C.S Lewis Rolling in his Grave?

Cory at Boing Boing has a copy of a letter from C.S. Lewis insisting that Narnia should never be adapted with live actors, calling it “blasphemy” and saying that he’d consider a cartoon (but not from Disney), but never allow human actors to portray his Narniacs. Interesting . . .

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Dear Sieveking

(Why do you ‘Dr’ me? Had we not dropped the honorifics?) As things worked out, I wasn’t free to hear a single instalment of our serial [The Magician’s Nephew] except the first. What I did hear, I approved. I shd. be glad for the series to be given abroad. But I am absolutely opposed – adamant isn’t in it! – to a TV version. Anthropomorphic animals, when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare. At least, with photography. Cartoons (if only Disney did not combine so much vulgarity with his genius!) wld. be another matter. A human, pantomime, Aslan wld. be to me blasphemy.

All the best,


C. S. Lewis



Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Jeff says:

    With all due respect to Mr. Lewis, its too late to stop this film and I’m glad. If he rolls over in his grave, which for me is a theological impossibility, it’ll be an unfortunate but appropriate price to pay to see Narnia on the silver screen. 😉

  • maryellen mckee says:

    i suppose cs lewis’s wishes will not be granted and a corrupted version will be interpeted. he might take some comfort with others whose stories have been “hollywoodized” into some bizare movies.Jesus being the main character of distortion..wonder how he copes with
    all the hype around his image? lets hope that more good will be done than bad.

  • J.T. says:

    Methinks the right honourable gentleman could never have imagined the genius of the WETA Workshop folks.

  • C.S. Lewis would oppose the Narnia movie?

    It’s been suggested here that C.S. Lewis would be upset that Narnia is being made into a live-action movie. I respectfully disagree.

  • I agree with J.T: Lewis was thinking of people in animal costumes, but WETA has proven they can make a CG character very lifelike. Gollum could have been a disaster (i.e. a tragic character that would have been giggled at), but they pulled it off. I’m pretty confident that Aslan will be equally giggle-proof.

  • Ryan Jones says:

    I wouldn’t be suprised if JRR Tolkien felt the same way. Movies and the effects involved in them have come a long way since CS Lewis’ time. Can’t say the same for actors though.

  • erickeck says:

    i don’t know how cs. ever could have imagined the special effects animation that can go into “real actors”…
    i betcha he digs the matrix from his sleep box

  • Alas, the risk of every artist is that once their work is out there, it is out there. If it is good, all sorts of good and bad will be done in its name (i.e. “The Official Lord of the Rings Ouiji Board).
    For myself, I am glad to see the book come to film.

  • joeturner says:

    I heard his stepson on radio the other day who was very enthusiastic about the publicity from the film (if that is anything to go by).

  • andrew says:

    yes – i am also. cant wait to see it and join in the conversation about the analogies in the series.

  • brodie says:

    I too was going to comment the Lewis would not have foreseen what CGI would allow film makers to do, and perhaps if he were alive today his view on the books going to film might be different.
    What will be interesting to see is if the film introduces an whole new audiance to the books. If it does then perhaps this alone “justifies” the making of the film.

  • bobbie says:

    yes, but he never imagined the quality of computer graphics – he never got to see LOTR brought to life before our very eyes.
    he was a storyteller, and i think he will be thrilled that his story will be reaching many more hearts because of this than if it was done slip shod and trounced about by animators who portrayed the children as one dimensional cartoons, instead of flesh and blood humans.

  • bobbie says:

    i guess reading other’s comments before posting is probably a good idea – glad to see i’m in such good company!

  • Matybigfro says:

    I’m sure he’ll be relieve to have something on offer that beat’s the BBC’s Television series that was shoking (in SFX terms) and full of people in animal costumes.
    But when i was 8 I loved that
    and I’m sure Mr Lewis appreciates the wonder of an entertained child who’s world lights up and the wonder of his story’s
    and so I’m sure he’ll cope

  • SCSIwuzzy says:

    I agree with others. This letter was written when? The recipient died in 1972, so before that. I doubt that Lewis or anyone else could imagine what we can do now with CGI and prosthesis.
    Aslan as a puppet or man in suit would be terrible, but the Lion I see in the preview is a whole other reality.

  • Tash says:

    He’s rolling in his grave anyways…

  • elizabeth says:

    Isn’t computer animation a form of cartoon, of course it’s still spear headed by Disney, but at least Walden Media is there as well.

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