Recently I acquired Disney’s extended cut DVD of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was released last Christmas and left on the market for about six weeks, whereupon it was pulled. Like The Lord of the Rings extended editions, this was a four-disc affair, released both as a regular four-disc edition and as a deluxe edition with bookends. I managed to find the bookend edition for forty dollars — the same price as the regular four-disc edition was released at a year ago — through a bargain book dealer. It wasn’t really a gap in my collection, yet it was, for some reason, something that if I saw for a good price I wanted.
Sadly, two years dulls memories, and I’d forgotten that The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe isn’t particularly good. And the extended cut — which runs fifteen minutes longer, at 2 hours 30 minutes — adds no material of any importance. If anything, the extra footage only makes the film seem even more bloated than it had been before.
The film’s major problem is the book’s major problem — the story is terrible. Plot motivations are non-existent. Intriguingly, I noticed that prophecies were mentioned several times, as if that justified the plot’s logic. “The prophecy says this,” and “the prophecy says that.” Okay, sure, it covers some problems, but then you have to ask, where did the prophecy come from to start with?
And seriously? Father Christmas? How does that even make sense in a world where the person whose birth Father Christmas is meant to commemorate is a talking lion incarnate?
But these are all problems that were extant in the original form of the film. What’s new in the extended cut?
There’s more reaction shots of the children to Narnia. The train ride in the opening credits seems longer. I don’t recall the scene of Susan making a snow angel. Mainly, it’s more shots of the children in New Zealand.
It’s not worth it. The extended cut. The three making-of discs? I’m not sure that I really care.
The interesting thing about watching the extended Wardrobe is that it was so easy to see these actors and actresses as the characters in Neil Gaiman’s story, “The Problem of Susan.”
Despite not caring a whole lot for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, others did, and it was successful enough that Prince Caspian is coming next summer. Strange as this may sound, I’m looking forward to that, if only because the screenwriters say they’re going to deal with something C.S. Lewis completely overlooked — the cruelty of having children grow into adulthood and rule a world, then return to childhood and have to live through life all over again.
I suppose it’s possible that in the spring or summer, when Caspian is about to hit theaters, that the extended Wardrobe will return to retail. My advice? Unless it’s really cheap, stick with the regular edition of Wardrobe if you already have it.
Originally published here.