Reviewed by Grace Bridges
The Narnia Code
"The Narnia Code is an academic treatment of a significant scholarly discovery of the literary images and anchors Lewis hid within his stories down to a minute level."
Designed for those who have never heard of the planets theory as it relates to the Chronicles of Narnia, this documentary provides an interesting introduction to the topic. In essence, it is a description of how scholar Michael Ward discovered and researched the planetary parallels, and then came to publish his book Planet Narnia. There are also very many comments from other scholars.
There are many fascinating peeks at the life of C.S. Lewis, in the form of dramatic vignettes from various parts of his life - as a child, a young man, and finally the professor most know him as, including visits with the Inklings. We also see Mr. Ward visiting different sites of significance in Lewis' life, as well as a dedicated research institute in Illinois and his New York publisher.
Looking at the thickness of Mr. Ward's book as it appears onscreen, it is no wonder only a little of the information it contains was able to be crammed into this one-hour documentary. The actual parallels are shown only briefly, and not all of the Narnia books are covered in the main documentary. It is only said that Lewis took the planets and turned their mythological qualities into plots for each story.
No doubt this film is an ideal companion to the book Planet Narnia itself, which is obviously necessary to get the full scoop, even to specify the full list of which planet is assigned to each book. For that full connection, be sure to watch the last bonus clip "The Heart of the Code". But as a first taste of the highly scholarly subject matter, and especially if you'd rather not read hundreds of pages of Mr. Ward's book, it is very engaging.
Finally towards the end the filmmakers bring it around to show how the concealment of the planets within his tales proves that Lewis wanted there to be divine meaning in the universe - not just cold, empty scientific fact.
Of particular interest are the bonus items, which include interviews with Lewis' living friends, an in-depth look at the locations where his life and writing played out, and finally "The Heart of the Code" which provides a summary of the entire list of Narnia books, their corresponding planets, and examples of the symbolism used to anchor the hidden code. This last item is perhaps the most essential of all offered here, opening the door to further thought on the parallels and specific imagery under discussion. While I would have preferred to see this within the main film, I'm very glad it's included, even as an apparent afterthought. If you get hold of this DVD, I'd recommend watching this clip first, as it really helps to make sense of the rest of the material presented.
The Narnia Code is an academic treatment of a significant scholarly discovery
of the literary images and anchors Lewis hid within his stories down to
a minute level. It really is a wonder no one found the parallels earlier,
but now they are known and can provide much food for further thought.
Grace Bridges is a sci-fi author (Faith Awakened, 2007, and Legendary Space Pilgrims, 2010) and owner of Splashdown Books, an independent publisher of inspirational sci-fi and fantasy. She's a Kiwi of Irish descent living in beautiful New Zealand, and a chocaholic cat-lovin' Trekkie, Jesus freak, web designer, and all-round DIY gal who also takes care of the Lost Genre Guild blog. Tweets: @gracebridges - or visit www.gracebridges.com for more.
WATCH THE TRAILER: