December 9th, 2005


Aslan is on the move!

Fear not folks, I'll cut before spoilers.

So, due to the good graces of Dan "Hobbit" Lazarow, I got tickets to one of the premieres of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" at El Capitan in Hollywood last night. I arrived early and we had some dinner at the mall-like place across the street, right next to Grauman's Chinese Theatre. Even as I was leaving the parking lot though, two very friendly church-goers introduced themselves and asked me if I was there to see the movie. They gave me helpful directions, and were generally very amiable.

As I walked past El Capitan, (a truly magnificent Art Deco movie palace, by the way) I saw that it was decked out from stem to stern with Narnia regalia - icicles and snowdrifts, statues from the White Queen's palace, the whole big thing. When I walked under the marquee, it snowed on me. They had rigged the roof to drift snowflakes down. Real snow, too! I grinned, and a couple of the movie theatre employees, two black guys in fancy uniforms, lounging around the ticket booth, laughed happily at my surprise.

The line before the movie was huge. We actually lined up an hour early, and we were still stretched around the block. The tickets were given in a folder that said, "PASSPORT: Narnia" This I will treasure. Interestingly, the premiere was sponsored by a church called Mosaic . They did distribute some literature before the movie, but it was mostly about C.S. Lewis. It was tasteful and not over the top... and really, "Lion" is a Christian allegory, so making it a "teaching moment" would almost certainly not be against Lewis' wishes.

The inside of El Capitan is a marvel. There's not a square inch that isn't covered with some intricate bit of gingerbread filigree. The screen itself is recessed behind multiple layers of elaborate frames. Rising out of the stage on the proscenium is a massive organ, the likes of which any Phantom would gladly give the right half of his mask to have. An organist was pounding away in an almost gymnastic performance at holiday traditional songs - each one ending in a massive, basso profundo flourish to cue the audience to applaud. When he was finished, the organ disappeared down into the stage to much applause. The curtain over the screen descended, and the house lights went down. The curtains went up ... only reveal a scrim with the famous lampost of Narnia. A lightshow, consisting of... lights that dimmed and raised in a not-particularly-dramatic fashion followed. There were centaur statues flanking the stage, and a massive Aslan head that flashed dramatically over the stage. Finally, the music reached a crescendo and artificial snow makers blew confetti-snow all over the theatre.

At last, the feature started:

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As a non-spoiler interesting factoid - El Capitan has a bunch of the original props on display in the theatre (along with commentary by Richard Taylor, who also did LoTR) and looking closely, I could see that Peter's sword says, "When Aslan shakes his mane, Narnia will have Spring again." I guess it rhymes if you're British...