Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Those names, those perfect little names...
I have loved the movie so much that I can’t write straight. Words are just tumbling out from everywhere and there’s no reason, really, to hold them back. Yes, the outcome is a bit chaotic but what the hell? It’s not everyday that a film like this gets made.
‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe’ is the most exquisite, delicious, scrumptious swirl of an adventure with chopped bits of mesmerism and dollops of pounding drama.
I want to remember everything about this movie and remember it forever. Every single moment that I sat through was filled with that tremble that you can only feel as a child about to embark on something new and happy – like getting home to read a new book or putting sparkly stickers on a letter to a pen-friend, or finally eating a huge bowl of jelly and ice-cream.
There is something ageless about innocence. The excitement of a child that is so piquant and dreamy at the same time. ‘The Chronicles..’ captures that essence very artfully. You first hear the footfalls of adventure when the children decide to play hide and seek one rainy afternoon. And after that, it’s just a dazzling ride.
The littlest child hides in a wardrobe swathed in fur coats. She moves back one step at a time, pushing through one coat after another. Finally, she stumbles and falls into the white, white world of snow.
What is remarkable is that the sequence of a child moving through fur coats and falling into winter wonderland is repeated four times – once with each child. And with each child, you see that world anew.
Equally impressive is the way snow is used in the adventure’s landscape. To show a fantasy – a pristine world cloaked in lyrical phantasmagoria (a poem by C.S.Lewis, by the way), there is gentle snowfall. To show the evil spell of a witch, there is a vista of cemented snow. To show the extreme ‘take no hostages’ sentiment in the confrontation scenes, there is ice.
And the drama is…what can I say, pulmonary.
The way the perfect piece of Turkish delight squishes in Ed’s fingers when he has it. I was licking my lips rather noticeably then.
Or the way the music swells when Aslan, the lion, makes his very first appearance.
In fact, when the witch’s wolf pounces on Ed (who has mistaken it for a statue), my heart just leaped to the right and then skipped back in place.
And then there’s the stunning scene when the witch freezes the creatures to death. That’s awesome.
Try not to feel something when Aslan walks to his sacrifice amidst trolls and ogres, when he lies helplessly as they pull off his mane. Try not to feel something when the armies confront each other at battle. The drums roll and the witch’s army rush forward – the giants, cheetahs, gnomes, and other bodies of distorted strength. Peter raises his sword to beckon the falcons and the sky is filled with spans of birds carrying rocks. Just try not to feel anything then. Just try.
And the exquisite part is how you get that ‘dream within a dream’ feeling. Fantasy and reality segue seamlessly. You’re left in that haze you feel when you’ve napped for a long time and you don’t know whether it’s still afternoon or night.
But verily, absolutely, completely, most of all, is the impeccable choice of names. ‘Peter’, ‘Susan’, ‘Edmond’, and ‘Lucy’ – just the proper names for regular kids who could have extraordinary turns of events one rainy afternoon.
Then there’s ‘Jadis’ – perfect moniker for this icy cruel witch who swans around in glacial splendor wearing gowns worthy to be seen in Academy Awards.
And ‘Aslan’ – quiet, deep, roaring magnificence. Aslan – see how proud and refined it sounds?
Finally there’s ‘Narnia’. I’m reminded of this bit in West Side Story where the boy falls in love with Maria. He sings, ‘Maria – you say it loudly and you hear music there; you say it softly and it sounds like a prayer.’
Narnia – so bejeweled a name. It’s the name of a dominion for which pride would clash with power. It sounds like the muted descent of a snowflake that would get fixed on a girl’s eyelashes. Narnia – this place wouldn’t have legends or stories or myths or tales. It would have ‘chronicles’.
Narnia. Narnia. Narnia. You say it and you feel your voice getting italicized.
Narnia. Sigh! Narnia.