C.S. Lewis is the author of the "Chronicles of Narnia" books. Known as Jack, he teaches at Oxford during the 1950s. An American fan, Joy Gresham, arrives to meet him for tea in Oxford. It is the beginning of a love affair. Tragically, Joy becomes terminally ill and their lives become complicated.Written by
Matthew Stanfield <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jack and Joy actually spent their honeymoon in Greece, not that search for the "Golden Valley". Outside of his Army stint in WW1, Jack had never left England before and was unsure about traveling to Greece. He was afraid it wouldn't live up to what he had imagined. After reading Homer and Aristotle (in Greek) he had built up quite a mental image. The trip did not disappoint him. See more »
Many people seeing this film who are familiar with CS Lewis' writings will be tempted to be disappointed.
They should not be. In defense of this film and the method used to get the results, I have two things to say.
The first, and by far the most important, is that spiritual films are very difficult to make -- especially if one is speaking about something above one's head. That's why the life of Jesus is such a difficult subject and has met with so little success, at least from an artistic point of view.
Even Mel Gibson's Passion suffers from this to some extent. I would say his representation of the Passion reflect more of our times and what we consider to be important than on the ministry of Jesus. I may be wrong; I am not a believer so my opinion may not matter. But what is true is that no matter what your belief, spiritual man (Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha and others) are very hard to make biographies of. In my opinion what they represented survived not because we have understanding, but because our instincts tell us they are what we should be. It is not a mind thing at all. AND FILMS REQUIRE OUR MINDS, at least to make them. It would take a soul equal to that of Christ to make a film about Christ.
To a far lesser extent, that is true of CS Lewis. His was a very complex theology dressed in wonderful parables. He had a great understanding of the parables and used the same technique. It does little good to discuss his theology in a film that is about 2 hours long. In fact, the viewer is sort of expected to know something about his writings and theology.
Which brings me to my second point. Perhaps it is because I am over 60 and not been brought up on Romances that I find this one so appealing. Here was a man that had lived his entire life one way, mostly in his mind, when he was confronted with feelings that demanded he reinterpret everything he believed. How many of us at his age could do what CS Lewis did?
Here was a man that thought one way and was forced to live another. What the mind is a very poor substitute for what our emotions understand. CS Lewis was very quick, I think, to recognize this and embraced it completely once he found it out.
Douglas Davidman Gresham (Joy Gresham's son), has said that the film is perhaps not completely factually correct, but the emotion representation is "spot on".
For me, no truer words could be spoken. What does it matter what details are missing, or changed because we have only 2 hours to tell a story? What matters is that we see the humanity of the man and his wonderful ability to embrace openly his new found emotions are what matters. And to put this into his spiritual structure was even more remarkable.
It's a good film. Enjoy it and pay attention. It requires an open heart and an open mind. Give it both.
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