The Author is Dead (AKA the one where Emily takes on CS Lewis from beyond the grave)

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The impact a creator’s intent has on a project is undeniable. Whether it’s a book, a film, a painting or a podcast, it’s the creator’s intent that ultimately shapes it.

I recently had a day off, so whilst tackling the ominous mountain of ironing, I decided to re-watch the Chronicles of Narnia films. I only made it through the first two as I had other things to get done that day, but what surprised me was how much I enjoyed watching these films. Growing up, I adored the books of the Chronicles of Narnia. I got the whole set for my eighth birthday from a family friend, and I devoured them. My favourite was always The Magicians Nephew, as I lived in a terraced house just like the one Diggory and Polly played together in, and I spent years hoping a best friend would just move in next door, and then we would go on magical adventures together. I also loved the character of Jadis. She was one of the first female characters I had come across who was purely self-confident, and although this is obviously framed as a negative trait in the context of the books, I just thought she was really cool. (If you’ll pardon the pun).

However, as I got older, my bubble was broken. I don’t remember who first pointed it out to me, but once I realised the underlying religious tone of this series, I immediately distanced myself from them. They were no longer my favourite childhood books, and I plunged myself into Harry Potter instead. (Which is actually equally problematic in some aspects, but I’ll get to that another time). I went to go see the films when they came out, mostly because I’ll go and see pretty much any fantasy film, but I generally talked about Narnia with a hint of scorn amongst my social circles.

But when I re-watched the films this time around, I was just struck with how much I loved them, all cheesy fantasy tropes aside. I still love the characters, the plot, and honestly even some of the heavy handed moral lessons – such as the importance of not dismissing children, that making mistakes does not make you an intrinsically bad person, and that being kind is just as important as being brave. So honestly, I don’t care about the religious elements to this series! I acknowledge they exist, but they will no longer change the way I love Narnia!

I guess what I’m trying to say (in my usual hyperbolic manner) is that the intent of Lewis may have shaped these books, and perhaps are at the root of some of the themes, but at the end of the day, it’s what I took from these books that is really important. And I believe this can be applied to creative work in general. It’s what you personally take away that is what really matters, as art is the most subjective thing you can get.

Thanks for reading! Sorry I missed last week – it was a bit hectic so I didn’t get chance to upload anything. But regular programming has been restored, and (much like the Backstreet Boys) I am back!

See you soon,

Emily

xxx