Long Live Aslan
Most who know me know that I have a love for Fantasy Fiction. While I enjoy serious fiction and nonfiction, Fantasy has always held a special place in my heart.
And I mean fantasy, as opposed to Science Fiction. Those who lump the two together are simply not paying attention.
I have enjoyed many, many different authors and novels: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (natch!), LeGuin's Earthsea Trilogy (and I mean "trilogy." Book 4 sucked rocks. Haven't even read book 5 yet), Brooks' Shannara series, Eddings Belgariad, and many more.
But there is always the first. In the fifth grade (when I was 10) we had, like all students, a reader. It was a series of age-appropriate stories and excerpts that we would often read aloud in class. One fateful day, dear Mrs. Chissolm asked us to open up our readers to the excerpt from a book I had never heard of, by a man I had never heard of. It was the first chapter of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.
The excerpt took Lucy into the wardrobe, to the lamppost, and off with Mr. Tumnus for tea.
To me it seemed so magical. Somehow it wasn't like Brother's Grimm fairy stories and goofy Disney movies. It was a little more... "magical" in a way. I still can't pin down why, since some of the things that really captured my attention happen a little later in the book.
I remember being concerned at first that I would never know what happened to Lucy, because I assumed that no adult other than my teacher would ever have heard of the story, and surely it was forgotten if it appeared in a stuffy old school reader. Yet I asked and soon had it checked out from the school library. I took it home and started it. The next day I would not attend school, as I had a doctor's appointment in Reno, and would be spending the day in the car with mom while we did that and other errands on her list. At the end of that day, in the back seat of mom's car, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were crowned in Cair Paravel, Aslan departed again, and the four of them went off to hunt the White Stag, returning to the mysterious lamppost, and stumbling back through the wardrobe and into our own world again.
How terribly fascinating that was! I didn't know grown people wrote stories like that.
What stuck with me the most? Perhaps when Mr. Beaver leans over to the children and whispers:
Aslan is on the move!
Aslan is on the move! I didn't know anything about the imagery and allegory Mr. Lewis had built into his stories, I only knew that the idea of Aslan being "on the move," and the idea of an ancient prophecy, and the imminence of fulfillment touched a chord deep inside me.
At the time, I didn't even know that there were a whole series of books, of which TLWW was only the first. In fact, I grew up in the happy knowledge that I had plumbed all the depths of Narnia.
At the age of 15 I met and wooed a very cute young lady (who at the very moment, though not as young as she once was, is still very cute, and is baking Christmas Cookies in the kitchen.) Once I was allowed to hang out with her (playing Intellivision (!)) in her room, I saw on her bookshelf a nice, multi-colored box set of the Chronicles of Narnia. Puzzled, I examined the spines, seeing the the first book was TLWW! There were six more! Fortunately, the cutie was already falling in love with me (silly bint) and lent me the books.
I simply plowed right through them. Sure, they were really written for youth, but I found them captivating and delightful from front to back.
As I got older, many stories I loved were made into movies. Yet I always wondered when someone would take on the Chronicles. I always thought it would be difficult, because so few of the characters are human, and most are decidedly not human.
I saw on TV some of the cartoon version, and some of the BBC/low-budget version. The story was there, but they were so cheesy that I couldn't be drawn in. I wanted to see it in full-blown, full-screen, blinding color.
When CGI became the cutting edge SFX method it is today, I thought someone must make it soon. Yet it took me by surprise when I finally heard it was coming.
So finally, today, that cutie and I, along with my dad and youngest brother, went to the movies to enter the wardrobe.
Well, I can't rightly "review" the picture. Sometimes the movie just works. Sometimes everything is just as you imagined it, enough to give you goosebumps. Not very often, perhaps only once or twice.
But I was captivated, more than ever. I was a ten-year-old all over again, and Aslan was on the move!
I doubt too many people will have the same experience I did. I doubt anyone else got goosebumps like I did. I doubt anyone else had a small tear spring to their eyes when St. Nicholas arrived in Narnia. I know nobody else clapped at the end like I did. None of the kids did, certainly. Just some pudgy, middle-aged geek in the tenth row.
But how could they know that it really was true? That there, in King City Cinema, in the tenth row, for one latent ten year old...
Aslan was on the move indeed.