Saturday, July 15, 2006

A Winter’s Tale

A winter’s day today, one of those days with sullen clouds blanketing the sky, scarcely giving the sun a fighting chance, washing hanging questioningly on the line, as damp at the end of the day as in the morning.

We started the day off with a family viewing of Narnia. Opening a can of worms indeed.

We’d been given the DVD months ago. The adults watched it, loved it (it is absolutely brilliant, sticks closely to the book, keeps the moral message and mystery and brings out much more of the childrens’ motivation, through the background of the war) but we rated it too strong for the kids for another couple of years.

My son loved the book, when it was read to him a couple of years ago and dealt with a lot of the concepts it brings up, but he has a fear of wolves that surfaces at bed-time and gives him nightmares. Those scenes in the movie when the children are pursued by the wolf police are so vivid and fast-paced, that in self-preservation we put the movie away. The two girls, though they are less frightened by scary bits in movies generally, (and I’m talking Bambi here not Terminator 2), we thought too young for it still. The other day though, we were out shopping and saw a beguiling scene of snow on a TV in a shop window. We all stopped. Snow has the attraction and quality of a myth here. It was the scene when Lucy first goes into Narnia and meets Mr Tumnus. They were enchanted.

Back home they begged to watch the movie. At the weekend we said. When it can be watched in the morning, with us present, to hold hands and fast forward the scary bits. So we did. Fast forward through the opening bombing of London. Fast forward past the Witch. Skip over the wolves and the chase, lightly over the Stone Table and Aslan’s sacrifice, nip past the battle scene and on to the finale of the coronation. Even with all the fast forwarding it was still a powerful movie.

My six year old lay on the sofa for part of the morning, absorbing it, then accompanied me to pick some of our proteas for a flower arrangement after lunch. A barrage of questions surfaced. Complex emotional and moral stuff. What is war? Why did Edmund want to go to the witch if she is bad? Why was he mean to Lucy, pretending he didn’t get to Narnia? Why didn’t Aslan turn the witch to stone? Why did he let her kill him? Why did the Witch want to be Queen for ever? Why? Why? A lot of this I was unable to provide satisfying answers to. It is too far outside her experience. One answer did hit home. Well when you’re feeling upset, sometimes you want to make someone else feel upset too. Eventually the questions petered out for a while. By the evening, I heard her playing with her younger sister:
“I’m Aslan and you’re the Queen and I’m turning the stone animals back alive again.”
“ I’m not the Queen.”
“You’re the good Queen, Susan.”

Phew. A long day of moral issues. My son asked a lot of the heavy questions much earlier, when he was three or four. Birth, Death, War, were all asked about, given simple as possible answers, digested. But my daughter, though she has absorbed some of it by osmosis, through him knowing, a lot of those issues have just passed her by. This movie has brought up so much for her. I don’t know if it was the right time for her or whether it should have waited a while longer. Be that as it may, they are watching again tonight, just a little of it. And I’m sure they will repeat it again and again till they have got to the bottom of it and answered the questions and banished the demons it brings to the fore.

Both my daughters said their favourite part was when the children are grown up, at the very end, riding through the forest. Part of their never ending quest to be grown up themselves, a glimpse into their own future?

So snowy Narnia, damp South Africa, picking proteas, the SA rugby team losing dismally to Australia, scones for tea and lots of questions, that has been my day today.

1 comment:

  1. We too, thought the movie Narnia was too scary for our girls to watch just yet, so they've see just parts.

    And I love proteas, they grew in Hawaii by where we used to live.


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