Liam Neeson has found himself in hot water with some Christians for his remarks in a recent interview. Neeson, who voices Aslan the lion in the popular Narnia movies — based on C.S. Lewis books with a widely recognized, "unapologetic Christian message" — said that "Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha, and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries." With the third Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, hitting theaters today, Christian groups are taking issue. Did Neeson cross a line? (Watch Liam Neeson discuss making Narnia)
Yes, Neeson's statement was ill-advised: "I like Liam Neeson, so let me just say... damn," says John Nolte at Big Hollywood. The actor, "puffed up with his own importance," is attacking "the very heart of the series" — and turning away the Christian audience for the film. "I don't want to see some goofy, multi-cultural, politically correct fantasy movie... I want to see a Christian movie, a movie that honors and respects my beliefs and affirms them."
"Liam Neeson: C.S. Lewis wrong, Narnia books also about Mohammed"
No, he's entitled to his personal view: "I'll admit that Lewis' text is as subtle as a sledgehammer in its Christian symbolism," says Bryan Clark at Movieline. But "shouldn’t any serious work of art should be open to individual interpretation?" In any case, the actor's performance is what really counts. No one "could knock Aslan's voice out of the park the way Neeson has."
"Liam Neeson Chronicles of Narnia controversy"
Christian critics have their own agenda: What Neeson actually said is beside the point, says Will Leblanc at Cinema Blend. This is really about "a bunch of ignorant attention hounds" who are "looking to get the church back in the news again," as they did when they decried movies like The Golden Compass and Harry Potter for being un-Christian.
"Liam Neeson enrages Christians by comparing Aslan to Buddha"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- Scottish independence is another financial crisis waiting to happen
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 11 scientific studies that will restore your faith in humanity
- 10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2014
- Why the West should let Russia have eastern Ukraine
- These real-life Rosie the Riveters changed the face of labor
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- The next pandemic
Subscribe to the Week