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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

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Nearly three hours long, this splendid adventure doubtless will require multiple viewings for children to see in its entirety. But this is the rare sort of stuff to which kids are eager to return.

An adaptation of the first of C.S. Lewis’ seven books about the imaginary land of Narnia, this WonderWorks drama produced by the BBC enchants on many levels. The costumes, for example, are detailed, imaginative — and sometimes frightening. Geoffrey Burgon’s memorable score contains leitmotifs even the youngest listeners will pick up. The theme is as lovely as the message of Lewis’ story, published in 1950. Used sparingly, the animation and special effects are especially striking.

The tale of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe unfolds in England in 1940. Four children discover that a clothes cabinet is the entry to Narnia, ruled by a witch. In trying to rescue the boy the witch has taken hostage, the children encounter a lion, who agrees to give up his life for the boy’s. The lion later comes back to life to help the children defeat the forces of evil. Although the fantasy explores Christian themes, it does so subtly. Many children won’t notice the similarities between the plot and the story of Christ’s death and resurrection. What they are likely to notice is a nonsectarian message: Help others, tell the truth, and make decisions based on ethical standards. A