1. Disney Pulls Out of Narnia Films, but Walden Media Remains Committed:
Numerous articles have recently appeared announcing the decision announced on Christmas Eve by Walt Disney Pictures not to co-finance The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the films based on C.S. Lewis's beloved, 7-volume book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Disney officials point to "budget considerations" during the economic downturn and poorer performance of the film version of Prince Caspian. In this regard, the first film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, received $745 million internationally at the box office, while Prince Caspian received $419 million. However, some of this decline resulted from a weak and mangled script by director Andrew Adamson, who refused to embrace the full story and theme of the book, as Yahoo! Movies notes in its review:
In addition, as NewsMax reports:
Furthermore, Disney flatly refused to have any pre-screenings of Prince Caspian and would not pursue any special marketing of the film to churches and other Christian markets. In direct contrast, for the first film an extensive and highly effective marketing campaign directed by Motive Entertainment (the marketing experts from Passion of the Christ fame) produced an enormous response from Christian movie goers. Disney however presented Prince Caspian as a strictly secular and violent, fantasy/adventure/romance, and the result was all too predictable.
Meanwhile, interest in the Narniad book series and Lewis's work overall continues to grow unabated among the public worldwide. And here in her January 1st column entitled "A 'Chronicles of Narnia' voyage Disney should take," Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara gives Disney a well-deserved scolding for being so short-sighted. The most likely new partner for Walden Media is Fox, which already markets and distributes Walden films using the Fox Walden banner.
2. Stage Performances:
A. The Great Divorce Plays to Rave Reviews in Philadephia:
Based on C.S. Lewis superb novel, The Great Divorce, actor Anthony Lawton's recent solo show at the St. Stephen's Theater in Philadephia has been described as "remarkable . . . entertaining as well as thought-provoking":
"Masterful solo show of a C.S. Lewis tale," by Toby Zinman (Philadelphia Inquirer, December 29, 2008)
B. The Screwtape Letters Is Extended in Chicago Through 2/15/09:
The Screwtape Letters, the entertaining and provocative theatrical adaptation of the bestselling novel by C.S. Lewis about spiritual warfare from a demon's point of view, has extended its run at The Mercury Theater, 3745 N. Southport Avenue, through February 15th. The play also enjoyed sold-out runs Off-Broadway in New York and in Washington, D.C. Produced by the Fellowship for the Performing Arts, the pay stars Max McLean and Yvonne Gougelet.
"The Screwtape Letters Gets Extended Through 2/15/09" (Broadway World News, December 23, 2008)
C. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe in Birmingham, England:
The Birmingham Repertory Theatre's dramatization of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe will continue through January 17th, in Birmingham, England.
"Timeless play brings festive cheer to theatregoers" (Stourbridge News, December 27, 2008)
3. Articles on Christianity and Culture:
A. C.S. Lewis at Christmas Time and Into the New Year:
"OK, Virginia, There's No Santa Claus. But There Is God," by Tony Woodlief (Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2008)
"Christmas season is a time for faith to shine," by Cal Thomas (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, December 25, 2008)
"Unsurprising Bigotry," by Quin Hillyer (American Spectator, December 31, 2008)
"To give or not to give," by Gary Hayden (Asia One, December 21, 2008)
"Recipient of an undeserved blessing," by Jim Garringer (Chronicle-Tribune, December 30, 2008)
"The Wind in the Willows at 100," by Gary Kamiya (Salon.com, January 3, 2009)
"A Conservative-Libertarian Booklist for Spectator Readers," by Hunter Baker (American Spectator, December 29, 2008)
"The Advent of Humility," by Tim Keller (Christianity Today, December 22, 2008)
"Friendless men," by Anthony Bradley (World Magazine, December 31, 2008)
B. Anti-Christian Bigotry and Culture:
"God Is a Problem, Sources Say: How secular newsrooms handle stories with a religious component," by Vincent Carroll (Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2008)
"A Skeptic's Appreciation of Narnia," by David Theroux (CSLewis.com, December 15, 2008)
"Harry Potter fails to cast spell over Professor Richard Dawkins," by Martin Beckford and Urmee Khan (London Telegraph, October 25, 2008) In pursuing his jihad to demolish what he calls the "Judeo-Christian myth," atheist fundamentalist Richard Dawkins is writing a new book to attack children's fantasy, including Harry Potter, as "child abuse," because such stories are "anti-scientific." Look out Peter Cottontail, Humpty Dumpty, Merlin, Three Little Pigs, Alice, Paul Bunyan, Rat and Mole, and Captain Hook, not to mention the work of Homer, Virgil, Shakespeare, Swift, Dante, Milton, Tolkien, etc.!
