side of their tails.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: Dryads are tree spirits who only become visible as patterns within blowing leaves, flower petals and other plant material.
  • The Phoenix: Aslan's army has one that fights in battle. It uses its powers to create a wall of fire on the battlefield.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • When Peter first pulls out his sword against Maugrim during the standoff on the river, he noticeably fidgets with the weapon, and shows very real reluctance to kill Maugrim, noticeably grimacing at the thought of killing Maugrim in self defence. Peter has never used a sword in his life, and even though he is the eldest of the siblings, he is still a teenager who still balks at killing even in self defence. Maugrim notices this and mocks him for it.
    • Peter, a teenager given sword lessons just a few days ago, against the White Witch, an adult woman who is immortal and with much more experience. Even with Unstoppable Rage fueling him, he is nowhere near skilled enough to take her on, and she is visibly toying with him throughout their entire confrontation in the final battle... then the moment she turns serious, he can barely fend her off at all before she proves too much.
    • What happens when an enormous amount of ice starts breaking apart? An enormous flash flood that washes away any form of scent. The wolves noticeably are stated to be exhausted from having chased them. The children's scent was washed away, so they had to look for the children the hard way.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • The Pevensie siblings can be differenced by this, with Peter and Lucy represented by Red, due to the fact that they are more intuitive, vibrant, determined and, to an extent, more sensitive than Edmund and Susan, who are more logical, cold and down to earth, inclined towards the Blue part. Even their hair show it, due to the fact that Peter and Lucy have lighter hair, while Edmund and Susan are dark haired.
    • And even the book's religious subtext organizes them as this, since Peter and Lucy are meant to represent the better Apostles, Peter being named High King, representing the Apostle Peter, who in reality is the first Leader of the Christian church after Christ ascended, and Lucy, who represents Saint John, who had the most faith in Jesus, just like Lucy has in Aslan. On the other side, Edmund represents Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for silver, just like Edmund betrays Aslan for Turkish Delight, and Susan, who represents "Doubting Thomas", because she loses her faith completely in Aslan and Narnia.
  • Reverse Mole: Fox is truly on Aslan's side but pretends to serve the Witch.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Fox is turned to stone in the second act, just to show that Jadis is not messing around. As with the example below, he turns out to be fine by the end.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Besides the more obvious example, Oreus the centaur exists to fight in the battle and be killed off by the witch. Subverted later when Aslan reverses the stone-process, and he then shows up as part of a guard at the kid's coronation.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift:
    • Tilda Swinton described Jadis's dress as a "mood thermometer", reflecting her status in the film. Notably she wears a crown of icicles at the beginning of the film — which also shrinks as her power wanes, and she goes without it in the latter parts.
    • The Pevensies change into Narnian clothes around the time they accept their destinies.
  • Strange Secret Entrance: The eponymous wardrobe which acts as an entrance to Narnia.
  • This Is Reality: When Peter is talking about what Beaver has just said, Susan responds "he's a beaver! He shouldn't be saying anything!"
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the first movie, Susan is seen doing some target practice with her bow and arrow. She hits the ring just around the bull’s-eye. Then Lucy throws her knife at the target and hits dead centre.
  • Too Important to Walk: After the thaw renders her sleigh moot, Jadis resorts to having it carried by a cadre of cyclops. In the battle she also has a chariot pulled by polar bears.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Taken Up to Eleven in this adaptation, as Jadis wears Aslan's shorn mane into battle as a pelt the next day.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: It's justified with Mr. Tumnus because the character is a faun.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Jadis in the Battle of Beruna. She stabs Edmund when he smashes her wand and duels with Peter with the full intent of killing him. Overall Jadis's whole plan involves killing the children.

Alternative Title(s): The Chronicles Of Narnia The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe

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