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December 6, 2010

Here's One 'Code' Worth Checking Out

New documentary explores the 'imaginative DNA' behind the Chronicles of Narnia


When the book Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C. S. Lewis released a couple years ago, with its claims of discovery of a “secret layer” of meaning behind The Chronicles of Narnia, I remember thinking, “Seriously??”

But it was released by Oxford University Press, giving it some instant cred. Still, on the heels of The Da Vinci Code movie and The Secret and all sorts of hooey with This Code and That Code coming out, I pretty much ignored the book. In the years since, I’ve heard others say it was a good read, but I still haven't gotten around to reading it.

Well, shame on me.

Leave it to a 60-minute documentary – called The Narnia Code, no less! – to pique my interest. The film, which released to retail outlets just before Thanksgiving (and, conveniently, only a couple weeks before The Voyage of the Dawn Treader hits theaters), is an overview of the ideas that Planet Narnia author Michael Ward put forth in his book.

And they are fascinating ideas. Ward says that Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia include a deeper, never-before-discovered “imaginative DNA” behind the seven books, with each book representing one of the seven planets of medieval astronomy—one of Lewis’s great interests. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, for example, represents the planet Jupiter, while Dawn Treader represents Sol, or the sun. (The sun and moon were considered “planets” in medieval astronomy.)

Think it sounds a bit weird? I would’ve thought so too, till watching this documentary, which builds a compelling case, especially since it includes interviews with many top Lewis scholars, who all give credence to Ward’s discoveries. (And most of them also thought the idea sounded wacky when they first heard it too – till they read the book.) All to say, the film has encouraged me to find a copy of the book and give it a read. Check out the trailer for the documentary below: