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Lewis Opposed Live-Action Narnia

Did you know C.S. Lewis opposed a live action version of Narnia?

In a newly published letter written in 1959 to BBC producer Lance Sieveking, Lewis says:

“Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare — at least with photography. Cartoons (if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius!) wld. be another matter. A human, pantomime, Aslan wld. be to me blasphemy.”

I find it interesting that an author would reject a film adaptation of his work; certainly uncommon by today’s standards, I think. Authors would love to sell their books to Hollywood. The money Hollywood has to spend is far greater than the money publishers have. And after all, writers hope to make a living with their written work. Artistic integrity might be an issue for some, but a million buck is a million bucks.

It almost sounds like Lewis doubted the capability of the technology which, in 1959, was way,way less than what could be done today. I wonder how he’d feel if he had seen Lord of the Rings and had witnessed what could be done. Would he change his tune?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

3 Comments on Lewis Opposed Live-Action Narnia

  1. Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare

    I need a complete run of Usagi Yojimbo and a time machine. Stat!

  2. He probably would have cringed at the BBC production of his stories with those beavers–definately “buffoonery” or “nightmare”! But I’d bet if he had lived to see the LotR movies and knew the same folks were behind the film, he would have be for it.

    I also wonder how much of the film **is** Disney. Is it really a Disney movie? Or is like a Pixar film that Disney distributes. Notice that the posters say “Walden Media and Walt Disney Pictures”. Walden Media is a production company that makes films and finds other folks to distribute them. So its possible that Disney had zero input into the film other than a desire to cash in on the same audience that goes to see Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings.

    We shall see.

  3. i understand that the film was not made by Disney – they just put up the cash in exchange for distribution rights – the pic was actually produced by Walden Media – so not really a ‘Disney’ pic – as for the quality of the film, we’ll have to see…here in Belfast, (birthplace of C.S. Lewis), I’m still waiting for ‘Narnia Fever’ to hit…there is a C.S. Lewis fest starting in a couple of days so maybe that’ll be interesting

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