4. Upcoming C.S. Lewis Society Event:
C.S. Lewis Society Bay Area Book and Film Club (See year-long schedule here)
Meets bi-weekly Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.
The upcoming meeting will be held at:
January 7 and 21: Discussion:
The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism, by C.S. Lewis
The first book written by C.S. Lewis after his conversion, The Pilgrim’s Regress is, in a sense, a record of Lewis's own search for meaning and spiritual satisfaction that eventually led him to Christianity. It is the story of John and his odyssey to an enchanting island which has created in him an intense longinga mysterious, sweet desire. John's pursuit of this desire takes him through adventures with such people as Mr. Enlightenment, Media Halfways, Mr. Mammon, Mother Kirk, Mr. Sensible, and Mr. Humanist and through such cities as Thrill and Eschropolis, as well as the Valley of Humiliation. Though the dragons and giants here are different from those in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, Lewis's allegory performs the same function of enabling the author to say with fantasy and simplicity what would otherwise have demanded a full-length philosophy of religion. In Lewis's hands, this fable becomes as effective a Christian defense as Bunyan's.
"The allegorical characters are not just abstractions. They are, in every instance, people objectively real and subjectively true to the inner meaning. The language throughout is plain, straightforward and leanly significant. To many it will seem like a fresh wind blowing across arid waters."
New York Times Book Review
". . . an excellent book. In its sharp imagery, its clever inferences, its suspense, its characterization, and its occasional grotesque humor, it stands favorable comparison with its great model by John Bunyan."
5. Other Events:
A. International Colloquium on Perelandra with Second Premiere of Perelandra: The Opera
Sponsored by the Oxford C.S. Lewis Society
This opera by Donald Swann and David Marsh was originally written between 1960 and 1964, with enthusiastic support from C.S. Lewis. In a l962 letter to Marsh, Lewis wrote, "I think [the libretto] just stunningly good. It brought tears to my eyes in places. Done right, it will be terrific. I very heartily congratulate you." The opera was also very dear to Swann's heart, and contains some of his most lyrical music.
When first premiered, the opera received enthusiastic reviews in Oxford, Cambridge, London and later New York. However, the sale of the film rights shortly after Lewis's death placed a long-term embargo on its performance. The opera is now receiving a long-awaited second premiere. It is to be performed in its original, three-act version as a "theatrical oratorio" and recorded by Oxford Records.
Call for Papers (literary, theological, historical, musical, etc.): Abstracts of 150-500 words
Abstract submission Information
Perelandra: The Opera, by Donald Swann (music) and David Marsh (libretto)
Competition for Subject-related Artwork
Judge: Alan Lee, Academy Award-winning artist from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
Artwork submission Information
B. "Beyond the Wardrobe: Into the World of C.S. Lewis on a Tour of Ireland and England"
Sponsored by Will Vaus Ministries
C. "Everything Guide to C.S. Lewis and Narnia"
Sponsored by Orthodox Christian Resource Center, Stanford University
D. "C. S. Lewis"
Sponsored by the C.S. Lewis Institute
January 21, 2009, 7:00-8:30 p.m.: "C. S. Lewis - The Writer and Friend of All Story Tellers"
January 28, 2009, 7:00-8:30 p.m.: "Caught Off-Guard: C. S. Lewis - The Apologist to Our Generation for Christian Faith"
For yourself and others, you can order books by or about C.S. Lewis, as well as videos and DVDs plus audio tapes and CDs.
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