The first movie adaptation opens during the London bombings in World War II. Because of the city-bombing, parents are sending their children away to the relative safety of the country— and four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie) are sent to the estate of Professor Digory Kirke. During a game of hide-and-seek there, Lucy finds an old wardrobe, and decides it’s the perfect hiding place; little does she know that it was made from the wood of a tree from a different world (known as Narnia), and that at certain times it acts as a doorway to that world.
For a hundred years, Narnia has been oppressed under the power of the false (and evil) “Queen” Jadis— more commonly known as the White Witch— who forcibly imposed a hard, endless Winter on the land. However, Lucy’s arrival is not an accident; and it will change the course of Narnian history, and the Pevensies’ lives, forever.
General Changes: The hide-and-seek game is moved to coincide with Lucy’s first wardrobe entrance; for the second, Lucy and Edmund are up in the middle of the night; and the third (with the footsteps following them around) is initiated not by visitors taking a tour of the house, but rather an ‘accidental’ hit of a ball through a window. Tumnus is younger (or at least appears so). The creatures who were turned to stone for celebrating are now found as stone already, having instead been caught trying to help Mr. Tumnus; and the Fox— who temporarily avoided that fate— nearly loses his life helping the Beavers and Pevensies escape from the closely-following Wolves (though he is finally turned to stone later). Peter rides a Unicorn in training and in the end battle. There is no visible blood around Aslan’s knife-wound. Edmund recovers in well under a half-minute after receiving the cordial, so Lucy doesn’t have to be told to go help other wounded. At the end of the movie, the Professor enters the wardrobe room as the Pevensies tumble out of it, and (presumably) that is when they have their end talk (which isn’t shown onscreen, though the explanation that the wardrobe won’t work anymore is actually given in a cut scene clip just after the credits begin). Some scenes are shorter. There is some updated and expanded dialogue. And there are some minor changes of detail (hair colors, Tumnus’ tail length, etc.). [: The ‘change’ of the chief Wolf’s name to Maugrim (from Fenris Ulf) actually results from the name having been changed in the text of some editions of the book.]
Deletions: Edmund does not pull Jadis’ sleigh. The attack on the Witch’s camp to rescue Edmund is now a swift raid, so she does not have time to try to kill him or disguise herself and her dwarf servant as a rock and a tree stump.
Additions: An extended opening sequence shows why the children are being sent away. The Beavers have a network of hidden tunnels that run out from their dam underground. There’s a short scene with Tumnus and Edmund in the Witch’s prison (Tumnus is turned to stone just slightly later in this timeline). As Spring comes, the Wolves catch up to the Pevensies an extra time at the thawing great river, which dramatically deices as they all try to cross. Susan and Lucy send word to the others (by the trees) that Aslan was slain.
As a movie, The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is very well done. The acting is great; the score is inspiring; and the visuals, of course, are stunning. The Narnian landscapes are beautiful and expansive, and all of the creatures are believable— from the most disgustingly exotic evil beast, to Tumnus the Faun, to the beautiful Griffin, to the noble (and downright amazing) Centaurs, to utterly magnificent Aslan himself.
Plus, as an adaptation, it’s (thankfully ) excellent: With perhaps the one exception of Peter riding a Unicorn— which was really the only thing out of character— the few inevitable adds and changes (listed above) ended up being fairly minor, with everything remaining absolutely true to the book’s heart.
To sum it up, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe is an excellent movie for Narnia fans and newcomers alike, and we definitely recommend it.