Sunday, February 18, 2007

"Let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage"

Micheal Flaherty, President of Walden Media, the company that has thus far produced The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Because of Winn Dixie, Charlotte's Webb, and others, and is about to release Amazing Grace, spoke recently at Hillsdale College. He described the purpose of his company - an excerpt:
While it is virtually impossible for us to determine if our efforts have made any kind of dent in the decline in reading, there is overwhelming evidence that we have exponentially increased the book sales of the books we have adapted into feature films. The Narnia books saw an increase in sales that was several multiples. In fact, because of the increased focus on C. S. Lewis, sales of his other books increased by several multiples as well.

In February we release two films. Our first, Bridge to Terabithia, follows our traditional model of a film based on a popular book - in this case Katherine Paterson's Newbery Award Winner. And the following week we are releasing Amazing Grace, a film based on a great man - William Wilberforce - and a great event - the abolition of the slave trade in Great Britain.

After a powerful conversion experience, William Wilberforce dedicated himself to what he called his two great objectives - the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of society. In pursuing the first, he was challenging a mindset that had existed for centuries. Wilberforce recognized that if he wanted to change the law, he needed to change peoples' hearts and minds. And he also knew that none of this was possible until his own heart experienced a radical transformation.

Wilberforce's childhood preacher, John Newton, experienced an even more dramatic conversion than Wilberforce. In a graceless world, absent of God's mercy, Newton should have rotted in the bowels of a slave ship or been tossed in the sea. Yet God, in his providence, saved this wretch and gave him something he didn't deserve, a prominent role in the story of freedom. And Newton went on to pen one of the most redemptive songs in human history - "Amazing Grace." ...

After decades of defeat, through faith and perseverance, Wilberforce and his friends of the Clapham Sect accomplished what everybody thought was impossible. But their story did not end there. It was said of Wilberforce that good causes stuck to him like pins. Over his lifetime, he launched more than 65 social initiatives, including the first animal welfare society, the first Bible Society and the first National Gallery of Art. He also helped reform penal laws and child welfare laws.

Today we desperately need more leaders like William Wilberforce and the Kings and Queens of Narnia who will fight to make good laws, keep the peace, save good trees from being cut down, and encourage ordinary people who want to live and let live.
Good stories, well-told, with all of the most sophisticated production values ensuring that more people are apt to see them - this is what Christians and cultural conservatives have long wanted. May Walden Media prosper.

The Narnia series will continue, I hope, right up to The Last Battle. Another book Walden should consider is Watership Down. And then a really good version of Treasure Island, and Kidnapped, and ....

Another appreciation of Walden Media can be found here.

Source: Imprimis Archive - Hillsdale College

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