Re: [mythsoc] The Voice of Aslan
On 12/21/2010 6:45 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote:
>> It is about whether it is in the least
>> appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
>> Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author,
> No, it isn't. The only people accusing Mr. Nelson of saying that
> (except as a fragment of what he said which keeps his meaning no more
> than stripping "I do not think" off the beginning of a quotation) are
> liars or mistaken. He said "to me, Aslan represents" -- which makes
> Mr. Lewis's statements about what Aslan represents to him (or as
> intended in the text) completely irrelevant to the discussion.
It is unnecessary to accuse Mr. Neeson (not Nelson) of anything. Like
any celebrity out on the circuit, Neeson has a set of standard replies
to questions on his subject. The only complete video I could find of an
interview with him is on "Beliefnet". It can be seen at:
Question: "What is the takeway message with Aslan from the movies?"
Neeson: "I don't like using the word 'message.' But, I mean, he stands
for, you know, if one is a Christian, he's a Christ-like figure. He's
also Muhammad. He's also Buddha, you know, if we're talking about the
great religions in the world. He's a great prophet but he's also a
mentor, and he's kind of a guardian angel for these kids. And he's the
voice of reason. And he gets them, the children, to confront who they
are as human beings and to take responsibility for the decision they
make. . . . And he's more, of course."
Nothing about "in my opinion" in this instance. Of course, it is
unreasonable to expect Neeson to say anything except what he thinks. But
it would be naive to suggest he does interviews without a great deal of
input from those making and marketing the movie. Those same people have
been extremely anxious to mend fences with Christians, publicly, after
the response to the previous Narnia film. I wonder whether they truly
understand the core nature of the objections.
I was nearly as bothered by Neeson's idea that the correct way to answer
the question, "Why did Lewis pick a lion?" was to go to Africa and look
at lions. The awesome reality of lions is only secondarily related to
why Lewis picked one to be Narnia's Christ.
> It is now not uncommon, when performing Merchants of Venice, to
> present Shylock as a tragic figure. This does not do violence to
> Shakespere's opinion (in which this was almost certainly not his
> intent); instead it merely adds new components to the dialogue between
> director, actor, and audience, allowing the work to be relevant to
> them personally.
"The Merchant of Venice" is perhaps not the best example, because a
number of competent critics have argued that the playwright *did* intend
Shylock to be seen sympathetically, or at least ambiguously. The kind of
adaption that chooses one possibility over another is both unavoidable
On the other hand, I was about ten years old when I first read an
adaptation of "Hamlet" that interpreted Ophelia as a full co-conspirator
with the Prince from the first appearance of the ghost. That irritated
the heck out of me then, and still does. Adapt all you want, it's as
time-honored as research. Shakespeare often did it himself. But don't
call it Shakespeare when it isn't.
>> I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",
>> with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
>> represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
>> Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian".
> If the person doing the voice was a strident anarchist who thought
> that political parts were the source of all evil in teh world, why
> would they -not- say this? Moreover, assuping they did a good job in
> the role, why should this matter to anyone?
It would matter very much if the person claimed, "this is George
Orwell's Animal Farm"; because it would not be true. Truth, and words,
were a central part of Orwell's motivation. If someone transferred
Orwell's work to another medium, violated Orwell's vision, and still
said "this is Orwell" it would be ... ironic.
It could be argued, however, that "pigs as any political party" is
indeed what Orwell meant. If a reasonable case were made, Orwell's
vision would not have been violated. (We would still lose the story of
Orwell's disillusionment as communism morphed into Stalinism.)
When someone alters the central vision of an original when he adapts it,
but still attempts to benefit by identifying his own work with the
original, he is being dishonest, in my opinion. Christianity did not
wander into Narnia by accident, nor having arrived was it allowed to
remain by mere sufferance. Lewis and the internal evidence are clear.
Aslan *is* Narnia's Christ, and that is the very reason the books were
written. Aslan is not Narnia's Buddha, or Mohammed. (It is not at heart
a merely sectarian question. Aslan is not Narnia's Abraham, or Solomon,
or Peter, either.)
Make an animated film about three children whisked away into a world of
talking animals, where there is a prophet and leader who appears as the
great lion Ramrar. Don't mention C.S. Lewis. Don't call the world
Narnia. I might not like the result, but the criticisms levied at Liam
Neeson would not apply.
- "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...> wrote:
>The article you find to be "vile ... full of hatred and evilWow. That's just ... croggling. Wow.
>generalities" I find to be matter of fact and moderate
>However, the realSince that's not what Neeson said, whatever that's a relevant question to, it's not relevant to his comments.
>question here is not about Islam. It is about whether it is in the least
>appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
>Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author, made repeated statements that
>Aslan represents Jesus Christ, the son of God and founder of the
>I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",Actually, Orwell would have been pretty dismayed at any suggestion that only Soviet Communists could behave in the manner of his fictional pigs. His allegory was straightforward, but he did want his moral lessons to have a wider application.
>with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
>represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
>Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian". Orwell made it clear
>who the pigs were. Other, inclusive, identifications would do violence
>to the central vision behind his book.
>When someone alters the central vision of an original when he adapts it,Indeed, but Neeson isn't the person who adapted the movie. Criticize his comments on their own grounds, but that doesn't affect the movie, which is quite faithful to Lewis's religious view as shown in the book, including (a nearly verbatim reproduction, as I recall, of) Aslan's statement that in the children's own world, "I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia."
>but still attempts to benefit by identifying his own work with the
>original, he is being dishonest, in my opinion. Christianity did not
>wander into Narnia by accident, nor having arrived was it allowed to
>remain by mere sufferance. Lewis and the internal evidence are clear.
- There was some discussion of it on Hugh Hewitt's radio show several weeks ago; the consensus being that Neeson (who is apparently a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism) either doesn't understand his faith or hasn't bothered to read CSL.
But why anyone should care what the actor thinks is puzzling to me-- we should care what the author thinks and we should care whether the director & producer create a film which lines up with the author's purpose, not even whether they (director and/or producer) agree with the author's view. The actors are beside the point.
I realize that actors are high profile and all but one might as well ask the gaffer's opinion.
-- Lynn --
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
> Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for Buddha or Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a link to a (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
> --John R.
- To me it seems a matter of what Tolkien described as confusing 'allegory' with 'applicability'.Though Neeson does forget to sprinkle every statement with variants of 'in my opinion' and 'to me', it is nonetheless, in my opinion, clear that he is speaking of applicability to himself rather than anything in 'the purposed domination of the author'. It might even be interesting to discuss to what extent Aslan can be applied to such other religious figures -- in acknowledgement, of course, of what Lewis intended, but in recognition also of the fact that his words possibly could be applied more widely than his intention. Sometimes it is, to me, interesting also to discuss how the author might be misunderstood/Troels
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love to give.
Live while you've got
life to live.
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