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Saturday, Dec. 17, 2005 12:18 AM

The film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' masterwork is enjoyable fantasy fare. The cast is marvelous, as are the special effects which provide, if you will excuse the pun, the lion's share of the journey into Narnia.

And while the film is drawing notice for the Christian themes present in the story, defining Lewis' work solely as a Christian fable renders it a shallow tale, bereft of deeper meaning. Lewis' imaginary world is, much as the Middle-Earth of his contemporary, J.R.R. Tolkien, far more magical than that.

There are general themes running throughout the story, including the loss of innocence that follows in the wake of war. Edmund's self-centeredness and uninformed quest for importance is far more prevalent in today's world than we might believe. And the White Witch's failure to fully comprehend the Deep Magic of Narnia stands a warning of the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Lewis appears to have drawn upon Norse mythology for his setting. The century-long winter that grips Narnia may be no less than the Fimbulwinter, the precursor to Ragnarok - the end of the world. Then, too, the White Witch, who rules over the frozen land, keeps company with dwarves and giants, among other beasts of legend, not unlike the denizens of the frozen realm of Nifelheim.

Of course, rather than settle for the panoramic vistas and special effects, I would encourage children to read the books upon which the film is based, and let their imaginations take them on their own journey into Lewis' enchanted realm.

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